By the late '80s, thrash metal had become quite the hot commodity, and even though only a select few bands had actually managed to sell a considerable number of records by mainstream standards (namely the big four of Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth), there were still countless bands across the U.S. and abroad being rushed through the production line, in the hopes of similar success. Naturally, nowhere was this production line more clogged up or accelerated than in the San Francisco Bay Area, where founding fathers Metallica and Exodus had quickly given way to second (Testament, Death Angel, etc.), third (Forbidden, Vio-Lence, etc.), and even fourth generation thrashers such as Oakland's Defiance. But hey, who's counting? What matters is that, like most other late arrivals to the scene, Defiance were working with what scraps had been left on the banquet table by their revolutionary predecessors -- and finding it difficult to come up with anything remotely original because of it. Sure enough, the Oakland quintet's 1989 debut, Product of Society, was awash in familiar sonic trappings also favored by the likes of Exodus (see "Death Machine," "Forgotten," and "Deadly Intentions," in particular), Vio-Lence (largely due to the inexpressive, often atonal nature of Ken Elkinton's voice), and Mordred (who shared the same crunchy guitar tones). What's more, even though Defiance guitarists Doug Harrington and Jim Adams formed quite the dynamic duo (hear their melodies soar and solos shred on the title cut, "Insomnia," and "Hypothermia," among others), both the acoustic piece, "Aftermath," and the clumsily arranged fret-board marathon, "Tribulation," sound more like the work of producer Jeff Waters, of Annihilator fame. In other words: Defiance still seemed like a band too beholden to pre-established musical elements to stand out from other production line items with Product of Society.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia