Bawling inventively in the face whilst being driven by a constant fury which simply exhausts and exhilarates the senses, II the new album from UK metallers Def-Con-One, is one of those riveting muscular scourges you just cannot get enough of. It is fair to say that the band employs well ingrained flavours and styles across its riotous body but with a flair and imagination which sets them and the release apart from most. It is a thrilling adventure which rarely leaves you wishing for more in any particular song and constantly has the emotions beaming broadly under the creative onslaught.
Hailing from Newcastle, the quartet of vocalist Davey Meikle, guitarist Johnny Hunter, bassist Steve Miller, and drummer Antton Lant (ex- Venom and Mpire Of Evil and the brother of Venom frontman Conrad Lant) brew up a sound which merges thrash and groove metal to name just two of their rich spices, into a maelstrom of ferocious enterprise and fierce imagination. II follows the critically acclaimed Warface of 2012, a release which thrust the band into a certain hungry spotlight not found by the band’s 2008 self-released Blood Soaks the Floor, a release which has been seemingly passed over with II described as the bands second full-length. The new provocation reinforces the success of its predecessor whilst unleashing a greater maturity and invention to its striding predation. The band has been described by the organizers of renowned Bloodstock Open Air festival as ‘a bar fight between Machine Head, Slayer and Pantera’ and in many ways that still fits except that the inventiveness and tempest of styles driving the new album has increased and expanded to bounteous new depths.
The Scarlet Records, who the band signed with before Warface, released rage instantly unleashes its full strength and animosity the moment the first full breath of H8 Ball hits the ears. Jagged riffs and thumping rhythms are soon splintering cartilage in the opener, a djent savagery riling up the senses whilst the vocals of Meikle switch between clean rock and squalling antagonism in the midst of the continually evolving sonic rabidity. By the halfway point the song has teased thoughts with essences of American Head Charge, Alice In Chains, and Meshuggah, though all merely loud winds in a storm all Def-Con-One. It is a scintillating beginning to the album which immediately slams it up another gear with Broke. An unavoidable Pantera comparison wraps the opening seconds of the song remaining across the whole of its mouthwatering stretch, grooves and rhythmic battering as contagious and magnetic as the expressive vocals and sinew parading riffs equally inciting the juices. As the track, like many on the album, rummages in thoughts and emotions you do feel you know the provocation before it spreads each moment of its narrative but are left satisfaction drenched as everything comes in a uniquely different guise to any waiting expectation.
The following Soul Possessed is the next on the continuing ascent of the release, its opening melodic caress aligned to clean vocals an appealing but deceptive invitation refusing to hint at the ferocious tsunami of imagination and intensity to follow. The invention of the song comes with an electrified voracity, it’s twisting through straight on corrosive metal into nu and groove lit thrash vivacity irresistible. The track throughout its inventive carnage never settles into more than a few moments of any one direction resulting in a persistently intriguing rampage with imaginative flexibility in its sound and stylish enterprise.
Both Scarred For Life and Debt To Society were destined to slip below the new plateau set by the previous song but only just miss its lip with the first a breath-taking adrenaline fired torrent of thrash and heavy metal whilst its successor wires veins of southern metal into a ravenous brawl of groove fed heavy metal . The pair feed the already greedy hunger for the album with a full meal of craft and aggressive passion whilst the next up Skinhead Shaped Dent swerves and seduces the listener with a caustic fire of grunge inspired punk aligned to a commanding web of rapacious grooves to raise the stakes. At this point the album can and does no wrong, and whilst that familiarity to other things is never far away it only enlivens the irresistible toxicity of the band’s enterprise.
The pair of Need A Reason and Die Again provide the first undulation in the course of the release, the first an intoxicating ear devouring stomp of contagious and at times venomously sonic rabidity whilst the second is a slow meandering slice of classically spawned metal which fails to rise to previous heights. It is to be honest a well-crafted and satisfying piece of songwriting but just does not ferment in the imagination and passions anywhere like the potency of the previous songs. That slight dip though is soon addressed by Damned Disgrace where the already carnivorous bass sound of Miller is at its most primal, and the closing Drag Me To Hell, a rhythmic agitation of pure infection and bestial riffery which leaves the senses sore and blissful. The final track concludes the album as impressively as it started; a lingering last intrusive splinter of ravaging to ignite the passions.
To be over critical you could accuse II of not being unique enough in many ways to other bands, though there are few fusing as many facets of metal as inventively and successfully as Def-Con-One does. The truth is that when the album emerges as one of the most enjoyable favourites so far this year, certainly for us, giving the strongest fattest satisfaction, who really cares?
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