Welding together dance beats, slick melodies, and moody vocals, Assemblage 23's Tom Shear crosses the catchy synth pop of Depeche Mode with the dark grooves of industrial on Defiance. Always danceable, always a little disturbing, tracks like "Opened" never lose their pulsating momentum, while grittier numbers like "Drive" skillfully echo New Order by pairing bittersweet synthesizer swells with relentless electro groans. "Cocoon," one of the slowest tracks on the album at 81 beats per minute, is spare, scary, and dreamy. "Maps of Reality" is just the opposite -- fast, on the edge, virtually out of control. Defiance might seem a little repetitive to average rock & roll fans, but for listeners looking to return to the gray emotions of '80s, late-Cold War synth pop, Assemblage 23 is unbeatable.
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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano