Act of Defiance – Birth And The Burial (Metal Blade)

Genre: Thrash Metal

After guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shaun Drover left Megadeth in 2014, attention has largely focused on their replacements (rumoured, hoped-for and eventual) – and how Dave Mustaine has handled this tumultuous chapter in his band’s life.

The formation of Act of Defiance – featuring Broderick, Drover, bassist Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall/Times Of Grace) and vocalist Henry Derek (Scar The Martyr) – has not exactly gone under the radar, but the fact that Lamb of God sticksman Chris Adler is now part of team ‘deth has garnered more headlines… as you might expect.

This new quartet, though, haven’t wasted any time in getting up and running, largely in the background, and by the sounds of Birth And The Burial they’re champing at the bit.

Their debut is slick, steel-plated contemporary thrash metal, played by men, not boys, and Broderick is in blistering form: Birth And The Burial is peppered with blazing solos and dextrous riffery, and he’s not held back.

Derek, meanwhile, is a powerful and versatile vocalist, adding extra aggression to the quickfire strains of The Lord Belial and carrying the more melodic title track with ease.

However, there’s a problem: say what you like about MegaDave, but he’s one hell of a songwriter, and while it inhabits a similar musical landscape to ‘deth albums like Endgame or Thirteen, Birth And The Burial lacks Mustaine’s sparkle. His former bandmates might have been better off changing direction, rather than ploughing a similar furrow to their last employer.

There are some fine songs on here – Obey The Fallen and Dead Stare most notably – but not enough to make this another Countdown To Extinction. Maybe next time. Richard Holmes

RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 First Act