Saturday, September 21, 2019

The DEFIANTS: "Zokusho"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Power Pop? Melodic Rock? or maybe Hair Metal? Don't you just hate the latter term? The cheeky "insult" to all the eighties bands as they are basically trying to say: it's all about hair, make-up, image, and not really music? But hey, what ever floats your boat. 'We all float down here and you will, too. In fact, they ALL FLOAT! THEY ALL FLOAT!' - oh piss-off, Pennywise. This is 'IT' rather than spooky clown shit. One thing's for sure. The Defiants are original and current Danger Danger members: Bruno Ravel (bass), Rob Marcello (guitars), now with drummer Steve West as a special guest, and of course former D2 vocalist and long-time AOR solo artist: Paul Laine.

In the same way Survivor brought AOR and Pop together to the masses, these chaps are mixing Party Metal and Pop with great result on "Zokusho. Their instantly recognizable austere yet insanely catchy and richly layered combination of guitar driven melodic hard rock and power-pop, it may still come as a mild surprise to realise just how many hooks and sing-a-long moments are on this album. Laine provide New Jersey vocals in the tradition of Bon Jovi, Franke & The Knockouts and Springsteen, while keeping in real and true to The Defiants' formula. He may just soar a little too high on "Stay", but it's at least the honest approach and not the computer or robot voice.

It's nothing new, you say? We've heard it all before, you say? Yeah. This may come as a surprise... there's no such thing as "completely new" in the year of 2019. It's all been done before and rock music hasn't experienced anything "new" (genre, style-wise, etc.) since the eighties. Tracks such as "Love Is The Killer", "Hollywood In Headlights", "Fallin’ For You", "Hold On Tonite", "U X'd My Heart", "Alive", sweeps you away to a place where all the colours, lights, and sounds are constantly playing in the background of your favourite movie or tv-show. Hair Metal City?

Perhaps not quite up there with a masterpiece, it's a friggin' catchy, consistent and pretty excellent sequel. On the one hand containing more yeah's and woah-oh elements of the trademark D2 style to satisfy fans of their later mature work, while on the other still showcasing more of their POP(py) influences to be of fascination to those unfamiliar with their earliest music and who want to experience the Jersey roots of the band members. The second chapter is indeed the intriguing platter, and it's been an enjoyable listen so far. Highly Recommended.

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