Defiance

The Prophecy

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Defiance was never more than a second-tier act within the fertile mid-'80s Bay Area thrash scene -- they arrived late to the party, releasing their debut CD in 1989, and never achieved a commercial breakthrough even on the level of Exodus or Testament, never mind Metallica. But their second and third albums, 1990's Void Terra Firma and 1992's Beyond Recognition, were solid, technically adept thrash efforts that hinted at the death metal that was already bubbling up from the underground. Seventeen years later, three of the band's core members -- vocalist Steev Esquivel (also of SkinLab), guitarist Jim Adams, and bassist Mike Kaufmann -- are back, accompanied by drummer Mark Hernandez of Bay Area peers Vio-Lence and Forbidden. And the music they're making is a natural extension of their back catalog: there are no blastbeats or nĂ¼-metal touches to be found here, just old-school thrash played by four veterans. In a way, they're now on an equal footing with Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel, heading back out into the world to show the kids how it's done. Guitarist Adams is particularly impressive here, spinning out ferocious solos loaded with dive-bombs and distorted fretboard pyrotechnics, as Kaufmann and Hernandez (who sounds a little typewriter-ish, but that's the fault of the producer -- he definitely keeps the music hurtling forward) crunch and rumble through the twists and turns of these riff-heavy compositions. The Prophecy doesn't take Defiance beyond the bounds of what they'd already accomplished on their unjustly forgotten earlier albums, but it doesn't tarnish their artistic legacy, either. Thrash veterans/diehards will love hearing these guys again, and retro-thrash youngsters should pay attention to how the older generation does it.

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