Review by Saxy S for Critical Defiance - The Search Won't Fall... (2024) Review by Saxy S for Critical Defiance - The Search Won't Fall... (2024)

Saxy S Saxy S / April 03, 2024 / 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

Comments (1)

Daniel Daniel / April 05, 2024

In fairness, Rodrigo Poblete has been with Critical Defiance since 2018.