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The Defiants - 'Zokusho' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 27, 2020    
 
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A classy album of Hard Melodic Rock.

Going by the Japanese meaning of the title, former Danger Danger bandmates Bruno Ravel (bass), Rob Marcello (guitar), Paul Laine (vocals/guitar) and – as a guest on this album – Steve West (drums) are ready to start "the next chapter." 'Zokusho' broadly divides along the lines of slightly-sugary tracks and edgier yet not necessarily harder Melodic songs. Since the two style groups roughly alternate it all makes for very enjoyable listening.

On the sugary side, Marcello stands out in opener 'Love Is The Killer' with a rich, full-bodied solo – Danger Danger fans will relish the sound – while the soaring chorus (a regular Defiants feature) dominates. 'Standing On The Edge' leads with synth that borders on a Sci-Fi feel, although the combination of punchy vocals, quick Marcello licks and multiple backing vocals might mean it's too busy for some, and thus lacking the characteristic clarity of Danger Danger. However, this is a different band – no matter the familiar members – and a different century (ouch). Interestingly, the stripped-back bridge is where it's at. Laine sounds strained on the Hardline-esque 'Stay' as if he's performing the release in order on the live stage and running out of gas. 'Alive' is over-sugared, and also punctuated with synthesised popping noises and lyrics like "fell through a hole in the sky."

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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With a little less sweetener comes the fabulously vintage 'Hollywood In Headlights'. Marcello breezes through jam-packed guitar fills, although the melodic twinkles in the background are distracting – they're bright but lack bite and the apparently compulsory key change doesn't add much either. 'Fallin' For You' has a fun edge and curious melody – think H.e.a.t's 'Need Her' – whereas the echo of the lead vocals on 'Hold On Tonite' is a catchy touch and Laine shows he's still got it with some impressively high ad-lib. 'Allnighter' packs crunchy guitar and moody undertones, while straight-up heartbreak song 'U X'd My Heart' opens with melancholic guitar before Laine delivers silkily over the punchy riffs. Marcello fires off electric licks in blink-and-you'll-miss-it-moments and guitar-heads will surely enjoy his tidy solo. Closer 'Drink Up!' has a Southern kick to its dive-bar vibe much like a sunnier Cadillac Three.

My major gripe is that the tracks feel long with most of them punching in at over five minutes. The effects can also sometimes seem overkill; these musicians are competent, so they don't need the filler. However, there's plenty of sugar to pour and this sweetens a classy album of Hard Melodic Rock.

Sophie Brownlee

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