Review: “The Search Won’t Fall…” by Critical Defiance

Back in 2021 just prior to the completion of their last album “No Life Forms“ Chilean Thrash collective Critical Defiance announced the addition of a second guitarist in Mauricio Toledo aka Wilhellm Winter of Unholyness fame to their ranks. While nothing was thought of that at the time, the band now cite that as an influence on their third album “The Search Won’t Fall…”. Pushing into a Blackened direction, they promise tremolo riffing, blast beats and a distinctly new melodic sensibility with their latest burnt offering, one that sees them celebrating 14 years of aggression with themes of war, humanity, tyranny and social criticism…

Opening with a magnum opus of a title track that approaches the eight minute mark for the first time since “Onset” from 2019’s “Misconception“, it is clear that Critical Defiance have put time and energy into their atmospherics with a flamenco introduction that then bursts into an adrenaline rush of Thrash on this one. Sounding very much like it was recorded in 1982 with a primitive nostalgic quality, the axe attack is in full force with a rampage through classic riffs that sound like an early Slayer demo. Longer instrumental passages are fuel for the mosh pit with slick leads and a scorching solo in the final third the audio equivalent of the torch on the Crème Brulé. Gang chants are essential and vocalist Felipe Alvarado leads the charge across these tracks with a middle finger in the air and the bark of a rabid dog. There are early Megadeth vibes in the riff department of “Long Distance (The What’s To Come)” which is the kind of cut that would have made the soundtrack to the classic 90’s video game Rock n’ Roll Racing… until the half way point that is when things take a violent twist. Transitioning from classic Speed Thrash into Blackened Speed Metal territory with blast beats from Rodrigo Poblete and some vicious vocals for a lethal mid section is a move totally unexpected but one that works incredibly well. The track fades to an intertwined combination of the two sounds but by then the mind is well and truly blown with blood and guts all over the floor.

Two tracks deep the record has already offered more twists and turns than a page turning dime store psychological thriller novel and “Helpless World” is no different. A blistering riff fest from calloused hands it leaves fretboards smouldering with the flamboyant nature of the leads and soloing as Alvarado and Toledo go toe to toe to see who can come up with the moment that inflicts the most damage on the ear drums of the discerning listener. A breakneck speed delivery is exactly what the edge of the seat was made for and when they play this one live if they’re not using a click track it’s going to get messy… A schizophrenics dream in split personality “44 Minds” is a tornado of souls of unstoppable proportions. A tour de force of Speed Thrash for lovers of whammy bar action, it finds the bass from Ignacio Arévalo more prominent in the mix and gives us the kind of intensity that is often missing from the so called big six these days. If you enjoyed the earlier flamenco guitar work then you’re in for a treat with “The Blind Divine“, an 67 second instrumental interlude that is nothing short of stunning. That paves the way for the ripper that is “Absolüt“, which finds the band somewhere between Metallica and Motorhead in their homage to old school riffs. A number that is the most fun you can have without losing a limb, it’s the soundtrack to a fight in a biker bar so expect to hear it on the next series of Sons Of Anarchy.

Nothing on this record can prepare you for 44 seconds of Grindcore but there is no better way to describe “All the Powers“, which is a short sharp system shock before “Full Paranoia” rattles up. An 85 second burst of blast beats and bullet belts with a single verse, this one feels like the band have thrown their shotgun cartridges in the fire and run like hell. Both violent delights and totally unexpected, they’re followed by the melodic instrumental that is “Margarita” by which point it’s as if the album has descended into bedlam. Not that there is anything wrong with the songs themselves, it’s just that somehow Critical Defiance have fallen into a pit of creative ideas that don’t necessarily sit well together. It’s like you’re listening to a collection of random demos as they experiment with different sounds rather than anything else and the same can be said of “Bulldog“. The ideas are very much on point with some killer riffs but compared with the first four cuts, they sound incomplete. A nine minute magnum opus has never been part of the repertoire of Critical Defiance so to find them naming a song after the band and going out all guns blazing is intriguing to say the least. It’s very much a case of back to the front in terms of quality to finish the album on a high. All in all “The Search Won’t Fall…” wont’ let you down, however there is fat that could be trimmed to make for a leaner, meaner offering [7.5/10]

Track Listing

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

The Search Won’t Fall…” by Critical Defiance is out 22nd March 2024 via Unspeakable Axe Records and Dying Victims Productions

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