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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