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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."