Monday, 2 December 2013

Review; The Defiled - Daggers

Track Listing;

1. Sleeper
2. Unspoken
3. Saints And Sinners
4. As I Drown
5. Porcelain
6. New Approach
7. Fragments Of Hope
8. The Infected
9. The Mourning After
10. Five Minutes
11. No Place Like Home

The Defiled are one of the few UK Metalcore bands of recent years that have piqued my interest. Avoiding the typical Metalcore image of clip-on fringes and skinny jeans, they adopted a darker gothic look that seems to be more akin to Marilyn Manson than Architects. Their sound, on the other hand, is more original than bands like Escape The Fate; The integration of keyboards delivers a darkness and a different edge to the Metalcore formula, and the bands clever use of staccato guitar riffs makes them more instantly recognisable from the crowd. Their 2011 album 'Grave Times' brought them to the attention of fans and press alike. Combined with their chaotic live shows and near-constant touring efforts, which included appearances at Download, Sonisphere and Bloodstock, outlined them as a hungry, energetic, hardworking band with a lot of promise as a UK prospect on the Metal scene. Earlier this year, the band's second album was released. It is also their first after being signed to Nuclear Blast Records. A greatly anticipated release; there has been a high expectation for more Industrial tinged Metalcore anthems.

Buzzing to life with a cinematic-meets-electronic wild build up, the opening song 'Sleeper' kicks in with frontman and guitarist Stitch D's screams alongside a thrashy, straightforward riff. It isn't long before a steadier, pounding riff comes in, with some eerie keyboard work from The AvD. All the while, new drummer Needles makes his mark upon the overall fashion of the band. The chorus has all the jump up and down and sing-along appeal of the songs on 'Grave Times', and the breakdown that follows it is laced with more great atmospherics that define their sound so clearly. Lyrically, the dark, pseudo-disturbing themes are immediate, with Stitch D screaming "I am the sleeper trapped in the cell that haunts me", delivering us into the darkness.

The production used on this album is very bass-heavy, with the samples and atmospherics wrapped around the overall sound of the guitars and drums. The vocals take the back seat somewhat. They're still there to make out and are completely intelligible, but I can't help but feel that (upon first listen) this could take away from the impact of the band's brilliantly crafted choruses, such as the one on 'Unspoken'; an absolute gem of a song that would get any crowd started, whether on a headline tour, or an opening slot of a festival morning. The riffs in the song are just downright delicious, too. After a few listens, the slight niggle with the production is forgivable, you get used to it I'd say. It's an interesting approach from Jason Suecof, to make the Industrial element of this band the focal point, and it does assist the band in showcasing how different their music is from general Metalcore.

'Saints And Sinners' opens in such a way that you could mistake it for a Fear Factory song. The incredibly fast drumming shown also supports this. Here The Defiled show that they can put their Metal chops to the grind as well as any other young band, if not better. The vocals are on point, with the screams sounding as solid and energetic in their execution as we've come to expect from witnessing the band live. The AvD turns up the creepiness level on his contributions with distorted spoken samples and a tolling bell after the breakdown. His backing vocals are well placed and compliment Stitch D's, especially the deeper growls alongside the frontman's higher screams.

'As I Drown' sees the band reach out to the disenfranchised youth. The singing melodies do run the risk of sounding a bit like Bullet For My Valentine in places, but the heavier nature of the music behind the vocals as well as the aforementioned Industrial edge saves it, and the band don't lose their identity, while also managing to deliver a solid track. Any influence that The Defiled may have taken from Marilyn Manson's classic works is worn on their collective sleeve during 'Porcelain', with it's jarring, weirdly catchy introduction and verse sections, even the vocal delivery has smatterings of the God of Fuck. However, another one of those trademark choruses lies in wait, just as catchy as anything else they've written. The track brings that sense of the macabre, as well as another Thrash riff right at the end. Great stuff.

'New Approach' is probably one song on 'Daggers' that could've easily been on 'Grave Times'. It has the huge chorus and frantic verse formula and shows the hunger for success that this band shows to their credit. It also sees some of Stitch D's best screams, as well as continuing to show that the rhythm section of Needles and impressive bassist Vincent Hyde is an effective machine keeping the rest of the music grounded. 'Fragments Of Hope' is maybe a weaker point on the album, but it features a rhythmic beating in the second verse that catches the ear well. The breakdown, while fairly basic, is arguably the most brutal the band has written yet. A tasteful use of leads is also shown by Aaron Curse.

'The Infected' again shows The Defiled's strengths, and in terms of the lyrical theme, reminds me a little of the song 'Black Death' from 'Grave Times'. It's also one song where the guitars and vocals get a bit more room to breathe in the mix, mainly because the keyboards used have a slightly subtler feel to them, except from during the breakdown and the outro where the sounds used have an almost Nu Metal vibe to them. The bass loses none of it's punch though. In fact, this stands as my favourite song on the album. 'The Mourning After' sees the high screams kick out at full throttle, and the pre-chorus has an eerie quality on the vocal side. The song does have a few moments where it risks slipping into that Bullet For My Valentine territory again, perhaps due to the singing voices of Stitch D and Matt Tuck being a little similar maybe.

Perhaps the interesting point on 'Daggers' is the song 'Five Minutes', which starts simply with an acoustic guitar and some crackling samples, before Stitch D's singing presents a more vulnerable side of this band. An unexpected song to be sure, and it would be as likely to enthral some as alienate others momentarily. The harmonisation of the vocals in the chorus is done well, and the frontman shows that his singing voice has a more impressive range than some may have thought prior to this. A ballad is not what I would have expected from The Defiled, but it's refreshing to hear them step out of their familiar zone.

'No Place Like Home' comes in to close the album and does it well, with a return to the tour de force sound that the previous song interrupted. It's another song that mimics the formidable feel of their debut. The breakdown riffs are once again colossal, and the scream of "Fall to your knees and pray for forgiveness' is such a good hook it's just unfair. The album fades out with quite a triumphant feel, and rightly so. The debut record 'Grave Times' may have had a few unforgettable bangers, the truth is that there are some songs that, on record, weren't as strong. You could even call them fillers. The thing with 'Daggers' is; while some songs take a couple of listens, they are all great songs. There is no filler here, just quality songs. In that respect, I'd argue that The Defiled have surpassed their previous efforts, though those looking for their gratuitous instant-hits may debate that fact.

Rating: 8/10

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