Def Con One: Warface

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Def Con One: Warface
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Def Con One: Warface
Groove Metal, Thrash Metal
Scarlet Records
June 19th, 2012
Release length: 56:07
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Def Con One is a Groove/Thrash Metal group from Newcastle, United Kingdom that also has some Hardcore tendencies. Back in 2008, Blood Soaks The Floor marked their debut full-length album, but it was released independently. It’s been roughly four years, and now they find themselves signed to Scarlet Records to issue their second album, Warface. Well, at least what the general public will think is a follow-up effort considering some of the tracks were already released back on their last recording, but available again in a new quality for their potential and established fans to possibly hear for the first time.

While the music to Warface can be pretty solid here and there, the audio quality leaves a bit to be desired. The guitars sound heavy with a slight dirty distortion used that drives a Hardcore rebellion through some of the songs, though that emotion can easily get lost among typical compositions. The bass isn’t too deep, but ends up pretty loud in the mix, coming off as something you can feel more than hear. The cymbals are moderately loud, though seem to be a little too muffled, unlike the snares that have more of a hollow sound to them, and the bass kicks that are pushed back in the mix, but carry a sharp click to them that is easy to pick out. The vocals sound louder than they should as well depending on what style is being executed, ranging from shouting to raspy right into clean singing.

Unfortunately, the issues with the audio quality are far from the only problems plaguing Warface. This album ranges so horribly between kick ass headbanging metal to terribly clashing and uninspiring Groove worship that it’s hard to get into most of the time. “Never Look Back” carries a restrained aggressive approach one might attribute to Sepultura, but also had moments you could argue as Chimaira or even Dope during the lighter sections with rougher harmonizations. The first of those two, however, do seem to show up here and there, such as during “Blood,” often pushing a shouting approach that works out well. This track pumps the listener full of energy and excitement for what’s to come that it’s heartbreaking when “March of the Dead” kicks in, and you’re greeted with the main problems of the release. These unfortunately include really off-key singing, as well as horribly bland music that the vocals greatly dwarf, a frustrating element for when the music actually starts to grab you by the throat. “March of the Dead” has some pretty good music, though some bass kicks that hammer away really quick in a bridge fashion sound atrocious on top of the god awful shouting of the song name. The rather hostile introduction slows down to a simpler groove and clean vocals, all of which sounding suspiciously like “Bodies” by Drowning Pool for the verses. The chorus does differ greatly, and the lower singing does work a lot better overall. This foundation carries into “Warfare,” but this time much of it sounds heavily based on “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera. Towards the end, the bass kicks go back into the off-timed tempo again that just sounds amateurish.

“Hold On” isn’t a bad song, but at times it just comes off as a more hostile Alternative Rock track. While the material isn’t too bad, the passages that feature background singing of “hold on” in a simple tone-deaf manner are terrible, but could have been saved had the volume level been lower, or pushed back into the mix. “Stepped In Pain” has some two-stepping going on against really heavy music that wouldn’t be too bad if the two-stepping didn’t suck. The speed in the main verses doesn’t work, and you can even hear it go from a steady louder click to a quieter one that makes the listener instantly suspect fatigue and/or frustration. Then there’s the closing track “Give Me Strength,” a slower offering with low singing that still manages to go off-key with much of the material just being far from anything strong to begin with. By the time you reach about the half way point, you’ll just be waiting for it to end. It’s not that the track is generally long, but after all the problems you have to go through to get here, it just becomes the straw on the camel’s back as far as your patience goes.

But, with all these songs that really are just uninspiring, unoriginal, and/or just flat out unenjoyable, you do need to look at the better tracks, and yes they do exist. “Blood” does have a stronger performance with a good aggressive quality to the Groove soaked material. The screaming vocals work very well with this, though it’s impossible to understand why the clean singing is so much louder compared to it. The tone is lower here, so they’re tolerable against the simpler, yet still heavy and headbang worthy music. “10 Bullets” also stands out well. The charging, pounding sections sound good with a suitable bass kick pace, complimenting the tighter shouting vocals, and the clean singing sounds a lot more on target with the pitch of the music, leaving a truly enjoyable experience. Fortunately, from this point on, the release actually ends up being rather good with the exception of “Give Me Strength.”

In all honesty, Warface does have some unrecognized potential to it. Unfortunately, due to the quality, the many off-beat moments in the drums, and the often off-key vocals, it’s greatly hindered. It also doesn’t help that the band often seems to not know what direction they want to go in. I was personally done with this recording by the time I got half way through “Hold On,” and felt the rest of it an endurance test until “10 Bullets” was hit. Unfortunately, many others will find the same problem unless they happen to have a tin ear. It’s impossible to not sit back and hear the Pantera and Chimaira influences, and if they weren’t then it’s a remarkable coincidence. Either way, so many songs had some kind of major issue that could point the blame on the band or the producer(s). It’s honestly impossible to suggest this effort, though the better songs listed in this review are worth sampling on iTunes or another digital MP3 retailer. You may end up banging your head along to a few of them, or at the very least like their energy. But, in the end, that’s about all you’ll really find worth your time here.

01. Never Look Back – 5:03
02. March of the Dead – 5:23
03. Warface – 3:31
04. Hold On – 4:28
05. Blood – 4:11
06. Stepped in Pain – 4:31
07. 10 Bullets – 4:22
08. Feeling Cold – 4:56
09. My Halo – 3:57
10. Hit List – 4:46
11. In Death – 5:04
12. Give Me Strength – 5:55
Overall Score: 2.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Scarlet Records.