Defender – A Symbol of Devotion 1989 – 73%

Defender is this underground German Thrash/Speed band who I know absolutely nothing about. It’s obvious they have no respect for 80s rockers Europe, as the “Intro” is simply an out of tune rendition of the synth part from “The Final Countdown.” “Senseless Discriminations” kicks in with a fucking SHARP guitar tone. I mean like a fucking laser. The guitar tone is so sharp in fact, that it actually seems to radiate a little fuzz through the speakers. Then one of the highest falsetto screams I’ve ever heard rages, “ATTAAAAAAAAAACK!!!!” Fast vocals are the key here, as they go with the riffs very will. A nice bass fill shows up going over the drums and gives off a slight mischievous feel. We have fairly simple chording here, but it’s used quite well. The alternate picking is about as fast as you’re going to get. Being from Germany, you can sense a bit of Kreator influence in the riffs, which is no problem for me. It’s not flat out Kreator worship, and it gets better. Unfortunately, the solos are a little buried in the murky production. The double bass work on this album is superb. It’s not overdone to a point of exhaustion, but is instead reserved for some drum fills and the final verse, on to the outro.

The double bass absolutely fucking rips on “Bright Glare,” which then transforms into a melodic slow part with these high-pitched vocals again. You can’t really hear any sort of German accent on Dirk Bender (which is a fucking nerdy name, by the way). This man has pipes though.

The song lengths are all pretty short, with only one surpassing the 4 minute mark, and that works in the band’s favor. This is a band who know how to do short energetic songs, and they do them very well. But what do you expect? You’ve known from the “Intro” through “Senseless Discriminations” that this band is all about being over the fucking top.

“Ghostrider” has this awesome locomotive chug that morphs into “Angel of Death” worship, but halfway original. The drums seem to be at about the same speed as AoD, and the guitar riffs are more Kreator than Slayer. At about 1:25, a sped up variation on the “Seek and Destroy” riff comes up. Not a bad riff, and they throw enough spin on it to make it their own. I cannot stress enough how much fucking falsetto this guy uses. He has a normal singing voice which he uses for the basic duration of the choruses and verses, but whenever a thrash break shows up at the end of a vocal line, he lets loose making “Painkiller” seem like fucking Carnivore.

“Relentless Dominion” starts off with a sort of guitar part reminiscent of The Who or even AC/DC, in it’s style, not sound. This song is one of those instances where a very thrashy Motorhead vibe takes over, minus the vocals of course. Unfortunately, this song is the weakest of all on this album, as it doesn’t seem to remain fully consistent in the power it holds. It’s like they have some great riffs, but then they fuck it up by playing some mediocre ones. It’s still not that bad, as they change riffs up just about ever 10 seconds. It then ends just as quickly as it began, only with a slightly Melo-Death type riff, which was a bit surprising, but still well done.

Finally, the last song, which deserves it’s own paragraph. “N.Y.C.” starts off as a fairly promising Anthrax inspired crossover tune, but then takes a complete 180 once the vocals begin:

“Hey, when did DragonForce record this crappy EP in the 80s?”
“Oh dude they didn’t, it’s this band called Defender from Germany!”
“Holy fuck! A song that sounds exactly like DragonForce from the 80s?”

Yes, you read that correctly. From the blazing solos, to the complete fast riffage, to the lyrics about Warriors and all that shit. DragonForce before it’s inception.

One thing’s for sure: with all of these banshee screams and riffsets, you’re bound to never get bored while listening to this band. Pretty highly recommended, as this album is an absolute tribute to variation. Defender, I salute you for being an original band with an interesting EP.

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