Jun 072023

The story of New England-based I, Destroyer is an unusual one, perhaps best summed up as a tale of indomitable perseverance in the shadows of the underground. As we write this, the band are on the eve of their 20th anniversary, and yet (with a new lineup in place) are only now about to release their first official EP as a label release.

Those two decades did see the production of four I, Destroyer demos, but they were self-released and usually passed along by hand to friends, fans, and other bands. Moreover, although those four demos collectively included 21 songs, they totaled only about 38 minutes of music. The new EP — Cold, Dead Hands — is nearly 25 minutes all by itself, spread across 6 tracks. If you do the math, you’ll figure out that these songs on average are longer than anything the band have done before.

These songs are also dynamic and expertly executed assaults. And make no mistake, they are indeed vicious assaults, relentlessly pulse-pounding attacks of black thrash and speed metal, but with enough changes in momentum and mood (and plenty of technically eye-popping performances) to keep listeners perched on the edge of their seats. It’s raw and nasty, fetid as well as ferocious, both feral and freaked-out — a wild ride from beginning to end.

And so, it’s with fiendish pleasure that we present a full stream of Cold, Dead Hands today in advance of its June 9th co-release by Eternal Death and Born for Burning.

The only true constant over the band’s 20-year career has been guitarist/vocalist Barbaroz. Accompanied by various allies over those years, he helped build a strong following through many live shows in the region (and through touring in eastern Canada). For this new EP, he also brought together a compelling new lineup of like-minded maniacs, including most recently drummer Wraitheon (Black Sorcery, ex-Bog of the Infidel, ex-Nefarious) alongside bassist Poisin (Ash Pool, Haxen, Football Rabbit) and rhythm guitarist Tormentum (Ancient Torment, Witch King), who joined in 2017.

Below, you can hear what they’ve accomplished. And we won’t blame you in the least if you get right to it. But here’s what we hear:

Oracle” opens the EP with brutishly hammering drums, magma-like bass, and a dense mass of raw, abrasive riffing from which maniacally feverish leads squirm and scream in exultant madness, coupled with goblin-like shrieks and bestial roars. The band also switch into neck-snapping back-beats and the lashing of cruel but head-hooking riffs that give the music a more feral and predatory mien, as well as a slower and more skull-cleaving final segment where the guitars ooze disease and writhe in agony.

Ghostly winds blow and timbers crack at the outset of “Chained to the Accursed Graves“, but then the band bolt into a galloping and jolting race, with guitars that sound like a roiling cauldron of flesh-eating infection. But here again, the band switch things up, both turning up the heat on the music’s demonic violence and folding in a variety of riffing and percussive patterns, using rapidly skittering fretwork to provide fuel for headbangers but also exploding in wild chaos, thanks to a freaked-out fret-melter of a solo, and closing with a witchy second solo.

Vivid punk beats melded with dismal dragging chords provide the intro to “Total Vengeance“, but then the guitars begin to feed like swarms of maddened insects on a fresh carcass as the drums inflict a brutish beating and the nasty vocals come for your throat with teeth bared. The soloing in this one is even more berserk than before (which is saying something), and the band also segue into a sequence of tumbling drums and grisly heaving riffage.

Just a couple of quick booming drum strikes provide the only prelude you get before “Prophecies of Final War” launches a discharge of madness and mayhem with riffing that slashes and convulses and drums that pump like pistons. Yet by now you’ll expect I, Destroyer to bring in twists and turns, and so they do, causing the drums to lurch, the bass to bubble insidiously, and the guitars to moan and blare in hideous glory.

Speaking of hideous glory, that’s the feeling of “Speed Kills” at the beginning, though the band then quickly launch a highly infectious thrash rampage, segmented by sharp changes in rhythm and riffing that (among other things) will give listeners plenty of chances to pump their necks, to feel stalked by monstrosities from Hell, and to become incinerated by yet another guitar solo that ultimately transforms into an ecstatic spectacle.

Speed Kills” is probably this writer’s favorite among these six hot-as-hell tracks, but that doesn’t mean the closer “Strike” is a come-down. Far from it. It delivers a riff-blizzard of viciousness, backed by the kind of drumming that spits bullets at blazing speed, and interspersed with fretwork that’s both jarring and serpentine — along with a couple of final black-magic solos, a fast chug-fest that’s immediately addictive, and some beast-like gang howls.



I, Destroyer may have dwelled in the relative depths of recording obscurity for the last 20 years, but Cold, Dead Hands should expose them to a bigger audience and earn them a lot of new fans. The EP will be released on cassette tape and digital formats by Eternal Death and on CD by Born for Burning. It’s all available for pre-order now:




  1. Sick!

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