Critical Defiance - The Search Won't Fall... (2024)Release ID: 50933

Critical Defiance - The Search Won't Fall... (2024) Cover
Daniel Daniel / April 07, 2024 / Comments 0 / 1

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 Critical Deception release 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.

Saxy S Saxy S / April 03, 2024 / Comments 1 / 1

Critical Defiance were a band back in 2022 that should have no shot at being as good as they turned out to be. I was starting to dig myself out of the pessimistic hole that I self-inflicted when it came to modern thrash metal, only for fellow Metal Academy alumni Ben and Sonny introduced me to the world of Chilean thrash. Critical Defiance have been the darlings of this geographical style ever since and knew before being selected to April's featured release for the Pit that I was going to have to give it some attention.

Now, I rarely keep up with the revolving door of band members anymore because heavy metal is known for having lineups that are as flimsy as the relationship between Israel and Palestine. But upon completing a first listening to The Search Won't Fall, I was practically forced to check out what lineup changes had been made since No Life Forms, since this record is drastically different from their previous output. This record is significantly more technical; more long songs, experimentation in styles with "All the Powers" tinkering towards grindcore, "Margarita" being the slow, calming interlude carried by a soaring melodic guitar solo, and "Bulldog" as another guitar solo instrumental, but closer to the bands original thrash sound before shedding your face off with the almost ten (10) minute closer "Critical Defiance". For me though, the biggest surprise was the drastic inclusion of black metal influence on "Long Distance (The What's to Come)" and occasionally appears throughout the rest of the album. Let's just say that I was less than surprised when I read that guitarist Nicolás Young and drummer Rodrigo Poblete were ex-members of Chilean tech-thrash outlet Demoniac.

And I'm not against experimentation in thrash metal. The opener and "Long Distance (The What's to Come)" are both solid experimental, tech-thrash tunes, but why does Critical Defiance have to go down that route? There are more than enough tech-thrash bands tinkering in the world of black metal (even within the Chilean thrash scene) that Critical Defiance could have won easy brownie points by just doing what they've always done; straightforward, no fat, meat and potatoes thrash metal. Instead, the compositional choices here make it sound like Critical Defiance want to be further embraced by the critic spaces instead of making fun, headbanging thrash metal.

Which makes it even harder when "44 Minds" comes on and reverts back to the quick and efficient thrash style of No Life Forms. And it stays like this until the closing track on the album. It's almost like Critical Defiance really wanted The Search Won't Fall to be a progressive/technical thrash masterpiece similar to Demoniac's most recent album, then remembered that they are in fact, not Demoniac, and had to re-direct the ship so that the remainder of the album had Critical Defiance's most integral compositional elements.

And it isn't like the extreme metal influence hasn't always been there in the sound. The production of The Search Won't Fall is muddy, typically embraced by a wall of reverb in the guitar riffage and Felipe Alvarado's harsh screams. They give the soundscape a sense of rawness that most American thrash/groove bands would not dare employ, even as they attempt to replicate Slayer's Reign in Blood for the forty-eight thousandth time. Songs like "44 Minds" and "Absolüt" have a roughness to them that is greatly appreciated. In fact, most of this album has a lack of pristine performance, which was a large part of thrash and punk music's appeal and took me down the path of appreciating Chilean thrash metal as much as I do.

As it stands, I really wanted to enjoy The Search Won't Fall by Critical Defiance. And if you take this album at face value, then you'll find a lot of things to enjoy here. However, Critical Defiance are losing some of what made Critical Defiance such a great project in the first place. They served as a break and dumb fun from the tech-trash/quasi-black metal sound that has become widespread in Chilean thrash metal. But now it seems like they are becoming one with the meta.

Best Songs: Long Distance (The What's to Come), The Search Won't Fall, 44 Minds, Bulldog, Absolüt

Sonny Sonny / April 02, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

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.


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The Search Won't Fall...
The Pit
Thrash Metal

Thrash Metal (conventional)

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Technical Thrash Metal

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Critical Defiance chronology

Misconception (2019)
No Life Forms (2022)
The Search Won't Fall... (2024)