These days, there is a formula for most metal bands. Deafeningly heavy, aggressive music that bangs you over the head with its ferocity is backed by lyrics about dark subjects with images of depression, despair and hopelessness. Those are the basics.
But San Diego's Destroy The Runner aren't basic or formulaic with their approach. Sure, they certainly know how to craft blood-blistering riffs and rattling rhythms, and they aren't afraid to play with shifting dynamics, dropping clean melodies in the middle of the maelstrom. This is a down-to-earth band that's got the chops to incorporate memorable melodies and undeniable hooks, all the while maintaining their metal/hardcore roots.
Additionally, the band steers clear of the "usual subjects" of anger and rage, instead choosing to lace their music with notes of hope, positivity, and light. Saints, their Solid State Records debut, is thinking man's metal, and it's aimed toward the youth of today. "So many metal bands are all about death, destruction and depression, and it might seem like there is no hope, but we're saying that there is," says 20-year-old frontman Kyle Setter. "I always write about my personal convictions and experiences." The wealth provided by personal experience not only influences the lyrics on Saints, but also the concept behind the album title. "People think they are too good to help others," Sutter muses. "People go through so much in life to get where they are, and it's worth the trials and the struggles. It's like all the thing saints go thru to get canonized. When I wrote most of my lyrics, I talked about struggles, and how I've grown as a person, through experiencing losses of friends and personal relationships. In this day and age, people look down on you, like they've never gone through these things, but we all have and there's no shame in that." Such a statement shows the universal quality of the swirling, quiet-loud Saints, and why it'll appeal to all facets of metal fans, from the moshers wearing hoodies to the headbangers looking for a something uplifting.
Most importantly, Saints is full of songs that you will remember, songs that will stay with you for days. While many of today's metal bands write riffs, Destroy The Runner are a band that writes songs: well-constructed, catchier-than-a-cold songs. As for the driving power of the music, Setter contends that playing this music is like having a whole other life force, and that Destroy The Runner, as individuals and as a collective, have dedicated themselves to making this band work. "We want to be around for a long time," the singer says with candor. "We love playing music and we love going into the studio. We love seeing kids in the crowd and meeting them. Without the kids, we couldn't go anywhere, so we love them and hope they will enjoy the record." Thanks to the tight, moshable songs on Saints, Destroy The Runner should have no problem appealing to the kids.
Destroy The Runner are just getting started, and one reason that the kids will gravitate towards Saints is the passion that pumps through the album's veins. "It's so much fun to play, and it feels alive when we play it," he says. "You can feel our hearts in the music and in the lyrics. It's a personal record. It's weird for me to see these words that I've written go out to the world, because it's my heart going out there. It's about me saying, 'There are personal battles that we all go thru, and you can get through this.'" And isn't that what music is for most people? A place and a source of comfort and order in a chaotic world.
Ultimately, Saints is a complete package. Underneath the veneer of heaviness lies a positive, uplifting spirit and smartly written songs with memorable melodies. Saints: a well-rounded debut from an up 'n coming metal band that you may not have heard much from yet. But that's all about to change.