Metal super group Wreck-Defy is scheduled to release its latest album Friday. The band’s third in as many years, Powers That Be is 50 minutes of full thrash/speed enjoyment. The 10 songs that make up the record’s body will appeal to fans of the noted genre across the board. That should come as no surprise, considering that the band’s members — Matt Hanchuck, Aaron Dandall (ex-Annihilator), Greg Christian (ex-Testamant), Alex Marquez (ex-Malevolent Creation) – all came from thrash acts before forming this band. This latest offering from the band is everything that audiences have come to expect from the band, too. That is proven in part through the record’s arrangements, which will be addressed shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical arrangements are intense in their own right, and ensure just as much, listeners’ engagement. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and brings everything full circle. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Powers That Be. All things considered, the album proves to be an easy candidate in its own right for any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Powers That Be, the third full-length studio recording from metal super group Wreck-Defy, is a work that transcends generations of thrash and speed metal fans. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question are everything that audiences have come to expect from Wreck-Defy over the course of its past two albums. The arrangements featured here have all of the sound and fury of the compositions featured in those albums – Remnants of Pain and Fragments of Anger – without just rehashing them. The band does attempt to give listeners something at least slightly new. The most notable change here is that the band cuts back on the introspective material. Whereas Remnants of Pain had three songs of that ilk (out of nine songs), this record cuts that number to just one. It comes in the record’s finale, in the form of the very brief ‘On The Other Side.’ The rest of the album keeps the energy relatively high, much as in the band’s 2017 debut Fragments of Anger. Its placement is a bit odd. It will be addressed later. That aside, the stylistic approach that the band takes to this record’s arrangements gives listeners a familiar approach and sound without just simply rehashing the band’s past compositions. To that end, the arrangements serve as a solid starting point for this record. The album’s lyrical content builds on the foundation formed by the musical arrangements and make the album that much more appealing for any thrash and speed metal purist.
The lyrical content that is featured in Powers That Be are important to examine in the bigger picture of the album because they play so directly into the album’s title. Case in point is the lyrical theme of ‘Skin,’ which comes early in the album’s run. Randall sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I was born in a gutter/Holes in my shoes/Beat down and ridiculed/I was born to lose/“Just a punk assed white boy”/Was my pseudonym/Victim of circumstance/Due to the color of my skin /Black or white/We all bleed red/The essence of a man comes from within/Divide and conquer/The government/wants to separate based on the color of our skin/Ghettos are the same/No matter where you are/Filthy run down slums/you can see them from afar./Cultivating killers/Politically unjust/Segregate the people by the color of their skin.” He continues, “All this pain and suffering/Inside the human zoo/Political manipulation
Through and through/They’re building up the wall/They wanna watch us fall/in line” The chorus’ refrain puts the accent to the song’s message as Randall sings, “Just a punk assed white boy/I’m from the streets/Even I can see we’re heading for defeat/Cultivating killers/Armed to the teeth/Divided we stand, divided we’re weak.” This is, plain and simple, a commentary about how divided the world (and especially America) has become in the current era. It sticks right to the record’s title with its content. it is just one of the songs that runs along the line of the album’s title. ‘Freedomless Speech’ also addresses the powers that be.
‘Freedomless Speech’ is a direct indictment of those powers that be and how they have eroded free speech of people the world over. This is made clear right from the song’s lead verse and chorus as Randall sings, “Your 1st amendment’s out the door/Your right to speak is a right no more/Censorship for the sheep today/Another flock is led astray/An uncertain future/A constant plight/As time goes on You lose the right/No free thinking/No voice of your own/Reverting back to the age of stone/Helpless and hopeless/Utopia has vanished/When genocide and death no longer seem outlandish/The tides have turned/Hate and division’s what they teach/The lore of Freedomless Speech.” The song’s second verse adds to the statement, as Randall sings, “Communication a thing of the past/Demonization to speak a criminal act/Politically correct /A meaningless term/History repeats/We never learn/Archaic Government with plans to silence us/Disarm the populace so they don’t kick up a fuss/Put your faith in us…./Speak only if you’re spoken to/Shut you’re mouth and listen/This is the arm of the Government/Whistle blower/Nothing lower/Got no right to full disclosure/In the eyes of the Government.” The noted erosion of freedom of speech is increasingly happening, too. Just this week, another social media outlet announced that it will start removing negative comments from its feeds, thus eroding freedom of speech even more. This makes the song that much more important in the bigger picture of Powers That Be since even those who run social media can be considered powers that be. It’s just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves pivotal to the record’s presentation. ‘Drowning in Darkness’ is another example of how the album’s lyrical themes follow the theme presented in the record’s title.
In the case of ‘Drowning in Darkness,’ the power that is, is drug addiction. This is inferred as Randall sings in the song’s lead verse, “In this street of broken dreams/A million faces/I have barely seen the light of day/In this trap of my depression/I sleep the day away/Somehow I put on a smiling face.” It is made even more clear in the song’s second verse, which states, “Grab the bottle, take the pills/Snort that line, get your fill/God is watching, God is the/Do enough, set me free/Me and my little creatures/We’ve formed a bond, I’d say/We live in sickness, that’s ok/Living down here on the frontlines/They’re all my friends they say/Turn my back and I turn in to pray.” The final statement, which is short leaves no doubt about that vile power that is. It states, “Medic/Start the car/911 CPR/Fentanyl/F 19/ ICD/T36.” We all know the stories about the impact of fentanyl as has been addressed in the news. To that end, it becomes clear that this song is approaching the topic of drug abuse as a power in its own right. It takes a different path from the album’s other songs, but still is important in its own right. When it is considered along with the other topics discussed here and the rest of the album’s works, the overarching theme of the powers that be develops more impact. When that overarching lyrical content is considered alongside the record’s equally powerful musical arrangements, the whole of that content more than makes this record worth hearing. They are collectively just one part of what makes the record so appealing, too. Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
As has already been noted here, the music featured throughout the course of Powers That Be is largely intense. It is fiery and full of energy from one song to the next, ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment. The only concern that the sequencing raises comes in the record’s finale, the brief ‘On The Other Side.’ As short as the song is, and considering that it comes across as a eulogy of sorts, it might have been better served to be in another spot higher up in the record’s body. By having it close out the album, it makes for such an abrupt finale for the record, especially considering the fiery energy of ‘I Am The Wolf.’ The change of pace as that song ends and ‘On The Other Side’ is just uncomfortable, considering their placement. Had ‘On The Other Side’ been placed more as a mid-record presentation to break up the album’s energy, it would have worked much better and made the sequencing solid. Even despite that concern, the sequencing still works for the most part. Keeping that in mind, it still works well with the overall content and maintains the album’s place among this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.
Wreck-Defy’s new album Powers That Be is a powerful new offering from the thrash/speed metal super group. That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements present the band trying noticeably, to avoid the more introspective, reserved songs that were more prominent in the band’s second album. This time out, the band clearly kept the energy much higher, as in its debut album. The lyrical content that accompanies the arrangements exhibits its own impact in that the themes follow the record’s overarching theme noted in its title. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. Save for the one concern raised by the record’s finale, the sequencing keeps the record’s energy high from start through to that more reserved finale. Even with the noted concern centered on the finale raised, the sequencing still works. Together with the record’s musical and lyrical content, all three elements join to make the album in whole, a work that continues the success of the band’s first two records. Additionally, it collectively makes the album a work that will appeal to the most devoted thrash and speed metal purist.
More information on Wreck-Defy’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like “it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.