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I wasn't sure we'd ever get another D666 album. After the superlative "Cold Steel…" we got nothing except the EPs "Of Wolves, Women, and War" followed by "Terror Abraxas" way back in frigging 2003. Six years of whistling silence descended on the band, and though I was sure it wasn't the last we'd hear from the members themselves, as a band I admit I was fairly certain Deströyer 666 was over with. I received talk of a new album with skepticism, both over its eventual existence and its quality – after such a long break, how could they ever recapture the fire that made them great?
They obviously never lost it, as "Defiance" may in fact be the best album they have ever recorded, certainly the most consistent one, without the odd dead spots that marred past works. Every damned song on here is pure D666 magic bristling with burning steel riffs and unlimited attitude, blazing with the trademark fury of this band. After one spin you will be raging along with instant classics like "I Am Not Deceived", "The Barricades Are Breaking" and "A Thousand Plagues". Fuck, man, the first two minutes of "Human All Too Human" packs more riff-mastery than most bands manage in a whole album. There's not a dull moment on this disc, even after listening to it nonstop for weeks I don't find any spots where my interest flags, no tracks I skip over. The album stands together entire and complete, each song in its own place. Closer "A Sermon To The Dead" is a surprise, sporting the first clean vocals I have ever heard on a D666 album, but they work, and do not sound out of place at all, only adding to the feral majesty of the song itself.
I had doubts, but this album blasted them all into little twitching pieces. Defiance is another powerful, uncompromising slab of wrath from this most wrathful of bands.
It goes without saying that Deströyer 666's long-waited "Defiance" was one of the most anticipated metal releases of 2009. Having cultivated a staggeringly large fanbase for such an underground band, Deströyer 666 languished for six years before finally releasing this, their fourth full-length, to an eagerly awaiting audience. The result might surprise many; Deströyer 666 has, in addition to their once resolutely oldschool sound, injected a heaping dose of sleek, modern extreme metal both to the benefit and detriment of the album overall, and I can say that this album has just as many pros as cons, coming out somewhat average on the other side.
Despite the length of time it took for "Defiance" to arrive, it seems to be a remarkably confused album, with numerous contradictory elements fighting each other for dominance of the release's sound. Deströyer 666 has always been known as a band primarily devoted to authentic, old-school styles of black, thrash, and death metal, but the sudden inclusion of a much more modern songwriting and production style really throws the listener for a loop at first spin. A whole myriad of disparate influences are recognizable here, from the more typical warlike Australian black/thrash style the band originates from to more midpaced, groove driven death metal like Bolt Thrower and even highly melodic modern death metal like Amon Amarth. The amount of influence taken from this last band seems pretty staggering; tracks like "Blood for Blood" or "A Thousand Plagues" wouldn't seem to far removed from the Swedish collective's later catalog at all.
Unfortunately, while the influences taken from more modern metal styles allow Deströyer 666 to flex their melodic wings a bit more, it's at the cost of some of the raw aggression and intense, oldschool songwriting the band has always been known for. The clean, streamlined production strips away much of the power of the individual instruments, with a too-smooth guitar tone and lackadaisical drum presence that are relatively heavy and perfectly audible but don't do much to move the music along. The instrumental performances suffer similarly, with the drumming being oddly enough the biggest culprit. Drummer Mersus sounds timid and hesitant behind the kit, playing it safe at even the most intense moments on "Defiance", almost as though he's afraid of intruding on the rest of the band with too much energy on his part. This seemingly minor element saps a great deal of the aggression from a record that already struggled in that department.
Really, the central problem with "Defiance" is that, while it's perfectly listenable, that's all it is: listenable, without any distinguishing qualities beyond that. Regardless of one's opinion of Deströyer 666 before this album, you could at least say that they had a very established, unique style of metal that was hard to mistake for any other band out there. On "Defiance," though, this is lost, and Deströyer 666 comes off sounding like a collage of just about every other major extreme metal band in the scene today, professional enough but sterile and lacking personality. Older Deströyer 666 is a recognizable and lucid blend of black, death, and thrash metal, but "Defiance" simply throws these genres together into a sort of melodic sludge that gets old quickly and leaves nothing to be discovered after the first listen.
While "Defiance" is by no means a particularly bad album, its waffling sound and lack of identity doom it to be forgotten quickly after its initial glamor has worn off. Whether it's a matter of rust after six years of inactivity or a true loss of inspiration, one thing remains clear: Deströyer 666 will have to step up their game tremendously on their next release to remain relevant in today's metal world.
Heard a lot about this band but never actually heard anything by them; I always thought these guys were in that whole "war metal" scene, Bestial Warlust, Gospel of the Horns, etc- somewhat decent stuff but not really my cup of tea. The general blackened/thrash on here's not too far away from that sort of stuff I guess, but there's a big helping of, I dunno, Bolt Thrower midpaced catchiness and some seriously dense atmosphere (reminds me vaguely of some early Hypocrisy, for some reason) that makes things a lot more enjoyable.
There's a lot more classic metal influence throughout; certainly Blood for Blood's stuffed full of melodic leads over a very Bolt Thrower-ish rhythmic crunch. It's probably the best on here; particularly with those massive backing vocals in the final section.. "Here our cryyyyyy", man, nothing's pumped me up this much since, well, probably since I put on Manowar's Battle Hymn half an hour ago. Still! An epic track. Likewise, that little lead break in waaaar Stand Defiant reminds me one hell of a lot of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck". It's funny that for the most part I don't really listen to a huge amount of the classic stuff, but when that sort of stuff is thrown into the thrash/death/black mire like in this case it sounds freakin' awesome.
'Defiance' falls short of being anything superlative, though. Many parts throughout this album are worthy of some raving; but like many an almost-a-classic type release there's a heap of filler with the good stuff. After the ridiculously catchy, heavy and epic punch of the first three tracks things get somewhat underwhelming for some time; Stand Defiant and Path to Conflict both come and go rather unremarkably, and it's not until the stirring, if rather straightforward black metal riff-fest of "A Thousand Plagues" comes along that they really get their mojo back.
Overall, it seems that when Destroyer go for a relatively straight forward approach in terms of riffing and general songwriting things work out best. Brilliant vocals, lots of excellent lead playing and for the most part excellent riffs throughout; the album closes on one hell of a massive song too, with the atmospheric and surprisingly eerie and melodic "Sermon of the Dead" (complete with some disconcertingly earnest clean vocals) finishing off things on a very gloomy and satisfying note. Nothing else to say really. It's been well done and if you like metal you should enjoy it. It's a testimony to this record, definitely, that this review was really hard to write- every time I put this on, my mind goes out the window and I felt an almost irrestible urge to go out and beat up a junkie. And that's a good line to end this review on.
(originally written for www.heathenharvest.com)
Destroyer666 was initially a Thrashy Death Metal project for KK Warslut, but they also had some mild Black Metal influences. The last full-length album, Cold Steel, veered off into largely Thrash, or Blackened-Thrash, Metal territory--which was famously worshipped by fans, and still is.
To be honest, I feel that part of the "less impressed" feel some fans have towards Defiance is simply that it doesn't sound enough like Cold Steel. Defiance shouldn't be compared solely to Cold Steel--it should be weighed against D666's catalog. And in that, it falls pretty well in line with what I expected from KK & company. Granted, I would've preferred a little more Thrashiness, but this is still some excellent Death Metal.
If you want to compare it to a single album, Defiance is better to be compared to Phoenix Rising than Cold Steel any day. The overall feel of the album is much more akin to the Death Metal stylings of Phoenix Rising than the perhaps Blackened-Thrash feel of Cold Steel. And quite frankly, I love Phoenix Rising. Aside from that, there are actually a couple moments on this album that recall Hypocrisy's Final Chapter (and there-about) era. The songs Stand Defiant and Sermon to the Dead both evoke Hypocrisy's thick atmospheric melodic style. The guitars still squeal and many riffs are addictive and memorable. On a personal level, Blood for Blood, Sermon to the Dead, Human All Too Human and Stand Defiant are my favorite tracks.
Lyrically, D666 is hitting all the expected thoughts and themes. There really has been no loss in the stinging cynical quality of the lyrical assault the band delivers, although there is nothing quite to the "shocking" level of "Raped" from Cold Steel. Songwriting is still clever and sharp, and the nihilistic and war-ravaged themes found in their older releases are evident here as well. Many of the lyrics are bound to put an evil grin on your face. Personally, the songs Blood for Blood, A Thousand Plagues, Path to Conflict, Human All Too Human, and Sermon to the Dead are the lyrical stand-outs.
If this album has one real failing, it's a seeming lack of actual progression. This is a very good release overall, in line with Phoenix Rising's somewhat Thrashy-Death style. The Thrashier Cold Steel elements are much more minimal, and if that's what you're seeking, you may be disappointed. Through and through, though, it's still very much Destroyer666, and very enjoyable. I found very little on the album that could actually be considered true "filler."
Also worth noting, I have the digi-pak version of the CD, and it lists 10 songs on the back, although there are only nine. "The Truth" is listed as a tenth track and it's not on there, nor are there printed lyrics for it. Watch out for that.
Like I said, if you're a fan of Destroyer666 and Phoenix Rising especially, then this will likely appeal to you. It just doesn't feature a whole lot of musical or artistic growth. Consider it "standard" D666, which isn't exactly a bad thing (unless they continue without real growth in the future).
"To good friends, a good cause, a good battle, and a good death."
A quick Deströyer 666 history lesson for you. Formed in Melbourne, Australia by Keith aka KK Warslut of the cult band Bestial Warlust, the various members now reside in Holland, Germany and Britain in order to be more involved with goings on in the metal world. "Defiance" marks their first studio album in 7 long years and first release of any kind in 6 despite never having actually split up, and to mark this special occasion (as well as for future projects of the site) I shall also do my review of what I consider a genre classic from the band, 2000's "Phoenix Rising" record. Time now though for "Defiance"...
Given the length of time since 2002's excellent "Cold Steel... For an Iron Age", "Defiance" could almost be seen as a reformation album. Hell, Immortal's last album came out in 2002 and they've had time to split, reform, tour and record a new album too. Worse than the half decade plus wait though is that my consensus on "Defiance" is that it could be a reformation album. 'Reformation albums' are nearly always average affairs at best, where bands all too often find themselves showcasing their inability to write and/or play like as they did in their younger years, and D666 have fallen into this trap with "Defiance". For this reason Immortal's upcoming follow-up to "Sons Of Northern Darkness" should be mighty interesting.
The basic elements of what made "Cold Steel..." so good and "Phoenix Rising" so amazing are both present - D666's usage of tremolo leading riffs, rising out of the song's basic structure to give their unique blend of classic metal riding atop thrashing black (or blackened thrash?) rhythms - and this is here aplenty in the likes of "Blood For Blood" and "A Thousand Plagues". KK it must be said sounds as venomous as he always has done - yeh his vocals haven't really changed but why fix what ain't broke? However over the barren years the magic spark of D666 seems to have slowly fizzled out of them, despite very little change in style. The leading riffs, THE element over anything else which played a greater part in D666 becoming such a household name (relatively speaking), sound tired and unimaginative against the likes of classics "I Am The Wargod" and "Black City - Black Fire". Why this would be so is impossible to say as many of the key ingredients - decent sound, good guitar tone, a stable guitarist line-up - are all there. So is that burning desire which is missing?
Against how it might sound "Defiance" is not a total failure. I am comparing it to great records past and so most albums will be inferior, and this does go to flame my disappointment. But "A Sermon To The Dead" benefits from an unexpected use of clean vocals; "Human All Too Human" and "A Thousand Plagues" are the home to good leading riffs and "A Stand Defiant" executes a good change in pace, an area Deströyer have always been proficient in.
But the feeling of being disappointed by few truly great moments clouds my judgment of "Defiance". Perhaps this record was over-constructed in it's lengthy making? If so, here's hoping we see a speedy turn-around and an improvement in D666, album 5.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Ever since 2002’s epic thrash attack “Cold Steel… For An Iron Age,” Destroyer 666 fans have been voracious for new material from these Australian blackened thrashters. With 2003’s equally impressive “Terror Abraxas” EP and a back catalog that, if nothing else, has served as a testament to the band’s utter consistency, it’s hard to imagine anything these guys released would disappoint. Now, in 2009, a full six years after their last release, KK Warslut and his minions have unleashed their newest aural assault upon the masses.
“Defiance” was described on their website as containing “no bullshit, no hype, no lies, no pretense,” and all in all, it’s hard to argue with that statement. This is pure blackened thrash metal through and through: angry, fast, and heavy, yet at the same time rife with memorable moments and effective use of melody. Anyone who’s heard Destroyer 666 before, however, will know that this could very well describe any of their work since 1997’s “Unchain The Wolves.”
But that’s perhaps the greatest strength to Defiance. KK and the rest of the band aren’t trying to reinvent themselves here; they’re merely refining the elements that have already made them great. While “Cold Steel…” was a terrific album overall, one flaw was the noticeable lack of solos on some tracks. On Defiance, thrashing opener “Weapons Of Conquest” takes this shortcoming and pummels it to death, ripping into an shredding lead barely 15 seconds into the track. Effective use of melody has always been a strong point for these guys as well, and this album is no different, with tracks like “Blood For Blood” and “A Stand Defiant” building off some great melodic riffs. The obligatory epic tracks like “Human All Too Human” retain that same colossal feel the band is known for, with excellent songwriting to boot. In short, “Defiance” shows the band in top form in all respects.
KK’s vocals are also superb as usual, and reaffirms why I consider him one of the best vocalists in metal today. He delivers his lines with an angry rasp that is both very fitting for the music and very easily understood. Drummer Mersus and bassist Matt Razor both provide backing vocals throughout the tracks, belching forth more brutal vocals when the songs call for it. The lyrics are very much typical for the band, with themes of war and nihilism and occasional references to German philosopher Nietzche (Human, All Too Human is even named after one of his works). The lyrics are intelligent without being pretentious and are both well written and well delivered. Perhaps the only sore spot is that the gang vocals don’t sound especially powerful though are used liberally at the end of some songs.
But regardless of how one takes the group vocals, it cannot be denied that the guitar work on this album is absolutely furious. These guys write riffs that could cause the death of infants under the right circumstances. Be it thrashing riffs like those found in “I Am Not Decieved” or more melodic riffs like the main lick of “A Thousand Plagues,” Destroyer 666 never cease to throw forth top-tier material. Unlike previous albums, however, the production on Defiance puts the rhythm guitar slightly lower in the mix, accentuating the solos and melodies while making the actual riffing less prominent. It definitely takes a couple of listens to really appreciate all the guitar work in each song. Yet still, the riffing and soloing is furious and epic as always, and reminds me every time I listen why these guys deserve every bit of recognition they get.
Overall, Defiance is exactly the album fans have been waiting for after all this time. While it doesn’t offer any major leaps forward in style, it doesn’t have to. Destroyer 666 are merely refining everything that has made them great, from the epic leads to the scathing fist-pumping vocals. And yet still, instances like the soaring clean vocals in the background of “A Sermon To The Dead” reminds us that this is not a band content to sit on their laurels and release something we’ve all heard before. On Defiance, the band sounds fresh and furious, and yet still excels at all those elements that made us love them in the first place. Yes, we waited six years for this. And it’s fucking awesome.
Contrary to the statements made in the other two reviews of this album, I think this album excels in the areas that have made Destroyer 666 the best blackened thrash band in Australia (and trust me there are quite a few to compare them to) - namely tight, aggressive riffing, drums that hit you like a train with scythes on the wheels, and defiant (excuse the pun), hate-filled oral vomit.
What this album lacks in originality it makes up for in sheer power and rawness. The production quality reflects that of Phoenix Rising, but I must say that the drums were a little loud on the band's fifth offering.
Sufficient amounts of the memorable riffing from Destroyer 666's previous albums have all but disappeared (apart from tracks like I Am Not Deceived and Stand Defiant), but the addition of over-the-top guitar solos is a stand-out addition to the band's sound. That being said, the guitar tone on Defiance is far superior to that of their other recordings, but still lacks that ultimate clarity that many seem to enjoy.
All in all, this album is a must-have for diehard black and thrash fans. Anyone who likes fast, angry music will not be disappointed. After a few listens, Defiance to me appears to have that same anthemic feel that songs like Australian and Anti-Christ and Black City-Black Fire had. I am seriously considering going into public dressed in leather and spikes and screaming some of the lyrics from Defiance to the unsuspecting public.
The anticipation for this album and the hype that surrounded it are certainly viable when you compare it to the actual album, the song structures and audio quality contained in the recording. Thank fuck that Destroyer 666 have arisen from the ashes of immigration and given us, the unsuspecting Australian and international metal community, this album in all it's majestic evil and brutality.
This is the fifth full-length album from Destroyer 666, an Australian band playing black/death metal.
The production on this album is awful. Who the hell thought that a modern, over-compressed, washy, everything-run-together-with-the-drums-on-top production fit this band? Defiance has close to zero dynamic range, and practically the entire album is clipping. Everything's very close to the same (ridiculously-overdriven) volume, even when it shouldn't be (for example, the lead vocals, backing vocals, and lead guitar on A Sermon To The Dead), which saps all the impact from the performance. Nothing "stands out" from this production at all, so every single part with vocals and more than two instruments sounds terrible on this record. There are lead guitar parts which can barely be heard, and much of the lyrics are incomprehensible, buried as they are beneath a messy layer of instrumentation. If you've got an audio editor on your computer, open up the waveform for any of these songs, and despair... hey, isn't that little red light supposed to be off?!
It's doubly unfortunate because the songwriting isn't so bad. Defiance plays out much like Terror Abraxas, with epic, disdainful songs and an emphasis on atmosphere. This would have been the obvious successor to Phoenix Rising, if not for the production; "Blood For Blood" and "Human All Too Human" would have fit very well on that record. "A Stand Defiant" and "A Path To Conflict" are more aggressive -- though, lamentably, Destroyer 666 never really start thrashing on this album -- and have some good headbanging moments. "A Sermon To The Dead" is amazing, an epic, floating track with an excellent combination of snarled and clean vocals which manage to rise above the rest just long enough to send the album out with a bang.
That said, most of the songs seem just a little below par, and I'm not sure if that's solely due to the production. There's no "A Breed Apart" or "Black City - Black Fire" here; the riffing isn't on the same level, even when it excels. There's nothing wrong with the main riff from "A Stand Defiant", for instance... except in the way it stands out amongst a sea of same-y guitar parts. This is Destroyer 666 -- the whole album should make me sit up and listen, but instead, most of it just seems to flow on by.
This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, but I have to admit that I'm quite disappointed with it. To be fair, it's not *that* bad, and the standout tracks listed below should be killer live, but this is still the weakest Destroyer 666 album to date. There are plenty of new releases I'd rather listen to this year; save your money and spin Unchain The Wolves a few hundred more times instead. Not recommended.
Standout tracks: "A Stand Defiant", "The Path To Conflict", "A Sermon To The Dead"
As most people are well aware thrash, death, and black metal are sub-genres that are required to contain a certain amount of aggression in order to work. Everything about the genres from ideological basis to general riffing style has evolved over-time to simply exude a violent, aggressive nature and its this core tenant that makes the music work. Attempts to write within these genres with this core aspect absent are very noticeable as the ultimate result is something with no redeeming qualities that vaguely mimics the original aesthetic value but without any of important musical elements that make the genres enjoyable. Most troubling is that in recent times bands lacking any such aggression in their music are becoming quite popular and indeed one doesn't need to search particularly hard to find another crappy myspace/garage band of the sort. Whether its silly 'melodic death metal' acts running about trying to imitate Opeth, Arch Enemy, and In Flames, insipid self-pitying USBM acts in the vein of Xasthur, or silly 'retro thrash' bands like Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste ripping off bands from the 80s without truly understanding what made those bands enjoyable there seems to be a never ending stream of people who don't quite grasp what is required to make metal in these sub-genres enjoyable. Far too often in recent times has aesthetic trumped songwriting with bands relying on over-produced and over-distorted down-tuned guitars and triggered drums to make up for inability to produce music with any feel to it. Plastic aggression, in the form of growling lyrics that probably belong in a 15 year old mallgoth's personal diary, has become the primary focus of music while the idea of writing riffs that actually convey some idea, atmosphere, or mood has become a thing of the past remembered by seemingly fewer and fewer people the world over. Quite sadly this trend has claimed another victim in Destroyer 666 as is clearly evident on this album.
It's hard to pinpoint just what went wrong while this album was being written as ultimately the D666 formula that has been in use since Phoenix Rising is still present here. The riffs are still basic thrash riffs relying heavily on tremolo inserted into basic song structures that are more or less just variations on basic verse/chorus structures but something here has gone awry in a very unpleasant way. Some will probably argue that band members have run out of ideas and that this album is another example of bands turning into their own (second-rate) tribute band, while others will likely suggest the members have been listening to far too much modern metal of questionable quality with the influence starting to come through. Regardless of the catalyst for this change ultimately the result is the same, riffs that aren't by any stretch of the imagination memorable, aggressive, or even appropriate for a D666 album. This is the kind of thing one would expect from 16 year old kids who only recently discovered death and black metal in the forms of Amon Amarth and Dimmu Borgir, not from the band who previously released 'Unchain the Wolves'. This lack of effective riffing becomes even more painful when coupled with what ultimately might be the album's biggest flaw, the absolutely atrocious drumming. Admittedly, D666 haven't had an album with consistently appropriate drumming since 'Violence Is Prince of This World', for some reason insisting on drum beats that are far too slow for the music present but in the past that was always forgivable for one reason or another. Generally the drums would occasionally kick into high gear and play at an appropriate speed, or at the very least the riffs would be good enough to over-shadow the rhythmic flaws present. On 'Defiance' there is for all intents and purposes nothing left to counter-balance the plodding, pedestrian performance delivered by Mersus making the poor drumming very noticeable and ultimately unforgivable. It's as if the band is allergic to allowing the drummer to hit the snare drum at a reasonable pace, forcing him to hit it about half as often as he needs to. On the rare occasion the drummer does decide to play at a reasonable pace it's generally in the form of unimaginative and unnecessary blast beats over top of uninteresting riffs. Some folk may be impressed by the gratuitous use of kick drum but overall it comes off as pointless and more just there to cover up for lack of creativity on the kit than anything else.
To summarize the overall impression one gets listening to this album it's hard to think of a more appropriate cliche than 'going through the motions'. Large parts of this album come across as though the band has amnesia, being aware of their previous efforts but not being able to remember what it was that made them work. The end result is something that contains all the aesthetic elements one could come to expect from D666 but without any of the musical elements one would also hope were present. The standard tremolo heavy thrash riffing is as mentioned still there but feels as though it was thrown together from a mish-mash of ideas very quickly without any real sense of purpose or direction. This combined with the abuse of kick drum in certain sections where dual kick doesn't particularly belong furthers the image of a band knowing that these individual elements should be present somewhere but are not quite able to figure out how to arrange them and that to me is shamefully tragic. For all the negatives I've pointed out about this album there are plenty of moments where things actually seemed to be coming together reasonably. For example the better part of 'The Barricades Are Breaking' actually features drumming appropriately paced (even if unimaginative and simplistic) for a blackened thrash song only to be ruined by some of the most bland riffing on the entire album. The last half of 'A Stand Defiant' actually contains some good riffs that are on par with the material found on an album like 'Phoenix Rising' but the song is ultimately dragged down by a painfully boring intro and drums that would be more at home on a 'Green Day' album. Time spent trimming down the elements that don't work on this album and more time spent expanding on the bits that do probably could have produced a good EP's worth of material that would have been received warmly, but that is ever so painfully not the case here. With any luck this offering was merely the result of a rushed attempt to pump out an album, under-thought and over-produced for a reason that can't be boiled down to another band being over-the-hill and needing to retire before they further damage their legacy by releasing album after album of mediocre tripe.