"Old Scars, New Wounds"

By Colonel Angus

I had the pleasure of reviewing” Birth And The Burial” by Act of Defiance a little more than two years ago.  Since that time, I have listened to that disk countless times and caught them live.  While I really enjoyed that record, the music was even more brutal live so I was really looking forward to hearing this new album.  Upon first listen, this new disk seems to have caught the energy of their live shows and channeled it into 11 heavy songs.  While I normally don’t always like brutally heavy music just for the sake of being brutally heavy, Act of Defiance seem to have taken the best aspects of the genre and injected some melody and catchy riffs to make this another enjoyable experience.  Henry Derek puts in a great vocal performance throughout switching from guttural screaming to straight ahead vocals; sometimes within the same tune.  Just grab a listen to “Circle of Ashes” and “Broken Dialect” as two examples of his vocal abilities.  What I like most is that if he stuck with just one vocal style, the songs wouldn’t have the same impact and as a whole record, it would sound very one-dimensional.  Now, as good as the vocals are, the guitar work by Chris Broderick is awesome.  I always felt that he was not given the room to shine in Megadeth and these two Act of Defiance records prove that he can come up with some great riffs that stand up with the best of ‘em.  “Lullaby of Vengeance”, “Overexposure”, and “Conspiracy of the Gods” show his ability to thrash out but still inject a cool groove to the song.  Even thought “Old Scars, New Wounds” is full of great tunes, those three really stand out as examples of his fierce playing. 

The album also benefits from some good pacing.  What I mean by that is, there are some really brutally heavy tunes (“Molten Core” and “Another Killing Spree”) that are split up between tracks that have more groove which gives the disk a bit more variety while still having one cohesive sound.  Also, “The Talisman” is stuck in there and that track alone has quite a few different elements and while only clocking in at around 6:00 minutes, it has a prog feel.  It starts off slow with acoustic guitars but builds into a heavy tune that later morphs into some thrash before ending with some heavy dirge-like riffs.  Then it all ends where it started with acoustic guitar.  Each time I listen to “Old Scars, New Wounds” I seem to have a different favorite track but as I write this, I would have to choose “The Talisman”.  But that is the sign of a great record, having a new favorite track each time you listen it.

Even though I haven’t mentioned Shawn Drover or Matt Bachand previously in the review, I need to mention that both of them put in great performances and create a solid rhythm section that seems to moves effortlessly from thrash to slower heavy, all the while keeping that catchy groove throughout the song.  As a band these guys have created a really tight sound that improved upon their first record.  As I mentioned earlier, these guys are first and foremost, a brutal live act but on “Old Scars, New Wounds”, they’ve managed to capture some that energy in the studio.