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Fatal Deterrent is Deadfall’s second outing, and instead of being a brand new release, it’s really more like Ordeal By Fire EP 2.0. The nine track demo is nearly 45 minutes long, and by the end of it, unlike many shorter EPs, it feels like a proper release. Dropping the sluggish Life or Death, Fatal Deterrent contains five of the tracks present on Ordeal By Fire. Each one has been improved and rerecorded in the months since Ordeal By Fire, but that be said, they are still the same tracks. On the one hand it’s nice to have superior recordings of the originals, on the other if, like me, you’ve listened to Ordeal By Fire many times, it takes away some of the enjoyment from listening through to this demo.
Since Ordeal By Fire, the previous lead guitarist left the band, but unfortunately Deadfall had yet to replace him at the time of recording, so lead work is handled by the rhythm guitarist. You wouldn’t have guessed it though, Mike is an excellent guitarist, better than the previous lead player in many opinions, but on the down side he has had little time to construct the solos, most are improvised, and unfortunately it shows sometimes, as his solos can degrade into (albeit very impressive) shredding. That said, if this is your first listen of Deadfall, you probably wouldn’t notice there was anything amiss. I can however happily report the band have located an excellent new lead player.
But what of the new tracks? There are four here, and each are excellent. The first is Powers That Be, a remarkably creepy anthem, which brings such songs as Seasons in the Abyss to mind. It’s manages to be fast and yet chuggy at the same time, and a very well realised verse and chorus. A rather proggy mid section with bizarre bar lengths keeps you interested and the slight variations across the repeated sections Deadfall are so good are present. The song shows a superior and in some ways more mature song writing talent than most of Ordeal By Fire. The second is Obliterate, a track that sounds right at home amongst the older tracks, a thumping drum beat, agressive riffs and pretty complex song structure give this little thrasher a high grade. It’s pacy and manic at points, and varies its speed in the same way Hold My Own does. My only complaint is that perhaps it is slightly too choppy, losing momentum at times.
The third new track is a 2.30 instrumental called Pandemonium, which treads the same sounding ground as Powers That Be. A stupidly fast rhythm section (Pete keeps the double kick going solidly at full speed throughout whole song) underlines soaring harmonised lead work. It’s just the right length and just the right intensity and works extremely well. Some instrumentals can end up being filler, but this is careful not to go on any longer than it needs to, and is all the better for it.
The final track, Resistance is Futile, is a good example of Mike’s current writing. Arguably the best track on the album, it’s a four minute thrasher of such quality it makes you instantly want to listen to it again. Unlike say Obliterate, this keeps up the beat solidly almost all the way through, offering only snatched pauses to get your breath back before it ploughs on. Based mostly around one very memorable riff, all sections of the song feel truly connected, even with a complex bridge and pre-chorus included. A truly well realised track, even repeated listens wield nothing where you could think “I wonder if it would sound any better if done differently”.
Overall this is a good effort, only let down by the fact most of this isn’t really new, and the slightly rushed production (the band wanted it finished in time for the Bloodstock festival). Recorded, like Ordeal By Fire, in their bedrooms, the quality is excellent given the amateur setup, though suffers when directly compared with some other releases of this kind. Compared to Ordeal by Fire, Fatal Deterrent is by far and away the superior recording, and thrashier than ever, with even the more sluggish old tracks like Nine Lies sounding simply more aggressive in this version. Is it a vital album to pick up? Depends. If you own Ordeal By Fire and love it, or never picked it up in the first place, defiantly, whilst if saw little in Ordeal By Fire, this release probably won’t change your opinion of Deadfall drastically. It is better certainly, but not quite the great leap many were hoping for.
That said, Deadfall have new tracks in the pipeline, and if their live renditions are anything to go by, the next release will be of simply divine quality. Were this a first release, it’d score in the high eighties, but given most of this isn’t original, this sadly pulls the score down. A good effort, if not quite a great effort.