Featuring former Scar The Martyr frontman Henry Derek Bonner on vocals, Shadows Fall guitarist Matt Bachand on bass, plus former Megadeth members Shawn Drover (drums) and Chris Broderick (guitar), Los Angeles based super-group Act of Defiance return with the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Birth and the Burial (Metal Blade).
Unlike its predecessor, which had already been written prior to Bonner and Bachand joining the band, Old Scars, New Wounds (Metal Blade) is much more of a joint collaboration, with all four members contributing to the writing process, helping to create a more interesting and diverse record.
Sounding like Trivium trading blows with Arch Enemy and Testament, opener ‘MIA (Mis-Information Age)’ kicks things off in style; a topical song about the untrustworthiness of modern news platforms, which to absolutely no-one’s surprise, features some suitably ferocious Megadeth style shredding from Broderick. For anyone not yet convinced by Bonner’s voice, ‘Molten Core’ should quickly sort that little problem out. Featuring no clean vocals at all, this high octane thrasher is a totally different beast to the previous track, with Bonner confidently spitting out both low and higher pitched snarls and roars.
The In Flames style ‘Overexposure’ carries on the album’s good work, and is followed by the ‘The Talisman’ which after its acoustic intro, echoes a slow and brooding Metallica. ‘Lullaby of Vengeance’ and ‘Circle of Ashes’ are both crunchy slabs of Melodeath and Metalcore respectively. ‘Reborn’ is Testament worship to the point where you can even sing along to ‘Do Or Die’ at certain points, and ‘Conspiracy of the Gods’ is another stompingly good thrasher.
‘Another Killing Spree’ finds Broderick utilising Gojira‘s trademark pick scrape and Cannibal Corpse‘s low end trilling, ‘Broken Dialect’, a song similar in its lyrical theme to ‘MIA’, channels the likes of Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold, and closer ‘Rise of Rebellion’ ends the record on a high.
Produced by Dave Otero (Cattle Decapitation), Old Scars, New Wounds is a solid and expertly performed Metal record. Unfortunately, some of the lesser songs begin to feel a bit like a bland pizza base after a while, as they sit on the counter merely waiting for Broderick’s hot and spicy toppings to be sprinkled over them.