Act of Defiance – Birth and Burial (Metal Blade 2015)

What an exciting project this is. I’ve been familiar with Chris Brodrick for quite a while now. He was a touring guitarist for Nevermore back in the day and, of course, his time in Megadeth. Unfortunately for him, his years in Megadeth saw the release of two of that bands three weakest albums, but also one of the masterpieces. I’ve been listening to the Drover brothers since Glenn made an appearance on the King Diamond record House of God. Shadows Fall was never really my thing, but I’m familiar with their sound and style.

The only one here I didn’t really know anything about was the vocalist Henry Bonner. He’s apparently been involved with quite a few bands, but nothing I’ve ever heard. But I got say I’m really enjoying his vocals. He has a really good, intense voice and abilities both in clean, hard rock style, vocals and a more gritty hardcore meets In flames style of performance.

The intensity of the music is I bit different than I anticipated. I don’t know what I expected, but this definitely wasn’t it. This really is edgy, fast, technical music with a focused vocal performance. The opener, Throwback, is totally guitar centric, which is to be expected with guitarists with the abilities of Chris Broderick. The solo midway through the third track, Thy Lord Belial, is just out of this world.

Refrain and Re-fracture is without a doubt my favorite track. It has that magic blend of aggression and melody. It’s also the first track on the disc to feature some melodic vocals, which I appreciate. The first time I listened to this song, I was puzzled by the drums in the intro which seemed ill fitting and out of place. After a few listens I have grown to expect it, but they still seem out of place somehow.

The second half of the disc is a bit weaker than the opening. Dead Stare and Poison Dream deliver a few nice guitar moments, but as stand alone tracks they don’t really make it. The title track finishes of the album and is a great finally. Powerful and strong guitar, backed by a thumping beat and catchy vocals, the lyrics are a bit over the top, but the melody is strong.

Considering that this is the debut, I’m extremely hopeful for the future. I would hope for a little more unity going forward, maybe more of a band sound, rather than heaping so much on the guitar. I guess this is Brodericks band, as he is the main songwriter and focal point. When they play as a band they sound great and I would love to see more of communal effort on the release.  I like the vocals and would love to see Bonner   get a little more room to explore and experiment.  The combo of powerful clean vocals and the intense screaming makes for such great listening experience.

 

Recommended downloads: Throwback, Birth and Burial, Refrain and Re-fracture

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