Seven years is a long time between full-lengths, but considering the reverential tones that colored conservations of Australia's DESTROYER 666 you would have thought that we were talking about a cult '80s band that finally achieved widespread recognition years later. What I mean is that D666 is a band — and the number one act of its kind coming out of the storied Australian scene — that has been considered the gold standard for blackened thrash and war metal, along with a handful of stalwarts like IMPIETY. Seriously, how often do you read D666 referenced in reviews of blackened thrash and/or war metal releases? A great deal, I'm sure. Well, now it's finally time again for the genuine article.The simply, yet aptly, titled "Defiance" does not disappoint and is the group's most fully developed album from a compositional standpoint with a stronger melodic element, but with all the fire and brimstone of 2002's fierce statement of intent, "Cold Steel…for an Iron Age". What has set DESTROYER 666 apart from its peers is a certain indefinable atmosphere that conjures images of smoldering apocalyptic remains and a feeling in listeners that makes blood boil, faces redden, and fists clench. All the best bands have it and it is something that transcends song structure. "Defiance" still has it, as clearly demonstrated by a scalding little bugger like "The Barricades are Breaking" or the riff-swarming, blast-beaten "I Am Not Deceived". But make no mistake, what sets this album apart from similar blackened affairs is distinctive, tuneful songwriting. It is a fine line that D666 walked in recording this album and the balance between blasphemous barbarity and melody has been struck. Returning to "I Am Not Deceived", the attack may be unmerciful, but rolling grooves, a deceptively catchy lick, and a piercing solo through a rhythm part that is downright rockin' makes for a dynamic ditty. Along those same lines, "Weapons of Conquest" may seem outwardly war-fed and chaotic, yet the song is rooted in a more traditional strain of heavy metal – teeth remain bared and lava continues to flow, but accessibility is not an afterthought. The album continues to twist and turn down a path of scorched earth, as D666 allows each track an individual identity, including slower tempos, melodic counterpoints, multi-layered shout choruses (e.g. "A Thousand Plagues"), and — brace yourself — a true blue cleanly sung vocal during "A Sermon to the Dead", that will absolutely shock some fans, yet it should not be taken as anything more than an experiment that works, no matter how uncharacteristic for the band. Slice it and dice it as many ways as you see fit, "Defiance" is a righteous display of vitriolic Aussie blackened war thrash. DESTROYER 666 just decided that an album with staying power might require more work in the arrangement department. The fiends were right. These are songs you'll remember and return to.
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