April 2024 - Feature Release - The Pit Edition

The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
First Post March 31, 2024 08:42 PM

Another month flies by, which means it's time to select a new feature release for The Pit. As it's my turn to choose, I've selected Critical Defiance's The Search Won't Fall..., which was just released last month. I've not given it enough listens to rate just yet, but it's clear that this album has a lot to offer. I figured it was a good opportunity to put it on everyone's radar.

It would be great to read what you all think of it either below or in review format.


April 01, 2024 08:59 AM

I was really looking forward to this one from one of the chilean scene's foremost newer bands and I've given it a few listens already with a view to working up a review. So far it has met expectations and provides plenty of the exhilaration I've come to expect from chilean thrash, so things are looking good. Nice choice, Ben.

April 02, 2024 02:15 PM

Critical Defiance are back with their third album in five years, looking to cement their position as one of the most kick-ass thrash bands in the world. Hailing from Valparaíso, they have been forged in the furnace of Chile's white hot thrash metal scene. This time around main man Felipe Alvarado has secured the services of guitarist Nicolás Young following his departure from Demoniac, joining fellow ex-Demoniac-er, drummer Rodrigo Poblete who has been a member of Critical Defiance since 2018 and has appeared on all of their albums to date.

The Search Won't Fall delivers on all the aspects of thrash metal we have come to expect from the chilean scene and Critical Defiance particularly. Hi-octane, thundering tempos and a blackened edge adding extra visciousness, along with technically tight performances and great production values equals energetic and thrilling thrash metal that destroys almost everything the genre has produced since it's heyday back in the 1980s. I guess there could be an argument that they are a bit over-the-top with their supercharged riffs, heightened aggression and searing soloing, but I think they keep a lid on it sufficiently that it never becomes self-indulgent or out of control, but rather comes over as an exuberant and glorious celebration of metal. The playing is phenomenal with Rodrigo Poblete's work behind the kit worthy of particular praise due to his powerful and busy style that, despite the crazy tempos he is sometimes asked to keep, never misses a beat. With three guitarists the riffs are incredibly strong and, despite the tempo, the guitarwork always remains distinct and razor-sharp, never losing focus or descending into blurry chaos as other, less skilled, thrash practitioners are wont to do.

Very few bands can pull off this level of aggression and sheer musical velocity within a thrash metal framework as successfully as these guys and I know I am starting to sound like a broken record in this respect, but the chilean thrash scene has rarely failed to deliver on quality over the last few years. Bands like Critical Defiance and Demoniac are at last seemingly receiving the credit they have long been due and no longer do they have to watch from the sidelines while lesser lights take all the accolades. Anyone who thinks thrash metal died off in the early nineties are missing out massively if they can't move beyond their old Slayer or Megadeth albums and start appreciating the young bucks from South America who are storming the barricades with a vigour and passion long thought lost to thrash metal practitioners the world over. If an album like The Search Won't Fall doesn't get you excited about thrash again, then I suggest that the problem is yours and not theirs. Me, I'm holding on for sheer life and going along for the ride.


April 05, 2024 02:25 AM

I really enjoyed No Life Forms when it was the featured release back in 2022. So much so that it ended up making my year end list. So I was super thrilled to hear what The Search Won't Fall had to offer.

And while the album is stylistically great, something about it just didn't feel right. Sonny's review brought forth to me that both the guitarist and drummer for this record are former members of blackened/tech-thrash bands Demoniac. And you can hear that influence spreading its way onto this album. But that has become a sound that is synonymous at this point with other Chilean thrash bands, such as Demoniac. My biggest concern with The Search Won't Fall was that the brain off, mosh till your neck falls off thrash metal that originally attracted me to Critical Defiance, was now being replaced with a sound that EVERY Chilean thrash metal band is using at the moment. It is not bad, in fact, it's probably the best blackened thrash I've heard in recent memory (except Malleus maybe), but it is not as memorable or unique as previous Critical Defiance releases.


April 07, 2024 02:53 AM

Here's my review:

Chilean thrash metallers Critical Defiance & I have enjoyed a very fruitful relationship over the last five years. In a scene that has largely maintained itself purely off the back of its distant heritage, these South Americans have managed to release a couple of records that have proven to been worthy of my interest in their own right, particularly 2022's "No Life Forms" sophomore album which I consider to be fairly essential for fans of the modern-day Chilean thrash scene. So, I think it's fair to say that I had high hopes for the brand new follow-up album "The Search Won't Fall..." which has predictably been receiving a fair amount of praise from the underground thus far. It hasn't disappointed either with Critical Defiance delivering yet another solid piece of thrash metal designed specifically for an audience that have been starved of high-quality material in recent times.

The production job that "The Search Won't Fall..." is built on is pretty decent but is perhaps a little too heavy on the mid-range frequencies & I think the album could have done with a little more highs as a result. The musicianship is top notch though with the five instrumentalists all proving themselves to be highly proficient in their chosen crafts. As with "No Life Forms", we once again see the unusual inclusion of a third guitarist, a differentiator that the band make good use of but probably won't be picked up by the band's less informed listeners. I really enjoy the shredding Slayer-esque guitar solos which are generally well timed with former Demoniac shredder Nicolás Young being a welcome addition to the band. The song structures feature a crap-tonne of changes too although I struggle to see any justification for the tech thrash claims that seem to be associated with the album as I honestly can't hear anything particularly technical here. Front man Felipe Alvarado's aggressive vocals are well-suited to this style of music but its drummer Rodrigo Poblete (also formerly of Demoniac) that's the clear highlight of the album with his powerful, precise & exciting contribution clearly indicating the role that Slayer's Dave Lombardo has played a clear role in his musical up-bringing.

Stylistically, there's a bit more to Critical Defiance than your run-of-the-mill 80's-worshipping thrash outfit these days. They tend to mix things up a bit by throwing in some well executed curve balls & also varying their track lengths & song structures fairly drastically. You'll no doubt notice that there are a few longer & more expansive pieces included than we found on "No Life Forms" with some progressive options having been explored. There are a couple of tracks that showcase a clear black metal component too (particularly the outstanding "Full Paranoia") while "Long Distance (The What's to Come)" & "Absolüt" are built as much on speed metal as they are on thrash. You can also expect to receive a classical guitar piece ("The Blind Divine"), a progressive rock instrumental ("Margarita") & a full-throttle grindcore number ("All The Powers") so you can hardly claim "The Search Won't Fall..." to be samey. There aren't any weak inclusions either so it's a very consistent affair from a highly competent & experienced artist.

"The Search Won't Fall..." really does pick up where "No Life Forms" left off. It's another very solid release from Critical Deception that will likely come into consideration for my end of year list & will no doubt be receiving return visits from me in the future too. I'd suggest ignoring the tech thrash claims & going into the record expecting more of a Kreator/Vio-lence brand of aggressive thrash only with a slightly more adventurous edge that sees them drawing upon a more diverse array of artists such as Hellripper & early Emperor for inspiration at times.