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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.