Review Summary: Growing up is hard, man!The Chosen One
is Destrage’s most mature and cohesive work yet and whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your point of view. It’s a good (some might even say great) progressive metal album that has a ton of incredible musicianship and an impressive vocal performance from the ever-improving Paolo Colavolpe, but it also lacks the insanely entertaining and utterly ridiculous experimentation that defined the band’s breakout albums, The King is Fat ’n’ Old
and Are You Kidding Me? No.
(TKIFNO and AYKMN, henceforth) The band has traded in its raw energy and everything-AND-the-kitchen-sink approach to songwriting for greater focus on melody and flow, and while the results are definitely catchy they're also not as much fun as they used to be.
To be fair, Destrage can still be unpredictable and ridiculous when they really want to be, like on the jazz fusion-esque saxophone solos of “Mr. Bugman” and on the drum ’n’ bass verses of “Rage, My Alibi”, but moments like these are few and far between. While Matteo Di Gioia and Ralph Salati still trade pummeling riffs, soaring leads and atonal harmonies like few else can, and Federico Paulovich continues to prove that he’s one of the best metal drummers around, this version of Destrage leans on Colavolpe’s vocals (and improving English) to drive the album.
Colavolpe’s vocals aren’t a tour de force
, per se
, but he certainly holds court by writing some excellent hooks on the uptempo rockers “About That” and “Hey, Stranger!”, and really comes into his own when the band experiments with psychedelia on “At the Cost of Pleasure” and “The Gifted One”. Throughout the album, Colavolpe favours his singing voice over his hardcore shouts and death metal grunts in keeping with the rest of the band’s streamlining of their arrangements. However, this is the one area where the results of Destrage’s stylistic streamlining are an unmitigated success because they contribute the most towards the album’s catchiness and memorability. When he does dip into his bag of vocal tricks, the effect is more impactful than in the past when he seemingly constantly cycled through his rolodex of voices.
Ultimately, if you like relatively
straightforward and tasteful technical metal, with strong hooks and stunning musicianship, this is the Destrage album for you. But, if you prefer the version of Destrage that would drop a random bossa nova break into the middle of a groove metal song before segueing into some blast beats then The Chosen One
is going to leave you disappointed. Evolution and maturation are particularly difficult for metal bands because they have to deal with fans who have, ironically, little patience for both artistic stagnation as well as drastic changes in direction. The Chosen One
isn’t all that drastic of a change for Destrage, especially since it follows 2016’s A Means to No End
which was the true signifier of Destrage’s pivot into maturity. What The Chosen One
is, is a confident and controlled blowtorch of an album, but it’s hard not to miss the napalm bombs of creativity that were TKIFNO and AYKMN. While maturity might be a good look for Destrage, it's a look that not everyone is going to appreciate.
The album, and Destrage's other MetalBlade albums, can be streamed and downloaded here: