She Said Destroy / Succession is different, challenging but hugely a rewarding listen
From The Abyss: 13 October 2021
I first crossed paths with She Said Destroy after releasing their superb 2006 full-length debut, Time Like Vines, which utterly blew me away the first time I heard it.
She Said Destroy – Succession (Mas-Kina Recordings)
Release Date: 15 October 2021
Words: Jools Green
It was so different from anything else that had crossed my path at the time. She Said Destroy followed that with This City Speaks Tongues in 2008 and then the EP Bleeding Fiction in 2012. Since then, it’s been too many years of silence, but the Norwegian Metal innovators are back with their third studio full-length Succession, and it has been so worth the wait.
Succession consists of material written over the last thirteen years. As a result, this represents a broad collection of influences and musical styles, more so than with the previously released offerings.
With no set style or concept, the result is intriguing, engaging and full of surprises, largely because several songs were written as standalone pieces, years apart. She Said Destroy have highlighted individuality rather than trying to meld them under one concept and have used different drum setups and a range of different guitar amps throughout the recording, making sure the sound served the songwriting.
Taking this idea further, Snorre Bergerud also made it a rule not to record any song parts that would not have been technically possible to record in 1990. So if a kick drum part depended on triggering to shine through, it was left out. The album was recorded to digital, but most of the drums were recorded in either full takes or compiled from two or three full takes with no reverb used, only room mics.
For guitar effects, they only used pedals, and the vocals were recorded with a handheld mic to capture a live feel. Also, the editing is kept to an absolute minimum, and if something felt imperfect but had the right energy, it was left in. All this attention to detail really adds to the sound.
There is a theme surrounding Succession, which is a natural continuation of She Said Destroy’s exploration of human nature on past releases. This time around, it’s the impact of the Anthropocene era on our psyche and our surroundings, songs of frustration, despair and hatred, but also of love and wanting to cling on to hope even when not believing that striving for a better world will bear fruits.
Opening track and one of my favourites, To Ourselves The World Entire, is a breathtakingly good listen. With an enticingly jazzy, progressive feel and technical but groovy riffs, the sublime drum work is complex but with an organic flow throughout, changing the atmosphere slightly with a haunting mid-point keyboard repeat. Second half reflective guitar swathe, and harsh vocals, punch their way through, adding a superb contrast.
Eyes Go Pale is an eerie, unnerving plodder, magnificently atmospheric, slowly building in disconcerting increments. The vocals are set to the back of the sound to draw you in, as do the waves of piano work. A track that engages and is disquieting in equal measure.
Pummelling, almost tribal drum work, bendy groovy off-kilter guitar work, and deep searing vocal growls combine to create a sinister air and make Our Will Be Done another addictively unnerving listen. The one defined part of the vocal delivery that cuts through with clarity is the repeated line, “Our Will Be Done!”, a track so good it gave me goosebumps.
By She Said Destroy standards, You Will End is a seemingly straightforward affair with a slightly melodic, dirty driving Death/Thrash aura. Short and to the point at just two-and-a-half minutes, but closer inspection reveals far more to this track than is first apparent, the attention as always being in the detail.
Greed Witches takes the sound back to a more technical and Jazzy/Progressive feel. It’s chunky, punchy and driving, mostly, even breaking into the realms of Hardcore occasionally. It has slightly wistful moments, too, a track that is so subtly crushing you don’t realise until this superb beast utterly smothers you.
Sharpening The Blade is a magnificent listen, another big favourite with me, not an easy decision either, the standard across the album being so high. Delivering a blackened driving sound with acerbic blackened vocals, with symphonic sounding elements that aren’t exactly symphonic, it pairs back to a reflectively melodic segment before the close. This proves, six tracks in, She Said Destroy can still surprise and shake up perceived rules even further.
All The Kings Horses is dark, sinister and doomy. It would make a great soundtrack to a horror film, filled with unnerving suspense but also beautiful at the same time, a track you can’t tear yourself away from.
Collapse continues with the sinister mood, haunting repeats that have a cleverly unnerving judder, accompanied by higher screaming vocals, and when it ebbs back in pace and brutality, it becomes even more unnerving, revealing something even more quirky with each twist in the direction, a track that is as crazy as it is brilliant.
Not Only Bridges is a melodic driver that ventures at times towards Hardcore, another return to the almost straightforward, but it flits and thrashes around in that uniquely off-kilter, progressive style that only She Said destroy can achieve.
It’s back to the heavy, bouncy Djent-like crush again for penultimate offering Ruin, richly and complexly layered, a brutally seductive track that is a joy to the ear.
The final piece, title track Succession, is also the album monster at over eight minutes. Opening on distant haunting keyboards, a prominent repeat factor of the track, it builds in haunting layers as the guitars and then drums arrive, taking on a blackened twist to the sound. The vocals are delivered as a distant acerbic blackened hiss, closing on bleak haunting strings, a grippingly good track.
If you want to get your teeth into a really different, challenging but hugely rewarding listen, Succession is the album for you.