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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)