What do you do as a band if you just want to play your riffs and your melodies the way you want to, at the speed you want, the intensity you want, and with the sound quality you want when none of those aspects are going to land you in the “groundbreaking” state critics love so much?
They make music that is fleet of foot, a-la Slayer or Death Angel, dirty and virtuosic a-la Exodus or Testament, hardcore-ish as DRI or SOD, and even a little Coroner or Kreator near-death-metal experience-y. Just when the listener thinks they have a bead on it, the band goes in some obtuse, if familiar direction.
But all those directions whip up some intensity and no small amount of creativity, given that most of this has been done before. What tends to hold the project together are the vocals and a shared energy. While not the best produced record you can buy, the band’s collective spirit lifts everything they do up from mere throwback to fresh throwback.
Oxymorons aside, the most pressing issue here is that, once again, there are a glut of bands looking to capture those magical days of yore, and like throwback death, black, and punk, it becomes hard to recommend even a good record that relies so heavily on tropes.
Yet the way the band tears through opener “Desert Ways”, with its drawn out instrumental footrace preamble and almost Vio-lencian vocals is pretty thrilling. And there is masterful control and discipline behind the mad scramble of “Punished Existence”. The point here being that Critical Defiance has synthesized their source material to a fantastic degree, creating a real authenticity, despite the fact that none of this material is particularly fresh or innovative. It hits the thrash/speed/xover spot in my heart exactly like that bands that invented it did.
And that is a bit of magic, frankly. These bastards could have easily filled a bill with Sacred Reich, Whiplash and Nuclear Assault in 1989 and been just as razor as the rest. South American metal, whichever nation it hails from, seems to have the ability to bypass ideas of time and space, originality and inventiveness, and simply sound authentic and vital. Perhaps my southern friends just don’t give a fuck, in the very realest sense, about expectations and provenance. Perhaps they just prefer to get together and make the fucking music the way the fucking music is meant to be made.
Once again, then, I am recommending a record based not on it’s innovation or obscurity, but on its ability to get the blood jumping. Not on its place in the phylogeny, but in its beauty and power in the field. Yes, you have heard this before, and yes, you should hear it again. Don’t think about what it is or isn’t. Just turn it up and thrash with it.