Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Defiants Defy Convention By Going Back To What's Great About Rock

The Defiants are the offspring Danger Danger who were a casualty of the grunge rock scene. One of many steeped in a melodic rock tradition that peaked right around 1989. Glam rockers were adding strains of funk and blues to their singable anthems. Times were good. And then came Kurt Cobain and the party ground to a halt. Here and there with fits and starts, this music has continued to find a home, mostly in Europe. American fans have largely been shut out of the party since terrestrial radio went dark.

The Defiants pick up where the party ended. Their new album, called Zokusho (which is a Japanese word meaning sequel) makes for some rather impressive ear stimulation. "Love Is The Killer", a song Bon Jovi would reject today, but a song his fans will embrace opens side one. The big choruses, the cacophony of keyboard sounds, and those lyrics, ripped right from the pages of a late 80's Soap Opera Digest - this is what the New Jersey faithful have been waiting for.

Guitarist Rob Marcello tricks out his guitar for all the needed effects along with piercing, precise solos. Singer Paul Laine is amazingly well equipped to ride these notes high into  places older bands fear to tread. Steve West assaults his drum kit with high octane accuracy. "Hollywood In The Headlights" is the PERFECT southern California summertime anthem. These days good songwriting is hard to find, but not on this album. An instant hit single for a world corrected for lousy tastes. There are rich harmonies, complete musical ideas and guitar solos to ice the cake with.

"Fallin' For You" is a tad more muscular but still manages to be catchy as hell. The apple doesn't fall far from the Danger Danger tree.  There are a few modern touches, but nothing to disrupt the musical synergy. "Hold On Tonight" is a lush mid-tempo radio ready half-ballad employing every great 80's cliche with unabashed love for the genre. "Allnighter" has a more modern approach, much like something W.E.T. might record. The big hooks and choruses immerse the ears in what could be a great live in concert track."U X'D My Heart" invokes Mr. Big's "Just Take My Heart" via a sparse guitar intro followed by big bold and decisive hooks. Again the subject matter is about women breaking hearts and the like. It's as if the band has joyfully chosen not to delve into any topics that would bum people out in 2019.

"It Goes Fast" adds a nice pop sheen to an uptempo drum pounder. The melodies here are all advanced songwriting honors class. "Stay", "Alive" and the bar closer, "Drink Up!" all rock out in style without slowing down. No power ballads here, just glam oriented pop metal with zero filler. This record should be loved by fans of Poison, Kiss, Danger Danger, Ratt, Firehouse, Mr. Big, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Van Halen. There are a few bands making this kind of music, but none of them are writing and arranging songs of this caliber. "Zokusho" is the best melodic rock album of 2019 thus far.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great album, based on this review and a couple of the
    earlier singles released on YouTube! Paul Laine had a bit of a rock
    radio hit with a melodic ditty called "Dorianna" in the spring of 1990, from his album "Stick It In Your Ear", as produced by the sadly-missed Bruce Fairbairn. Well worth seeking out, for the uninitiated!

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  2. Again, not a problem at all, and always happy to point a finger in the
    right direction for a fellow hardcore melodic rock music fan. Enjoy!

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