Following their departure from MEGADETH in 2014, Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover dove straight back into proceedings through ACT OF DEFIANCE. Comprised an ensemble cast of experienced personnel, their 2015 debut Birth and the Burial demonstrated glimpses of their venture’s potential. Two years later and sophomore effort, Old Scars, New Wounds is here but does this new offering do enough to help ACT OF DEFIANCE stand out in the crowd?
Whilst Birth and the Burial had the pull-factor of something new from Broderick and Drover, Old Scars, New Wounds really has to pull out all the stops to be something special and straight from the off, opener M.I.A sets the tone in the best possible way. Hard-hitting power, excellent shred-work from Broderick and soaring vocal lines from Henry Derek all combine to create a strong opening for the record.
From there, ACT OF DEFIANCE showcase their collective experience to deliver diverse and some utterly powerful songs. Molten Core is a frantic thrashing affair where Chris Broderick and bassist Matt Bachand combine to create a mighty wall of sound and Derek‘s opting for purely growled vocals only enforce this whilst Another Killing Spree has an opening that GOJIRA would be proud of. Offering something completely different, The Talisman throws the direction completely through an acoustic introduction before unfolding into a mid-tempo rager that slowly pounds the eardrums. The cream of the crop however, is Overexposure. Toning the ferocity slightly to slick and imposing grooves as Broderick excels with his excellence on the guitar, add in a strong anthem-esque chorus and a breathtaking solo and the recipe is complete. It’s easily the best song on the album and showcases the skill at ACT OF DEFIANCE‘s disposal.
From there, things continue to what you’d expect as ACT OF DEFIANCE rapidly dispose track after track. Lullaby of Vengeance unleashes riffs that just bounce off the consistent rhythm from drummer Shawn Drover and Conspiracy of the Gods ignites the final third of the record due to the galloping sound that is heightened through another excellent lead guitar display from Chris Broderick. However, as Old Scars, New Wounds reaches it’s conclusion ACT OF DEFIANCE seem to buckle somewhat. Here, tracks begin to blend and whilst individually impressive, as a whole it blends together to become somewhat forgettable. Take Rise of Rebellion, the final song, for example. Instead of acting as a final flourish to a frantic album, the track lulls and quickly falls to the back burner compared to the album’s strongest moments. It’s disappointing but fortunately the damage is limited and doesn’t impact the end result.
Whilst there are moments that drag and ultimately feel lacklustre, on the whole, Old Scars, New Wounds is a solid new offering from ACT OF DEFIANCE, one which shows a band that is growing and expanding their sound and chemistry as a unit. It’s an album that bolsters variety, technical flurries and all-out power and delivers an whirlwind of a listening experience. A strong album that will feel at home in any metal fan’s music collection.
Old Wounds, New Scars is out now via Metal Blade Records.
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