that feeling of anticipation transforming itself from mild nervousness to sheer
anxiety just before listening to a new band’s debut album? I had one such
moment as I was about to push the Play button on Act Of Defiance’s landmark debut ‘Birth And The Burial’. Ever since Shawn Drover and Chris
Broderick left Megadeth in
November last year, the Metal community was abuzz with the possibilities of the
formation of a new band. The suspense was finally broken in February this year,
when the duo finally announced the formation of a super-group with Henry Derek (ex-Scar The Martyr) and Matt
Bachand (Shadows Fall). ‘Birth And The Burial’ will be out on 21st Aug via Metal Blade records and the band
has already released a single/video in the form of “Throwback” and streamed the track “Refrain and Re-Fracture” in June and July respectively to give
listeners a taste of what’s in store for them. However, these tracks barely
scratch the surface when it comes to defining the sound of the album.
does a good thing by offering exactly what the listeners expect as it starts to unfold. No surprises or weird “super-group” experimentation; only full of
attitude, aggressive and in-your-face Metal. The initial three tracks
“Throwback”, “Legion Of Lies” and “Thy Lord Belial” ooze with insanely
fast Thrashy rhythms and groove-laden hooks. Broderick does not waste much time
in showcasing his technical wizardry, and shines through right from the
starting notes of the album. Drover pounds away relentlessly on his kit like
a hungry predator mutilating its prey and asserting its authority. Together,
they provide one of the strongest set of opening tracks an album could have, and
trust me, it will rough up your ear drums and give rise to cataclysmic thoughts
in your head.
initial blitzkrieg, the band takes an unexpected twist towards the melodic end
of the spectrum in “Refrain and Re-Fracture” with Derek’s semi-clean vocals in
the chorus and Brodericks’ beautifully crafted melodic harmonies and classical
scales in the composition. I don’t deny that I was not expecting something
different till this point, but still, “Refrain and Re-Fracture” throws you off-balance
a bit, especially when you listen to the melancholic acoustic intro right after
the explosive finish of “Thy Lord Belial”.
This track also serves as a horizon line between the different moods the album has
to offer. Till “Thy Lord Belial”, the compositions have a distinct Thrash Metal
flavor to it.
The album sounds
like a meatier version of the old-school Thrash bands like Testament, Slayer and
the like. However, everything after “Refrain and Re-Fracture” sounds much more
modern in its compositions, with a lot of variations in vocals as well as a lot
of dynamics in the instrumentation. While “Disastrophe”
has a fun, groovy hook in the rhythms that is bound to make your necks go in perpetual
motion, the following track “Poison
Dream” is a beautiful mix of melancholy and aggression. It twists and turns
like a majestic snake slithering through the melodic harmonies in the intro,
the thrashy gallops in the verse and the fantastic sweeping solo midway to finally
culminate in a melancholic and moody ending. If you think the surprises are
over, the band throws in yet another one with some NWOBHM flavor in “Obey The Fallen”. It has a super-catchy
riff that creeps up on you after a slow bass intro, and refuses to leave your
brain long after you listen to it.
in the distinct personalities of their older bands, and that plays an important
role in shaping their unique old school-new school amalgamation of sound. The
distinct intro of “Crimson Psalm” will
take you back to the glory years of ‘Rust In Peace’, while the clean
vocal sections and stop-start rhythms during the verses resemble Scar The Martyr’s or Shadows Fall’s modern sound.
Broderick’s trademark solos and scale patterns do remind us of Nevermore, especially on tracks like “Poison
Dream”. But no single style dominates over the other and all these different
sonic personalities work together in favor of the band to create a delectable
mix of polished modern metal, raw old-school brutality and tantalizing
Act Of Defiance provide a kick-ass debut offering in ‘Birth And The Burial’. It’s everything you would expect from a
super group and probably one of those rare instances where too many cooks do not
spoil the broth.
“Poison Dream”, “Dead Stare”