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HMS Music Spotlight

From the ashes of their almost-simultaneous departure from MEGADETH, guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover waste little time in formulating a new plan. Fortifying the lineup with Shadow’s Fall guitarist Matt Bachand (on bass) and Scar The Martyr vocalist Henry Derek, Broderick and Drover set out to prove that they have their own ideas about how their metal is best represented. The result is their debut effort on the Metal Blade label, “Birth and The Burial”.

Considering the histories of all the members involved, it’s no surprise that shades of their current/recent/former bands will rear themselves…and as well they should. However, AOD appear to be conscious of making sure the sound they’re working to create doesn’t get overshadowed by too many tell-tale references of their past. The result (to these ears) is an admirable inaugural foray into decidedly thrash-heavy territory, seasoned with other sounds/influences which keep things fresh.

Their lead-off single, “Throwback” kicks things off with an almost keyboard-like guitar line that belies the thrash assault that follows. Henry Derek’s delivery when the verse kicks in suggests shades of Mille (Kreator) and Chuck (Testament) while retaining his own grip on the mic. The second track, “Legion Of Lies” comes out swinging with catchy riff not unlike one heard in Megadeth’s “Sleepwalker”. The static verse riff serves as a perfect backdrop for Henry to flex a bit of variety in his approach, from guttural to clean and even amalgamating both approaches in harmony; a nice touch that keeps your ears on their toes.

Another highlight is the dyed-in the-wool thrasher “Thy Lord Belial”. The riff gloriously takes its cues from classics of the genre past, complete with drum feel changes via Shawn Drover, which work to keep things moving and interesting. A pleasant surprise was Chris Broderick’s second solo here; a harkening back to his approach with Jag Panzer in the late 90’s/early 2000’s; this era of his playing is what I was first exposed to, and still love to this day. That he would consciously steer his playing to fit Megadeth’s needs during his tenure there is completely understandable. This particular solo is our first glimpse that he has no intention of abandoning that direction that first made fans take note.

As the album charges along, we are lured into a few corners of tranquility that serve as a hint of Broderick’s classical background/training and a brief pep talk before getting back in the ring. The first such instance is the beginning of “Refrain And Re-Fracture”. The nylon string guitar intro sets the mood with a series of delicately articulated yet foreboding arpeggios that are soon joined by a lead-toned melody. In a similar vein, “Poison Dream” is introduced with interplay between piano and violin, before a mid-tempo assault ensues. Matt Bachand’s bass break halfway through is the perfect touch to launch into the bridge, and ultimately Broderick’s sweeping solo (both literally and figuratively).

Act Of Defiance
Birth and the Burial
(Metal Blade)
Written by: Kelly Kereliuk
9 out of 10

Other highlights include “Dead Stare” and its Deth-esque riff and song structure, interspersing Broderick leads as relief in between verse passages. The second solo here: perhaps being the perfect meld of "pre and post” Megadeth approaches from Chris, is a terrifically structured and executed expression of energy. Also noteworthy is the title track, “Birth And The Burial”, with a bass and drum intro that reminds of Black Sabbath’s darker and more marching moments. The body of the song suggests that Shawn Drover had at least a small hand in shaping it; the feel and melodic structures are not dissimilar to his work in Eidolon (with guitarist brother Glen, another Megadeth alumni).

This album will undoubtedly be met with strong opinions in either direction. Not surprising, in light of the pedigree of its creators. That said, a debut album from players of this caliber is probably best viewed as an appetizer; a mere taste of the wealth of ideas and directions that are inevitable, if the chemistry and muse are allowed to continue and thrive. Overall though, an impressive and promising effort. For fans of any of the personnel involved and definitely worth multiple spins.

Kelly Kereliuk, HMS

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