posted on 12/2009 By:
Defiance seems to be chronically late to the party: This bay area thrash act released its debut in 1988, at the tail end of the thrash boom. The band released three albums in all before packing it in around ’94. Now at the tail end of another thrash boom, Defiance has reformed and released The Prophecy. Truth to tell, in my twenty years of listening to metal I had not heard of Defiance until now. So, although there were likely some thrash fanatics pissing their pants in anticipation of a Defiance reunion, I think it is safe to say that the average metalhead was not. But, Defiance has returned nonetheless, and The Prophecy is not half bad. Although, whatever it was supposed to prophesize, has probably already happened.
Not having heard Defiance’s previous material, I cannot say how The Prophecy compares to it, but with this release the band has stayed quite true to a late-eighties thrash sound. The recording obviously benefits from modern recording technology, but style-wise there are no overt modernizations. Vocalist, Steve Esquivel reins in the screeching and shouting that characterizes his work in Skinlab for a subtly more melodic performance that, if not remarkable, is at least fitting, in a poor man’s Chuck Billy kind of way. Drummer Mark Hernandez’s playing is solid and energetic with a tasteful application of double bass drumming that energizes the tracks without going overboard. The true star on The Prophecy, though, is guitarist Jim Adams. Adams’s combines rock solid rhythms with spidery technical flourishes and solos that run the gamut from soulful to shredding.
Despite Adam’s obvious talents, The Prophecy does not contain a great deal of material that I would call above average. A combination of too much mid-paced riffing, pedestrian lyrics and lackluster choruses will likely doom this record to the middle of the thrash heap. But that is not to say that the album does not have moments of brilliance. The solos, as mentioned before are stellar across the board, but the forty second workout on “Desert Sands”, in which Adams appears to play trade solos with himself is particularly notable. On the more melodic side of things, “War Inside” has a positively majestic refrain that serves as the songs hook, and the mellow instrumental “Eschaton” features some beautiful harmonized playing. Riff-wise, The Prophecy is on balance a meat and potatoes affair, but tracks like “Sloth” and “Fuel the Fire” feature some finger twisting riffs of Mustaine caliber.
The Prophecy is a solid, well crafted album, but to these ears it is short on the blistering, neck snapping riffs that the best thrash is made of. It is, however, a pleasure to listen to Jim Adams shred his ass off, so for those with a yen for tasty leads, the album may just be worth checking out. For the average thrash fan, though, I would not consider The Prophecy a must-have.
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