The Defiants - The Defiants
Frontiers Records
Modern Melodic Rock
12 songs (58:25)
Release year: 2016
Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

I don't really know the best way to describe this, the self titled debut by The Defiants. Not in terms of style, but how this band came together. In the year 2009, Danger Danger released their comeback album Revolve with reunited singer, Ted Poley. Revolve also marked the studio debut of guitarist Rob Marcello who joined Danger Danger in 2003, but has only been on a live album with them up to this point as well as collaborating with bassist Bruno Ravel on his own solo album. So, with all that said, after the much heralded comeback album was released, Danger Danger just kind of... lost momentum. They would get together and play live shows here and there but there has been no new release by them since 2009. That isn't to say that the band members haven't been working on music, they have. Just not with each other at the same time. So, Ted Poley releases a couple of solo albums he made with his songwriting partner, and Bruno Ravel, bass, guitars, and keyboards and lead guitarist Rob Marcello of Danger Danger decide to call up their former replacement guy, Paul Laine in Canada, and ask him if he wants to jam. He says yes, and you essentially have a "new" Danger Danger album but without one huge key ingredient, co - writer Steve West. There's also a few other major elements about this band that are not quite like Danger Danger at all.

For one, The Defiants have adopted a "wild west" type of theme for this album. The band name is done in an old style font reminiscent of wanted posters. Promo pics of the band members also have them decked out with ponchos, hats, spurs, and there's even a pic of them all riding off into the sunset on horseback. Hell, the album even starts with a music box carillion theme. This is also for lack of a better word, more "mature" than Danger Danger. Yes, alot of songs are about women and women issues, but they don't go into all out comedic territory like say, Monkey Business or Naughty Naughty, or even more recently, Dirty Mind. There aren't any songs where they talk about their dicks or overt sexual innuendo.

Obviously comparisons will be made to the Paul Laine era of Danger Danger, so how does this album stack up? Very well actually. The vast majority of the songs are rockers, despite there being several song titles leading you to think this will be a ballad heavy affair. That's a bullet dodged there. One of the aspects that was a love it or hate it with Paul Laine was that he could do super old school melodic hair metal, or he could also do modern pop punky sounding type of vocals. Take a look at Dead Drunk Or Wasted from the live album, Live And Nude as an example. With The Defiants he gets a chance to utilize both sounds of his voice but there isn't as much "experimentation" with wacky songs like Six Million Dollar Man, Don't Pull The Plug, or Captain Bring Me Down. In fact, one of the best songs is the closer Underneath The Stars which sounds like it could have been in a soundtrack to a teen summer movie circa 2001.

Another very unique thing that sets this album apart is that the lyrical content is interesting for this type of seemingly upbeat music. Despite having a huge dose of energy in almost every single track, there is a sense of sadness that permeates this album. It's rooted so deeply that it's almost invisible, but it's there. There is a lot of reminiscing that goes on in this album. Lots of cruising down memory lane and thinking about when dreams were real. Now, I could be reading a bit too much into this but let's be a slightly obsessive fan and look at the band at this point. Their "main band" has only put out two studio releases in twenty years, Paul Laine was recently homeless and sleeping in his car for most of 2011, 2012, while playing shows just to fucking eat. Rob Marcello's living in Sweden doing Boss pedal and Hughes & Kettner amp demos, but he's not recording shit while having been in the band for over a decade at this point. He's a supremely awesome guitarist, but it's like his talents are going to waste and finally Bruno is busy doing producer work on everyone else's music out there but his. He's actually been successful but the point is, no one is probably really where they want to be in their middle age. And these are primo musicians not a bunch of chodes.

That complete speculation aside, musically this is a "typical" Bruno Ravel affair and by that I mean it it has crystalline production. Big beefy guitar riffs and booming bass come out hard AF, and Paul Laine's vocals are mixed just right. He must have at least been taking care of himself to some extent because his voice is still strong and powerful. He's the first thing you hear when he belts out the intro to Love And Bullets. This one is mid tempo, crunching, and Rob has tasty licks throughout. At first glance you probably would think Waiting On A Heartbreak is a Diane Warren ballad but thank the Candyman it's not. More like a pseudo ballad, this has lots of power chords and clean electric guitar arpeggios. Again, a winner. Runaway and Lil Miss Rock N Roll start the wistful nostalgia fest. Lil Miss Rock N Roll does the thing where they use a bunch of old song titles in the lyrics of the song however! These guys use classic rock songs like Born To Run and Jack And Diane and bands like Kiss, The Who and Foghat. Again, this reminds you these are middle aged dudes who are playing a form of music that ain't popular and they know it, but they do it anyways.

Because I came into Danger Danger (nothing sexual) by way of "side projects," it's not a huge shock to the senses that I enjoy this more than some of the main albums. There is a sense of realism that people similar to the age or life situations of the band will recognize. I really don't see a bunch of young folk getting into this album and blasting it while getting drunk. But this also isn't for the like of say, Steel Panther fans. If you're a slightly aging fuck, you'll find something that speaks to you in The Defiants debut. By the way, for the second album (which will get reviewed), they reinvented themselves into slick Yakuza guys or something with lots of Japanese kanji everywhere. But that doesn't detract from the authenticity I get from this release.

Killing Songs :
Love And Bullets, Runaway, Waiting On A Heartbreak, Underneath The Stars, Take Me Back
Ben quoted 87 / 100
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