Defiance, a double album, is the latest release from Absolva, a band with a strong pedigree: Chris Appleton, Guitar & Lead Vocals (Iced Earth), Luke Appleton, Guitar & Backing Vocals (Blaze Bayley), Martin Mcnee, Drums (Blaze Bayley), and Karl Schramm, Bass & Backing Vocals (Blaze Bayley). Their sound falls solidly in line with their professional experience and cited influences such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Dio, Accept, and Thin Lizzy.
Disc One features all new studio content and Disc Two contains a mix of live recordings and studio tracks consisting mostly of new acoustic versions of songs from earlier in the band’s career. The mix on Disc One is heavy on vocals, and the drums lack bass and have a hollow-sounding snare which struggle to propel the band. Disc Two features live tracks with a lighter mix on the vocals but repeats the drum issue. The vocals on acoustic tracks are so hot it’s often painful at high volume.
The band shares that the album has insanely catchy choruses, an unmistakable lead vocal, and expressive, passionate, and viciously fast guitar work. The first half of Defiance Disc One admirably lives up to the marketing. “Rise Again” comes closest to the ideal with up-tempo pacing mixed with mid-tempo bridges, high speed guitar shredding, and a hook-laden chorus. Absolva is at its best when mixing tempos in songs as “Life On The Edge”, “Alarms”, and “Life And Death”. The second half of Disc One struggles to meet the ideal. “Connections” has an acoustic, keyboard, and vocal intro which lingers for five minutes before the plug is mercifully pulled. “Reflection” attempts to create an epic sound but is derailed by awkward lyrics sung with syllables drawn out to distracting lengths. Disc Two is a curiosity recommended for serious fans only.
Defiance features inspired guitar work and admirably reaches toward excellence, but leaves room for improved song writing to include more memorable choruses and the creative use of tempo changes.
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