Absolva – ‘Defiance’ (Rocksector Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Marc Leach   
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 04:00

Absolva artworkThe year is 2013, I walk into the Limelight 2 in Belfast, ready to photograph the legendary Iced Earth during their Dystopia tour. A then relatively unknown British band named Absolva (featuring members from Fury UK) are opening for the titans during that tour, supporting their debut album, ‘Flames Of Justice.’ Four years later and this reviewer still considers that album one of his favourite albums of all time, so you can imagine my excitement when their fourth and latest release ‘Defiance’ made its way over to my inbox.


While the band’s name may be unknown to some, their members aren't as the band is made up of members who currently play for Iced Earth and Blaze Bayley’s live band; so already you can tell this record is going to be an all-out metal extravaganza.


The album’s opener ‘Life On The Edge’ introduces the listener to the sharp yet tasty guitar riffs from the brothers of Chris and Luke Appleton, all while keeping the chorus sounding catchy through Chris’ venomous vocals. The band are, of course, very talented when it comes to their instruments, but they have always made sure they sound large and operatic, which is made evident through positive and inspiring ‘Rise Again,’ a track which will help anyone rise above the bull that brings them down. ‘Fistful Of Hate,’ and ‘Never Be The Same’ echo the likes of Iron Maiden through the use of bassist Karl Schramm’s Steve Harris style gallop during the intro of ‘Fistful…’, plus the collection of harmonising riffs from Chris and Luke throughout, but of course it is Chris’ guitar wankery during ‘Never…’ that will leave any guitar nut salivating.


Everything slows down for the beautiful ‘Connections’ as the boys bust out their acoustics for this clean piece but it is here where Chris’ vocal work truly shines. Though his voice still remains gritty, it helps add an extra dimension to this piece - plus they throw in a dual acoustic guitar harmony for good measure. The third quarter of the album takes a darker turn during ‘Midnight Screams’ and ‘Eclipse’, and while it’s the minor chords that help this, it is here where drummer and long standing member Martin McNee’s thunderous fills will just shake the ground around the listener. The atmospheric ‘Reflection’ brings this album to a close as the band take time to pay tribute to Wizz Beauprez (aka Wizz Wizzard) who passed away in December 2016 from cancer: this was a song Luke and Wizz previously performed together acoustically but this ‘metal’ rendition has Luke and Chris share the vocals as they remember their lost friend.



But wait, good listener, for I am not done yet! This album is actually split up into two CDs, with the first being the new material and the second being a collection of live and acoustic material (plus the track ‘Harsh Reality’). The live tracks were recorded during their performance at the Huskvarna Rock and Art Festival, Sweden in 2016, with ‘Hundred Years’ and ‘Code Red’ sounding like the strongest tracks from the show, plus a lethal drum solo from McNee. When it comes to the acoustic tracks it is one song each from their previous albums; it sure is interesting hearing large songs like ‘It Is What It Is’ and ‘Never Back Down’ acoustic, but once again Chris shows off his powerful vocal range.


Of course I have had to remain unbiased throughout this album, but Absolva still prove why they are a dominant force to reckoned with within the British heavy metal scene. From the sensational guitar work to the powerful vocal work all round, plus the outstanding production, this is certainly an album to listen to over and over again.


Defiance is out now. You can get your copy HERE.


Absolva bring their ‘Defiance’ tour home to Manchester when they play Sound Control on Saturday 9 December.




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