Exercise the Demons of Youth


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Exercise the Demons of Youth Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Picking up where Punk Singles Collection left off, the Captain Oi label reissues Exercise the Demons of Youth, the Destructors' debut album (or sophomore set if you count the band's The Destructors Kill Music 1978 cassette-only set of demos and live numbers). Having formed in 1977 in the wake of the Sex Pistols, the original lineup of the Destructors self-destructed in 1980. It was a slightly different lineup that re-formed over a year later, and with the addition of Graham "Gizz" Butt, the guitarist who would participate in Prodigy live touring during the '90s, the new-look group began swiftly unleashing a series of singles and EPs, eight records in all beginning in April 1982. Their debut album promptly followed, and included several numbers that had already appeared on record; still, with 18 tracks in all, few fans felt cheated. Compared to their earlier releases, the Destructors exercised more self-control on Demons, leaving behind their earliest speed-and-slash musical tactics in favor of a more restrained and focused sound. Stronger, more infectious melodies were fast creeping in, and -- most surprising of all -- the band even toyed with pop on some songs. Their lyrical themes were expanding as well, moving beyond the wars and weaponry that had so grabbed their attention previously, to tackle serial killers, drugs, and much of the rest of the detritus underpinning the underbelly of contemporary Western civilization. But as "Urban Terrorist" makes clear, the Destructors never embraced annihilation as the Sex Pistols so gleefully had, nor did they glorify in the violence that was wrenching the globe apart. The Pistols might have raged against it all, but like all anarchists they really reveled in the horror. The Destructors, however, were appalled by a dystopia stalked by bloodshed, boredom, poverty, and oppressive state institutions. No longer just railing wildly against it, now the Destructors were dissecting it via their vivid lyrics and the controlled rage of their music.

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