True supergroups, those including exceptionally talented songwriters and/or musicians, sometimes come across as frivolous affairs that feel like nothing more than side projects. But with an act like ACT OF DEFIANCE, it's perhaps because the band's members are now predominantly focused on this entity that their expression here exudes a strong sense of earnestness, certainly with the group's sophomore effort, "Old Scars, New Wounds", anyway. The who's who in question with regard to ACT OF DEFIANCE is impressive. Former MEGADETH members Chris Broderick (guitar) and Shawn Drover (drums) are joined by former SCAR THE MARTYR vocalist Henry Derek Bonner and bassist Matt Bachand, formerly of SHADOWS FALL.
ACT OF DEFIANCE's debut, 2015's "Birth and the Burial", clearly boasted the band's pedigree, yet it was written by the unit's MEGADETH alumni. That certainly isn't a bad thing, but with album number two, the quartet's collective creativity definitely leans toward a significantly more dynamic expression. The album sews together classic and contemporary thrash metal with modern-day metalcore, with Broderick's guitar work driving the album throughout. While Bachand's bass lines follow closely to thicken the sound, his presence is slightly too low in the mix to fully appreciate.
ACT OF DEFIANCE wastes little time as the busy guitar work of opener "M.I.A." appears immediately and never lets up, especially with regard to the ripping solo work. The vastly different nature of the follow-up track, "Molten Core", a spitfire of savage and pressing thrash, makes it clear early on that the unit aimed to differentiate its songs as much as possible as they exhibit the impressive breadth of the members' individual capabilities. Conner's good cop/bad cop vocals augment the diversity throughout, especially on a track like "The Talisman", which digs deep into both smooth and coarse pockets. Whether intentionally or not, his melodic stylings are reminiscent of Dave Mustaine's nasally delivery on the very MEGADETH sounding track "Reborn".
"Old Scars, New Wounds" proves its diversity in more than one way. On a lyrical level, ACT OF DEFIANCE is anything but one dimensional. "Another Killing Spree" tackles issues related to hardcore drug use, while the tone becomes lighter with the comedic and ironic take of "Lullaby Of Vengeance", a song filled with rage about the idea of singing angry lyrics. More topically, "Mis-Information Age", aka "M.I.A. ", outlines the current problems with the dissemination of information due to an inundation of questionable sources. Although this isn't entirely new subject matter for metal bands, it is arguably more relevant now than ever before. Also pertaining to social media and daily debate is "Broken Dialect", a number that touches upon the notion of intolerance among people harboring differing views. Lyrically, as with the music and the entire package that is "Old Scars, New Wounds", ACT OF DEFIANCE has earned a thumbs up. The album isn't unforgettable, but it is interesting and enjoyable, to be sure.