He’s something of a quiet achiever, is vocalist Paul Laine… You don’t see his name around much, but every time he does pop his head above the parapet you can be sure he’s gonna be involved in something worth hearing. And this second album from The Defiants – essentially Danger Danger in disguise – is definitely worth hearing.
Rock-solid AOR and melodic rock is the order of the day here, with the occasional flash of eighties metal pushing the excitement meters into the red every now and then, usually when guitarist Rob Marcello launches into one of his always-air-guitar-worthy excursions up and down the fretboard.
Hollywood In Headlights and Fallin’ For You form a ten-and-a-half-minute masterclass in luxuriant hard rock early on in the piece; the former sounding like something Bon Jovi might have been involved with in their pomp, the latter a quite superb piece of timeless radio rock. Likewise the single U X’D My Heart carries with it an absolute air of timelessness; the clean-picked intro from Marcello, the explosion of chugging rhythm guitar, Steve West’s rock solid drumming, the triumphant lead in to the chorus that causes the hairs on the back of the neck to rise in anticipation… sure you’ve heard it all before, but rarely done this well this decade – of that I can fully assure you!
It Goes Fast is very modern sounding, which isn’t necessarily bad but does sort of break up the feel of the record. Imagine Brit AOR kings Vega in top form and you’re in the right areas, as they say on the Cricket on TV. Stay, on the other hand, is pure melodic rock classicism in every way, and then some. Marcello outdoes himself, as does Laine, and Bruno Ravel’s booming bass roams all over the gaps in the sound in rampant fashion. It’s life affirming stuff, and if the final brace of tracks, Alive and Drink Up! don’t quite live up to Stay’s standard they still manage to round out the album well enough to leave you wanting to go straight back to the start and do it all over again.
Zokusho is out now.