Review Summary: Providing a map of sorts for the musical progression of Destroyer 666, "To the Devil His Due" is a violent romp compiled strictly for the fans.
If any band is truly deserving of a compilation album, it’s Destroyer 666. Formed in 1994, Destroyer 666 have been wreaking havoc with their furious blend of black, death, and thrash metal, garnering die-hard fans along the way. Praised by many as one of the premiere bands of the genre, they have surprisingly only released four full-length albums, their last being entitled “Defiance”, which took roughly several years to release. However, with such a short full-length discography, it can be pretty confusing as to why the band would opt to release a compilation, until the amount of EP’s they have produced comes into consideration.
“To the Devil His Due” is a gathering of all the songs on four different EP’s, those being 1998’s “Satanic Speed Metal”, 2000’s “King of Kings/Lord of the Wild”, 2002’s “…Of Wolves, Women, and War”, and the newly released 2010 “See You In Hell”. Oddly left out of this group is 2003’s “Terror Abraxas”, though the original purpose of this compilation was to round up all the songs from out of print 7-inch vinyl versions. Regardless, “To the Devil His Due” provides an interesting take on Destroyer 666’s progression from their first studio album “Unchain the Wolves” to “Defiance”, told through relatively unknown tracks and suitable production quality.
Throughout “To the Devil His Due”, you can really see the steps of evolution that Destroyer 666 took with each EP. The opener, “Satanic Speed Metal”, pays homage to the sounds of Venom, complete with a thumping bass and NWOBHM style soloing. Perhaps the biggest difference would the vocals put forth by K.K. Warslut, which are not only less guttural, but more shrill and concise than his later work. Oddly enough, “The Siren’s Call”, which is from the same E.P., is tuned to more that classic Destroyer 666 sound. Blasting guitars and pulsating drums pave the way for Warslut’s growling voice, which in turn sets the path for the rest of the compilation.
As soon as “King of Kings” erupts onto the scene on, the progression from the previous tracks is instantly noticeable. “King of Kings” and “Lord of the Wild” were written shortly after the full-length “Phoenix Rising”, and share the similar brooding tension that the album reveled in. Both of these tracks focus more on atmospheric quality rather than sheer power, especially in “Lord of the Wild”, with sweeping guitar melodies and group vocals. Just as things seem to settle into order, the three tracks from “…Of Wolves, Women, and War” come bashing in, more akin to the heavy thrash model used on “Cold Steel…For an Iron Age”. Displaying their thrash prowess, Destroyer 666 shred through waves of palm mutes and rapid-fire drumming on both “Ghost Dance” and “Taste the Poison”, before returning to their more signature, atmospheric blend with “Levens Bloed”.
The value of this compilation, however, lies with the two new tracks from their recent EP, “See You In Hell”. While the previous tracks portrayed the traits of whichever full-length album recently preceded them (i.e. “…Of Wolves, Women, and War” relating to “Cold Steel…For an Iron Age”), both new tracks do not fit into the same mold as “Defiance”. While many argued a case that “Defiance” was simply too watered-down and less aggressive than their past releases, “Through the Broken Pentagram” and “See You In Hell” stand as a testament that the band’s malice is far from removed. “Through the Broken Pentagram” is a full on assault, packed to the brim with malevolent riffs and shattering vocals. Hearing Warslut wail into the microphone during the final minutes of the track harkens back to the “Phoenix Rising” era, and is more than enough to send chills down the spine. The following track, “See You In Hell”, once again finds Destroyer 666 drawing from their vague NWOBHM influence, with a sinister overtone produced by gang vocals and searing guitars. As an added bonus, dive-bombing solos litter the track to compliment the melodic leads found halfway through the song.
It’s quite difficult to discuss “To the Devil His Due” as a collective whole, since the songs are clumped together in the order in which their respected EP’s were released. Due to this, moving from one song to the next (i.e. “The Sirens Call” to “King of Kings”) can be a bit abrupt. Also, this does present a bit of frustration in terms of production quality, since the tracks were not re-mastered together. Rather, you get a fluctuation of sound levels, with songs like of “King of Kings” sounding more like they’re off a demo, and “Through the Broken Pentagram” coming off as much more clear. Differentiating production levels distort any sense of flow that this compilation/album had going for it, making it somewhat awkward to listen to in one full sitting.
Since it’s only limited to 1,000 copies, “To the Devil His Due” is strictly a “fan only” compilation. Most compilations are created to attract new listeners, so they have all of the band’s best on one album. “To the Devil His Due” is more-so created for the “already fans”, so that they can delight in the out of print rarities and enjoy a different perspective on the band’s musical evolution. The inclusion of the “See You in Hell” EP was a brilliant move on the band’s part, as it showcases a more hostile direction that they could be taking after “Defiance”. In short, if you’re a fan of Destroyer 666, definitely invest in acquiring this. If you’re just getting into the band, it would be suggested to start off with one of their full lengths.