Defiance: Beyond Recognition

Defiance: Beyond Recognition
Defiance: Beyond Recognition

Man I’m struggling to think of the last time I even LISTENED to this tape, because nothing on here sounds even vaguely familiar.  This isn’t Defiance the punk band, or the acoustic protest duo, or whatever—this is the thrash metal band.

No death metal here but some very fine technical thrash with a high level of musicianship, shifting time sigs, clean vocals, jazzy interludes, trussed up in a bunch of furious riffing.  Now these dudes are from that bastion of metal, the Bay Area of Kalifornia; which isn’t to say they sound like Testament or Forbidden, but they do.  Still, it’s all quality, and frequently sounds better than the aforementioned namechecks, which makes me wonder why Defiance never seemed to rise above the second-tier rating.  Guess they weren’t pretty enough or something.  They certainly had the hair for thrash, though.  “Beyond Recognition” is the third album, on RoadRacer.

The opening guitar shred of “The Killing Floor” sets the table and when the band kicks in you just know these guys practiced their fingers to quivering bits coming up with this crazy shit.  I guess this isn’t everyone’s bag o’ nuts, but this is the kind of metal I used to get really sweaty over.  I love how “The Killing Floor” dips and dives, time sigs lurching around like drunken, blood spewing unicorns.  But it’s “Perfect Nothing” that makes me think they worshipped at the altar of Testament a tad too often.  Still, I love the bass drum battery and the leads are ripping.  “Dead Silence” (which sounds suspiciously like Dead Toilets) has some more of those jazz leads that sound so good spread on a bed of hot delicious thrash.  And you even hear the bass every once in a blue weevil.

Now on vocals you’ve got Steev Esquivel, a guy you’ve probably heard of, because he went on to do Skinlab, who were wildly famous.  No?  Well, better known than Defiance, at any rate, at least among the young ‘uns.  But back in the day Steev was a good old thrash metal howler.  And he did reunite briefly with the reincarnation of Defiance a few years back.  Yeah, it’s the return of yet another thrash band from the golden age!  They’re still out there.  They can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until we’re told old to hear them anymore.

Here’s a vid of them in the good old days doing the first song off the second side (!) of the tape, “Inside Looking Out”.  This featured Dave White (Heathen) on backing vocals, at least on the album.

Defiance \”Inside Looking Out\”