Defiant     

Era Of Substitution
Grom Records
2012

With their sophomore effort, Croatian death metal horde, Defiant construct an alloy of melodic Swedish death metal and American brutality.  From the instant the guitars begin on Gates Of Lunacy you notice those characteristic melodic passages and deep, guttural vocals.  Chunks of meaty death metal batter you in between those melodic segments.  Awaken, Red Tree has an early At The Gates feel to the melodic riffing.  But then you are smacked by deep death grooves and a galloping set of riffs.  I guess the closest comparison I can make is early Crown Of Thorns/The Crown.  Interesting time changes infect the initial section of Ishtar's Womb.  A sharp shriek makes an appearance to contrast against the monstrous growling during the rest of the song.  Also of note is the staggered melody and sultry guitar solo that moans and sways before leaping back into the fast-flowing melodies.  Ruins slaps you with a tiny Morbid Angel reference before speeding into chunky death metal riffage.  Blasts of rapid drums spit snares like a machine-gun.  However, at the 1:15 mark the track breaks down into crushing, chugging grooves that pulverize every bone in your body.  A bouncy groove dances along with melodic overtones on 7 Of 9.  I hear echoes of At The Gates in the way the guitars flow, but as previously noted, there is a foundation of meaty, modern death metal.  The clean guitar and warped effects add a nice touch to the composition.  The whole album has a really full and punchy production which at times really fits the music but at the same time I feel like it fails the songwriting by making it sound somewhat like a lot of other bands out there.  Also I feel at times the production flattens the vocals.  Defiant a really strong at the style of domineering brutality and catchy melodic hooks.  While not normally my cup of tea I enjoyed Era Of Substitution but I feel the band could benefit from a production that lets their personality shine through.