Wreck-Defy – Powers That Be (Punishment 18 Records)

Thursday, 10th December 2020
Rating: 9/10

Featuring ex-members of Annihilator and Testament in their ranks, Canadian thrash act Wreck-Defy are a speedy band when it comes to releasing material. Powers That Be is the group’s third full-length in four years – proving that if you have the fire, drive, and spirit, you can release material consistently even in the modern age. Much like 2019’s strong Remnants of Pain offering, these ten tracks continue to serve up a killer mixture of Bay Area influences with some NWOBHM gallops and twists that prove these musicians know their way around the genre and push the melody, hook, and technical aspects up when necessary to get their ideas across.

The thick rhythm choices and fluid, extended lead breaks from guitarist Matt Hanchuck are cut from a Metal Church, Megadeth, and Heathen-like cloth – injecting a bit of domestic attitude and reverence on standout tracks like the galloping “Skin” and head slamming “Freedomless Speech”. When you have Greg Christian on the bass, it’s obvious to give him space to pump up his progressive traits while hammering home the bottom end proceedings, which you will get right away on the opening anthem “Beyond H8” that also features a couple of expletive-laced movie sequences and forceful, menacing melodies out of Aaron Randall. During other songs Wreck-Defy explore more of their melodic side, taking down the accelerator a bit and showcasing their power/traditional metal affinity. “Drowning in Darkness” and “Scumlord” especially work in this context, the latter intertwining some Pantera/Alice in Chains-like textures into the formula that still work in the songwriting context without ‘selling out’ the atmosphere or solid musicianship interplay from track to track. And it’s hard not to want to pogo about the room when hearing the ripping riffs and steady drumming with double kick versatility during “I Am the Wolf”, a 6:44 rollercoaster that could have been a long-lost Rust in Peace-era track with all the action taking place.

Most people when listening to Canadian thrash think of Sacrifice, Razor, and Exciter – but there are some bands who take the 80’s/90’s US template and twist things into their own being. Powers That Be is a great example of brilliant, energetic songwriting and outstanding performances by all the members, making Wreck-Defy one of those bands to really key in on if you want a little more intricacy and harmony/melody intertwined into the high gear metal on display here.

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