Unsigned / Self-released
Words: Craig Hartranft
Born out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal by guitarist Andy Dick better than 35 years ago, Soldier returns with their third long player in the 21st century, Defiant. If you have some interest in more history of the band, check out my review of 2013's Dogs Of War. Spoiler alert: much of what was said then is referenced once more in this review.
Defiant may be an apt description of this album and Soldier's approach to heavy metal. Defying current and modern metal trends, the band eschews harshness and hardcore tendencies for the fundamental harmony, melody, and groove that formed the foundation of classic heavy metal. Once more, in the NWoBHM tradition, Soldier works with twin guitar harmonies, clean vocal arrangements, and defined melody in arrangements. Within these compositions, they will mix tempos, from moderate to more swift. The latter speed harkens to the early proto-power metal that evolved into it's own genre. Of course, the final addition, with the harmonic guitar lines, is an abundance of soaring guitar solos. Once more, as with the previous album, Soldier blurs the line between melodic hard rock and metal thanks to inherent rock groove in most songs, but also hooks in a catchy arrangement or lyrical refrain. You'll hear some of this within Fight Or Fall, Leaving, and more so in Dead Man's Curve. After these songs, other highlights include A Light To See The Darkness, a nice subdued metal anthem, Concrete Wilderness which offers a mixture of tempo changes, and Conquistador, also racing a times with some smooth guitar lines. Some songs fell flat like Bullet Belt Blues, which didn't sound bluesy at all, but more dense and sharp in its riffage.
Having said mostly fine things here, after a listen or three, my conclusion about Defiant differs a bit. While this is definitively a Soldier album in its sound, at times it felt dry, even labored, in its presentation. It's probably just my impression. Nevertheless, overall I did like the album, and if you liked the previous Dogs Of War, I'm sure you'll enjoy Defiant. Recommended.
Defying current and modern metal trends, Soldier brings their New Wave of British Heavy Metal roots and sound to their latest album Defiant. Recommended.
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