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THE DEFIANTS Zokusho

By George Mihalovich, Pure Rock Patroller
Thursday, October 24, 2019 @ 9:01 AM


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THE DEFIANTS
Zokusho

Frontiers Music




It's difficult to discuss THE DEFIANTS without acknowledging their strong connection to DANGER DANGER. In fact, "connection" might be an understatement. Without getting too deep into the details, bassist Bruno Ravel and drummer Steve West are founding members; vocalist Paul Laine was the front man for four records; and guitarist Rob Marcello has been in the band as a live guitarist for more than ten years and played lead on their last studio album.

Therefore, it's no surprise that THE DEFIANTS self-titled 2016 debut and their latest release, Zokusho (a Japanese word meaning "the sequel” or "the next chapter”) largely pick up where DANGER DANGER left off. Structured and memorable songs — check. Polished lead and background vocals — check. Pristine performances and production — check. The subject matter includes relationships ("Fallin' For You"); good times/glory days ("Hollywood In Headlights"); and of course, the occasional party (Drink Up!). Let's call it traditional rather than clichéd, as this disc pays homage to the musical ethos and zeitgeist of the style they helped to successfully champion in the late 80s/early 90s.

The songs and Paul Laine's vocals are clearly the focal point of Zokusho, but Rob Marcello also shines. His high-tech playing can be described as a modern interpretation of vintage Paul Gilbert and Vinnie Moore. It's more over-the-top that what is typical in this format, but he confidently and appropriately utilizes an amazing arsenal of modern guitar techniques within the context of the songs. Lest you think that the man is a one-trick pony, "Love is the Killer" (the lead track and a highlight of Zokusho) and the official video for "U X'D My Heart" feature tasteful clean guitar intros to offset his more aggressive fretwork.

The sum total of Zokusho is a modernized take on traditional AOR/melodic hard rock that doesn't sound dated or contrived. This record seems to have helped THE DEFIANTS step out of the shadow of DANGER DANGER to carve out their own niche and place themselves at the forefront of a seemingly reinvigorated genre.

4.2 Out Of 5.0


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