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Act of Defiance - Old Scars, New Wounds Award winner

Act of Defiance
Old Scars, New Wounds
by J-F "Thrashing Assault" Briard at 01 October 2017, 3:51 AM

Following their debut album, aptly named "The Birth and the Burial", ACT OF DEFIANCE offers us this time around a more refined formula with their second album "Old Scars, New Wounds". More nuances and influences are thrown into the music this time around, with no definite metal sub-genre  dominating. The album instead experiments (successful attempts mostly) with several, including Thrash, Death, Groove, and probably others too. When comparing the 2 albums' titles and cover arts, it may gives us a glimpse of a recurring concept, lyrically and thematically speaking. That concept may be possibly the pain of living, if I am not mistaken.

"M.I.A." is a very solid opener, with the guitar riffs harnessing the energy of Thrash metal and adding a little dose of brutality with the growls. Is is also the first single released to promote the album and feature plenty of shredding solos. "Molten Core" really ups the ante and is probably the most intense on this release. It is a surge of true anger flowing in your ears and it is relentless in its fury, blowing your face off in the process! "Overexposure" is the second single released… and a very accessible groovy song. There is mid career "In Flames" kinda vibe and the vocals are quite melodic during the choruses. The slower and quite gritty "The Talisman" is a very atmospheric song and the third single released. Starting with Chris Broderick doing an acoustic section, we can safely guess that this is just, of course,  the calm before the storm.  Shawn Drover's cymbal-work during the intro is particularly noteworthy. The song is brooding and heavy; TESTAMENT's "The Ritual" mixed with a tiny bit of "The Gathering" would seem like a fair comparison to me. There is a lot of emotion put into the clean vocals, especially during the choruses.

The aggressiveness of "Lullaby of Vengance" shows no compromise with melody at all, featuring only growling and rage-filled choruses, which are particularly catchy I think. It uses a similar approach to the second track "Molten Core" but is a little groovier. "Circle of Ashes" is very groovy too use a more melodic and modern approach, mixing cleans and growls. The vocals in the choruses of this release are usually only cleans or growls, but this time, it uses both in a very intriguing melody I think. The main guitar riffs and the guitar solos in "Conspiracy of the Gods" are pleasantly hectic and chaotic. A slower recurring part is even a bit Doom-metal influenced… but I'm not exactly sure, it is hard to classify. "Another Killing Spree" has plenty of groovy guitar riffs, sometimes resembling mid-career PANTERA material. The guitar solo is a tiny bit too short I think, but the guitar riffs in the post-solo section are very catchy. The shredding guitar leads in "Broken Dialect" (especially at the beginning) are very powerful and intricate. The verses use growls but the choruses are passionately melancholic and melodic. "Rise of Rebellion" is closing the album and feature another acoustic guitar as its introduction, just like the fourth track "The Talisman", only more exotic in its sound. Following that, the vocals alternates a lot between growls and clean vocals, giving us a sense of duality contrast between frustration and hope. The guitar solo is particularly well composed here.

"Old Scars, New Wounds" is an excellent album overall. Henry Derek shows us that he's a very polyvalent singer, alternating easily and frequently between raspy Thrash clean vocals, "regular" clean vocals and Death growls. Chris Broderick is still a very technical guitarist, whatever the band he's in… and that couldn't be more crystal clear here. Shawn Drover is an underrated drummer focusing more on subtle nuances and technicality rather than focusing purely on speed and heavyness, which is refreshing I think. Not all bands should force double bass drumming into their sound, a decision which I applaud. If I could find any major gripe I had while listening, it would be the song "Reborn" which I found strange and rather forgettable, unfortunately. Matt Bachand's bass could've also been a bit more in prominence maybe. Every other aspects however are carefully written and has great value. Each song ultimately adds a lot to the cachet of this great release!

Production: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

1. M.I.A.
2. Molten Core
3. Overexposure
4. The Talisman
5. Lullaby of Vengance
6. Circle of Ashes
7. Reborn
8. Conspiracy of the Gods
9. Another Killing Spree
10. Broken Dialect
11. Rise of Rebellion
Chris Broderick - Guitar
Henry Derek - Vocals
Shawn Drover - Drums
Matt Bachand - Bass 
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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Edited 05 February 2023

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