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Average work from an above-average band - 70%

vorfeed, August 1st, 2009

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"