Destruction @ B.B. King Blues Club

MANHATTAN, NY—German thrash legends Destruction stormed into New York City on a humid Wednesday night on their 30th anniversary tour to show everyone what real metal is all about. Formed back in 1982 under the name Knight Of Demon by the dynamic duo of bassist/vocalist Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer and guitarist Mike Sifringer, they changed their name to Destruction in 1984. Not only did they change their name, but they changed their style from a more traditional Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept metal band to a faster and more aggressive style. Along with their contemporaries Sodom and Kreator, these bands are well known as the “three kings” of German thrash metal.

Having witnessed a blistering concert by Sodom and Destruction at Irving Plaza in the summer of ‘88, it gives me great pleasure to report that Destruction are better now than they were back then. How is it possible that they’ve gotten faster, tighter and crazier? I’d imagine that drummer Vaaver (Wawrzyniec Dramowicz) has a lot to do with it. He joined the band in 2010 and is ferocious behind the kit. Destruction toured the U.S. in 2011 supporting their latest album, Day Of Reckoning, and played the Highline Ballroom last May—cranking out a lot of material from that excellent album. This tour, however, was all about their old school classic songs. Fans were treated to “Satan’s Vengeance” from their debut 1984 EP, Sentence Of Death, a song that Schmier claims had never been played in the U.S. before. Schmier also told the crowd that New York was the first city in America that they ever played in and he was obviously glad to be back.

The vintage violence of neck snappers like “Mad Butcher” and “Nailed To The Cross” had the rabid crowd ignoring the signs posted “NO MOSHING.” They ended their 75-minute show with the unbeatable combination of “Bestial Invasion” and “Invincible Force.” The long-running death metal band Vital Remains opened the show at 7:05 p.m. to a small but appreciative crowd. Hailing from Providence, RI, they wasted no time during their 35-minute set. It took a few songs for the crowd to warm up but by the time they played the title-track from their 2003 album Dechristianize, fans started storming the stage and forming a circle pit. Warbringer, from Ventura, CA, hit the stage at 8 p.m. and they flat-out killed. Playing a more traditional style of retro thrash metal, they really got the crowd going. Warbringer are all about classic 1984-86 thrash and played with lots of enthusiasm.

Their incredible drummer, Carlos Cruz, played a pretty small kit by metal standards but put it to very good use. It sounds like he might have had some jazz drumming lessons as a youth because he had a little more groove and swing than most metal drummers. Vocalist John Kevill wore a tattered t-shirt with the cover of Overkill’s Feel The Fire on it as well as retro puffy white high-top sneakers, instantly endearing him to the older headbangers in the crowd. Stage diving reached a peak during their cover of Motörhead’s eternal “(We Are) The Road Crew.” Although not a sold-out crowd, B.B. King’s was pretty full and everyone had a great time. The crowd was split between original thrash fans in their 40’s and kids about half their age. The show was over by 11 p.m. If this show was taking place at a club like L’amours in Brooklyn 25 years ago, the first band would be going on stage around that time, even on a school night. Times have changed but the primal call of intense metal knows no boundaries.