Thursday, October 12, 2017

Act of Defiance - Old Scars, New Wounds (2017)

When guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover left Megadeth, it did not really take long until they got back up on the horse, creating a new band where their musical freedom was not interrupted by Mr. Mustaine. They added bassist Matthew Bachand (Shadows Fall) and vocalist Henry Derek Bonner (ex-Scar The Martyr) to the fold, and Act of Defiance was complete, quickly releasing their debut album "Birth And The Burial" about a year later. It is a nice debut with several cool songs, it is just not completely brilliant in its entirety.

So now they have released their sophomore effort "Old Scars, New Wounds", and it is more or less a natural follow up to the debut, where the band continue to build their sound of melodic heavy/thrash metal further and clearer. It was obvious that the band had not been together for long, because the sound was a little all over the place, and while this album is not fully cohesive, it is much more so than its predecessor. It is not the most original sound you will ever hear, but it has some nice bits and pieces that should please those who do not have too high expectations.

It is clear that these are talented people we are dealing with, because it all feels professional. The guitars are crunchy and strong, beefed up with some sweet solos, the drumming is incredibly solid, not missing a single beat, and the bass just smacks you down time and time again with its determined power. Just like with the short lived Scar The Martyr though, I do feel like vocalist Henry is one of those guys that some people just cannot get along with. His clean vocals are pretty monotone and boring, which does kind of work with this type of genre, but it is not something you can easily get used too. Fortunately, he uses more of his harsh vocals here, and they fit very well.

So the performances are solid, something I wish I could say the same about in the song writing. Most of the songs here are basic run of the mill metal, they are nice to listen to, but you forget them as soon as they end, and with eleven songs in total, it can become pretty tiresome to get through them all. I just wish there were something to grab onto, something memorable in the songs that can stick to your brain.

Most of the memorable stuff in this record is at the first half, starting with "M.I.A." that catches your attention instantly with its fast tempo and technical riffing, and the speed continues on in the excellent thrash anthem "Molten Core", an energetic song that gets you pumping. It does become more metalcore after that though with "Overexposure", a song that is sure to split opinions, because while it is the catchiest song on the record, it is a strange one just for how lame it is in its approach. After that though, it is fairly smooth sailing towards the end with some of the highlights being the technical "Lullaby of Vengeance" and the dark duo "Conspiracy of The Gods" and "Another Killing Spree".

I am not giving up the hope for this super group, but it is clear that they need even more time to figure out what they want to accomplish with this band. At times, they are a very dark thrash metal band with death metal elements, but other times, they are very melodic and more accessible in its approach, so it is not easy to fully enjoy their music. There are some parts in "Old Scars, New Wounds" that are great, even interesting, but it ultimately falls pretty flat because it lacks a clear cut personality. The guys will find their way sooner or later, but for now, they are shrouded in mystery, so I suggest that you take a spin and take out your own selection of favourites, that is all you need from this record.

Songs worthy of recognition: Molten Core, M.I.A., Conspiracy of The Gods

Rating: 6/10 Broken Dialects

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