Album Review: Critical Defiance – The Search Won’t Fall…

Album Review: Critical Defiance - The Search Won't Fall...
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Whilst Brazil often gets the limelight for heavy metal, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Chile is just as prominent a South American nation for churning out quality bands. Formed in 2010 out of the city of Valparaiso, Critical Defiance have played the long game to guaranteeing a wide yet loyal fanbase. Releasing a few Demos and a Split throughout their early years, the band finally released their first full length work with 2019’s Misconception, a wondrous way to get their album discography started if you ask me. Three years on, they returned with their second album titled No Life Forms, and now, just two years later, we’re on the cusp of receiving album three: The Search Won’t Fall. Prepared for a March 22nd release date and their third album release on the bounce via Unspeakable Axe Records, I imagine many and more are excited to see what Critical Defiance have brought to the table this time round.

Critical Defiance are amongst the numerous thrash acts garnering attention right now and it’s in the mix here where one such reason can be found. The band are renowned for their no-nonsense style of attack whereby few elements outside thrash are implemented, yet during this album’s run through the bass guitar can be heard easily, permeating one corner of the record to the next all the while the band continuously hurl one ripping riff sequence after another at us. Not only does it give us an additional rung to cling to whilst the band swirl around us, but it provides the record with a solid foundation by which their songwriting can bounce to and fro. South American thrash is well regarded for its ballistic intensity so it’s good to see Critical Defiance hanging back on the throttle a touch to let the bass have it’s time in the sun. The overall aim of the record is made abundantly clear as these guys play, but it’s evident they’ve had more plans with this record than mere riffs alone.

With that said, Critical Defiance’s rise in popularity comes as no surprise considering the intensity their riff attacks assume. It isn’t anything new once you become affiliated with the Chilean extreme metal scene; bands of this community don’t hold back. But Critical Defiance really understand how to properly adapt a twin guitar attack within their songwriting to great effect. It not only installs an additional dosage of strength into their sound, but it allows for a more dynamic dance between the varying guitar attacks. Often you’ll be on the receiving end of the full brunt their guitarists can deliver, but there are also moments where one guitar will hold back and play a different piece whilst the other guitar continues the primary riff. In doing so, the interchanging guitars intensify the track they’re playing since something is being injected into the songwriting that flies in the face of expectation. But the twin guitar medley can also be utilised to create a more pronounced presence; “Long Distance (What’s To Come) is a particularly ruthless track but the main riff feels especially blackened and it’s in the fusion of two guitars at once that help emphasise this feeling.

Album Review: Critical Defiance – The Search Won’t Fall…

This notion curiously extends to the rest of the band too, whereby it appears they’ve wished to implement some heavier, more extreme ideas into their otherwise, typically thrash style. When you listen to the band play herein, you’ll recognise it’s ripping and isn’t looking to stick around. Yet, with that said, it does feel like the band have adopted one or two influences outside their usual circles which is why it oozes with blackened fervour now and again, or their onslaught feels all the more punishing akin to a death metal attitude. From one track to the next, the band barely stop or slow or allow time enough for us to catch our breath, for even when the songwriting is clearly changing for the next segment the band aren’t giving us any leeway to catch our breath and collect ourselves. That’s not to describe the record as suffocating or anything along those cacophonous vibes, The Search Won’t Fall is nicely pressured whereby you’ll feel the tempo they play at but it’s never crushing at any point. The record effectively screams at your face for its entire duration, so whether it’s the breakneck vocal performance or the multitude of drum fills they bless us with, there’s nary a time here where we’re left to our own devices.

In spite of the band’s familiarity with savagery, it’s good to note the acknowledgement of structure within this record. Halfway through the album, we’re given a brief interlude in the form of a pleasant acoustic piece titled “The Blind Divine”, arguably the one point in the whole record where can breathe in and out before diving straight back into the mire. Ensuring such an instrumental is included was vital, considering how the drums don’t stop for anything and therefore keep maintaining a truly frantic pace which we can’t help but be fully swayed by and swept up in. Interestingly, bass drums don’t play much into the drums’ pace but it’s in the Tom-tom drums where, taut and crisp their resonance has been given in the mix, their intensity is most felt; there are even moments where they approach blast beat territory before recoiling. The drums know just how much speed and energy they need to provide without them completely overtaking the rest of the band’s performance. Not only does the songwriting present a fast tempo but the unrelenting nature of the record, as we move from track to track, contributes to a breathless, rattling experience.

In conclusion, The Search Won’t Fall is another quality record by Critical Defiance. The band are only continuing to demonstrate their quality as Chile’s premiere thrash export. That said however, I feel like the back half of this album could have used some refinement; the songwriting, instrumentation etc is great and flies the flag for the band’s exemplary onslaught, only I found the last few tracks of this record to be really unfocused and without purpose. The last fifteen minutes of this record are all over the place with an instrumental, two pieces under two minutes long and then they end things out with a massive near-ten minute track. While the record on the whole is thoroughly recommended to all eager thrash fans, it needs saying I found the last few pieces to be quite rocky and feel out of place. That’s not because they didn’t belong, but rather because they could have been switched about here and there in the record’s track running to make for a more seamless experience. It’s only a minor gripe however, for Critical Defiance offer up one blistering performance here. With a third album under their belt, I’m more than curious to see where their career takes them.

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1 Comment

  1. I love the new album. Here is my preferred track list order:

    1. The Search Won`t Fall
    2. All The Powers
    3. Long Distance (The What’s to Come)
    4. The Blind Divine
    5. Absolüt
    6. Full Paranoia
    7. Margarita
    8. Helpless World
    9. 44 Minds
    10. Bulldog
    11. Critical Defiance

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