THE DEFIANTS – Zokusho [Japan Edition +1] (2019)
THE DEFIANTS are back with their second album, ‘Zokusho’, to be released by Frontiers Music this week, and just appeared in Japan with a bonus track. Comprised of Paul Laine, Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello, fans in the know will immediately recognise that these three fabulous musicians all have ties to popular hard rockers Danger Danger.
Comparing the new record to their debut, bassist Bruno Ravel states, “I think the ‘sound’ of the album, while similar to the debut, is a bit more focused. I also think that the songs, as a collection, are stronger.”
And I couldn’t agree more: here’s in front of you one of the best Melodic Hard Rock albums of the year.
It’s been four years since that wonderful debut which received rave reviews globally, capturing as it did that classic Danger Danger sound. This time round though it’s even bigger with D2 drummer Steve West appearing as a special guest….
So what do you get? – well first let’s set the record straight and say it’s essentially more of the same – but this time round maybe even bigger and better – with bigger choruses, bigger hooks and even mightier guitars and vocals.
‘Love is the Killer’ that opens things second time around you could argue is an even bigger song than ‘Love and Bullets’ was on the first record. It’s the sort of composition that underlines the magic these guys have captured.
If you crave the days when Rock was fun and a good time was had by all then this is your soundtrack.
‘Standing on the Edge’ bursts into life and keeps the party going with plenty of guitar and vocal swagger before ‘Hollywood In Headlights’ puts you completely at ease that this is going to be a killer album. The sweep to the chorus is wonderful as Laine sings of the one who got away.
‘Fallin’ For You’ then sweeps you completely off your feet with a trademark Danger Danger riff. Ravel explains that he “came up with the hook first, then mixed elements from 80s AOR, and tried to give them an updated, more aggressive approach. That’s what The Defiants do!
Then whilst you’re still savoring that highlight, ‘Hold On Tonite’ takes it down a notch and delivers the sugary sweet demi-ballad you’ve been waiting for. And Laine’s vocals – which are intact – simply shine here.
Upping the ante again ‘Allnighter’ brings the party tune; then it’s all delicate guitars to open the midtempo ‘U X’d My Heart (You Crossed my Heart)’ a song that sees Laine at his sublime best again, accented by some wonderful backing melodies.
And believe me the final run is just as cool as the opening shots: first the keyboard-dive ‘It Goes Fast’ picks you up in its gentle Eighties arms before ‘Stay’ drives you through the hot night air; and ‘Alive’ brings one of the album’s most compelling moments, lifting you up with its clean guitar work and poppy feel. It’s a modern sound and a gamble that works so well here. Sonically it’s light years better anything that latter day Bon Jovi are putting out these days.
Last call of the night goes to ‘Drink Up!’ an old school good time hard rocker that is simply made to be played live and loud. It will bring back that Danger Danger 1989 to you….
But wait, Japanese bonus track ‘Forever’ isn’t just an acoustic version or remix, but an original. An atmospheric slow tune based on synths, piano and elaborated harmony vocals. It’s different for the band, and something you need to hear.
Ravel / Laine Marcello nailed it again: the songwriting style of the late ’80s / early 90s like few did in recent times, and developed a sound which mixes the best of timeless melodic rock / AOR with modern atmospheres, always with a hook and a catchy chorus as main focus.
The result is simply one of the best Rock albums of the year, and I am not talking about melodic rock / AOR only.
King Records Japan ～ KICP-1975
Ｔ Ｈ Ｅ Ｄ Ｅ Ｆ Ｉ Ａ Ｎ Ｔ Ｓ 『 ザ・ディファイアンツ 』
01. Love Is The Killer
02. Standing On The Edge
03. Hollywood In Headlights
04. Fallin’ For You
05. Hold On Tonite
07. U X’d My Heart
08. It Goes Fast
11. Drink Up!
12. Forever (Japan Bonus Track)
Bruno Ravel – Bass
Paul Laine – Vocals, Guitar
Rob Marcello – Guitar
Steve West – Drums