Hot off the Press

Defuse | Bangkok Addiction

by Mark Allen
Staff Writer —

There is a lot to like, little to loathe, and a certain amount of ambivalence generated on this latest album from this Finnish band. The modern sleaze-rock fuse they ignite fails to yield the monstrous explosion hoped for, but it definitely throws off some solid heat in spots, though in between these hot spots the metal flame sort of sputters and flickers like glowing embers waiting for a brisk wind to come along and billow them back to fiery life.

Take a healthy helping of modern hard rock and merge it with the sleazily retro attitude of late ‘80s Sunset Strip metal and you’ve got the sound of Defuse. You can hear a wide range of influences, from the mechanization of Sick Puppies to the dark-edged melodicism of Gemini Five (think Black Anthem, not Babylon Rockets) to the bluesy punk-metal anger of Guns N’ Roses to the deliberate decadence of Motley Crue. Granted, these guys are hardly the first band to attempt this kind of hard rock hybrid and other acts have done it better, but Defuse have no reason to hang their heads in shame like a horny thirteen year-old caught stroking off to a picture of a shaved poodle.

The first thing that kicks you in the cochlea is the heavy, down-tuned guitars powering home some big riffs with bone-rattling bass providing a beefy bottom end. While nothing here is going to cause your jaw to free-fall to the floor, the guitar work is very good and Arto Ahonen should be commended for his fearless willingness to cut loose with some sizzling solos. We’re not talking Lynch or Aldrich caliber here, but he gets the job done.

Defuse’s biggest flaw is the roller coaster quality of their hooks. For this kind of mash-up to work, you need a symbiotic trinity of heaviness, attitude, and hooks. Defuse have the first two parts down pat, but are hit and miss with the third. They try really hard, but what you usually get is a song that makes you exclaim, “Wow, that was great!” followed by a song that makes you go, “Well, that was decent, I guess,” followed by a song that makes you mutter, “Whoa, I really could’ve lived the rest of my life without hearing that and been okay.” Greatness mixed with mediocrity and sprinkled with fecal flecks is hardly a gourmet recipe. But hey, at least the moments of greatness prove that the band does, at times, have what it takes to be serious competitors.

Someone exhibited retarded wisdom by piling the best songs toward the back half of the album. “Melting Sky” is coated in melodic infectiousness, with a commercial hook and soaring chorus punched up with generous backing vocals. Then comes the album highlight “Evil Soul,” which pulses and throbs with modern edginess and deserves to be all over mainstream radio, followed by the razor-sharp intensity of “Grace the Devil” which whiplashes between savage guitars and brooding passages, both jam-packed with the kind of hard-fisted attitude that backhands you in the kisser and refuses to apologize afterward as you stand there sans teeth.

Modern sleaze addicts will find this album right up their dirty needle-strewn alley. Not the best example the genre has ever exhibited, but one good enough to earn a place in your collection, if only for the standout tracks (this album is just begging to be cherry-picked on iTunes). So while it might not blow your mind like the best girl in a Bangkok brothel, this release is still worth forking over a few bucks for, good enough that when it enters your auditory canal, your ears won’t feel like they were just infected with a disease.

Genre: Modern Hard Rock, Sleaze

Jani Hyvarinen (vocals)
Arto Ahonen (lead guitar)
Timo Hamalainen (rhythm guitar)
Jerkko Tapaninen (drums)
Tero Karjalainen (bass)

Track Listing:
1. Overtake
2. Back to the Underground
3. Adrift
4. Cross the Line
5. On Your Blind Side
6. Flying Colours
7. Melting Sky
8. Evil Soul
9. Grace the Devil
10. Done My Time
11. Deep Red Dead End


Label: Fastball Music

Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10