At the heart of all subdivisions of the hard rock genre, there is a core of excitement, fun and danger. All the biggest names to come from anywhere in the rock’n’roll landscape, including those of the blues-infused Southern USA school to which Defy All Reason belong, have displayed at least some degree of swagger, fighting spirit and brash hedonistic tendencies. Unfortunately, these values are a) easy to fake and b) fast becoming clichés so overdone that they fail to retain any shock value at all, and in many ways, Defy All Reason embody this. No risks have been taken on The Road Ahead, and the band don’t tread any ground that hasn’t been trodden before. The formula of each song is predictable within the first few seconds, particularly on mellower tracks like ‘Behind Those Eyes’; within the opening two seconds, the lyrics ‘ain’t it strange’, a piano chord and the strum of an acoustic guitar confirm the promise that the song title implied: ah yes, the ballad. I was wondering when that would arrive. A lack of imagination shines through most clearly on the lyrics throughout the album, relying heavily on stock subject matter, particularly on ‘Bad Blood’, which contains absolutely none of the party-hard spirit that is described and comes off as a bit desperate. Defy All Reason do have their strengths though. Musically, they wear their influences on their sleeve. Black Stone Cherry come easily to mind, with elements of Bon Jovi and even The Darkness also detectable,and this Welsh quartet certainly have some of the knack for hooks that these heavyweights have perfected so well. Choruses like those found on ‘You Get Me High’ and ‘Bad Taste of You’ won’t be leaving your head in a hurry after one listen, and that is a sought after skill in this genre. There are some interesting rhythmic moments on ‘Finding My Way’, and on the whole the album will certainly get you nodding your head almost throughout with its subtly infectious grooves. However, that nodding may eventually cause you some neck strain as this album feels about four songs too long, despite clocking in at around a very reasonable 50 minutes, and this really goes to show the lack of any true ingenuity on display here. Their cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ is a wholly unnecessary addition too, as they inexplicably remove the acoustic passages, the contrast of which made the original interesting. Normally the best cover songs are those where the band rework the song into their own style, but in this case Defy All Reason have dragged a classic song down several notches in quality. Interestingly, when the band drop all pretence of having a rough, hard rock edge and try their hand at being a full-on radio rock band on ‘The Only One’, the overall quality shoots up and makes this an album highlight, suggesting that perhaps Defy All Reason’s obvious talents could be put to better use elsewhere on the musical spectrum.
For fans of: Black Stone Cherry, Bon Jovi, Shinedown