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   Transitional Forms
Artist: Defyance  
Label: Nightmare Records
Length: 9/52:44

Picture yourself as a young teenager in the 80’s.  You’ve checked out what music has to offer.  New Wave isn’t cutting it for you - too many synthesizers and weird haircuts.  Pop has become prefab - more about looks than talent.  MTV (yes, they once played music, boys and girls!) is killing off the old guitar bands, revealing talented, but mostly unattractive musicians.  You have finally settled into an area where you listen to Journey, Boston, Kansas, AC/DC, Van Halen - bands that still acknowledge that rock music is built around guitar hooks, catchy choruses, bass, drums, and giving the fans a show.

Flash forward to 2002: MTV rarely plays music, the bands you grew up on have been relegated to state fairs, small clubs, or simply have broken up.  They get featured on “Behind the Music” and the current generation of radio listeners wants to know why anyone would ever have worn their hair that way.  Now, do you decide to emulate those bands, or do you give in to the nu-metal sound and cash in to make a quick buck?

Defyance, surprisingly, takes the former option. Transitional Forms is like opening a time capsule, a flashback to the days of big hair, black leather, and loud, flashy guitar solos. “Connection” is the leadoff, a Journey/Kansas/Petra sound alike featuring the talents of vocalist Lance King.  “Passing of the Night” deals with a penitent dealing either with personal trials, or actually in prison:

They tear my flesh and crush my bones
to starve my heart
The rampant music rips my mind in two

This 3 by 6 foot cell
I’m down on my knees
I lift my voice in prayer to my God...

A Force to Face My Fears” gets a little heavier, with King’s vocals approaching those of The Scorpions.  “Silent Tears” is a Queensryche/Journey amalgam, as is “A Notion.”  “Fire of the Ancients” is much the same, but stands out lyrically, displaying a tip of the hat to ancestors and their teachings:
 Alone in the wilderness
 An Ancient voice is heard
 Speaking of light and truth
 To the kings of old
 He speaks to us this day
 Showing us the way
 Giving hope to wretched souls
 Where there was none before...
“Just Beyond My Sight” recalls the glory that was Stryper.  “Tied to a Wheel” is about finding (and losing?) love.  And of course, this being an 80’s style metal album, there is the obligatory ballad - “Never Fade Away”, which, in a different era, would be to Defyance what “Love is on the Way” was to Saigon Kick.

Transitional Forms recalls an era in music that has been neglected when discussing rock’s history - the impact of heavy metal.  It nods to most of the great bands of that era, while displaying some real talent musically.  The real “Defyance” here is in their refusing to follow today’s musical trends, and in just making a great album
that very few will hear.  

Brian A. Smith 1/11/2003


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