The Defiants: ‘Drive’

Released on June 9, 2023 (Frontiers Music Srl)

The Defiants came about in 2015 boasting current and former members of Danger Danger. Being a big fan of Danger Danger, this was an easy thing for me to accept and check out. And, that first record blew my mind… With heavy pop and poppy hard rock songs on it that stand up with the best stuff of the ’80s hair metal genre including and possibly especially “Love And Bullets”, The Defiants were immediately a new band with veteran parts that I loved. And then, Zokusho came out. And, I didn’t love it at first… I wrote a really snarky review of the record because I was so put off by the Japanese title and artwork. Zokusho, by the way, means sequel or second chapter which is appropriate in a lot of ways. But, when you have a keen dislike for anime and a band you gushed over kind of jumps into that realm, you don’t take to it right away. Well, I’ve gone back and listened to that album by taking it off my CD shelf and popping it in and I wish I wasn’t such a stubborn jackass in 2019 because the Sleaze Roxx readers had it right. That was one of the best records of that year in the face of stiff competition. “Standing On The Edge” is my suggested song you check out if you’ve not heard that one.

Well, it is 2023 and Paul Laine, Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello are back in action. With a title of Drive, I didn’t have any jerky knee-jerk reaction to the title and went in with an open, eager ear. The result? Well, I would say a home run. But, I think that fails to drive home the winning run…. Lets call it a grand slam! The album kicks off with “Hey Life”, an anthem that has perhaps the most contemporary style of all the album. The rhythm section on this kicks some major ass and the lyrics approach perfection. I love it. “Go Big or Go Home” is perhaps the best or maybe second best song on the record. With “Woah” vocals very popular in modern wrestling theme songs — I mean, seriously. Have you watched wrestling lately? Everybody’s got an “oh oh” or “woah” song that sounds like the March of The Wooden Soldiers Laurel and Hardy movie. The reason I mention pro wrestling is I think someone should send this song, “Go Big or Go Home”, to the offices of World Wrestling Entertainment or All Elite Wrestling. This has such a driving beat, great musicianship, bad ass vocals, and a tribal chant the audience can pick up and sing along to… And with how good this production is, can you imagine it playing in a football stadium with a wrestler coming down the aisle to it? It would fit. And, the lyrics fit too. What a freaking song.

“19 Summertime” follows. If you’re a fan of Danger Danger, you’ll dig this. It has gang vocals to sell the hooks ala good old Def Leppard songs with lyrics of young love and classic conquests…. What a good time rock and roller! And, it has that “woah” chanting thing going on too. “What Are We Waiting For” has a lot of that classic Bon Jovi vibe that Danger Danger often finds itself compared to. I mean, I know Jon has sold a lot of records with his pop country sound in recent years including the instantly forgettable 2020 record. Imagine if Jon released a song like this on one of the Bon Jovi albums? It would be on every commercial from corn flakes to ladies feminine care products with wings! While “19 Summertime” and “What Are We Waiting For” both are on the softer side, the first true ballad on the album is “Miracle.” I like it. It has a very Def Leppard style vibe to it…. perhaps with some “Love Bites” inspiration? But, when the rocking tracks are so good, I kind of found myself looking forward to the next track.

The search is over for song of the year… The search is over for the song I will post on Facebook as the song I don’t remember writing because I relate to it so much and it says every word I’ve been thinking for the past three…. Well, 41 years if we are going to get right down to it. “Against The Grain” is the perfect song. Perfection. Everything I have to say is right there in that five-minute track. I’ve often gotten emotional explaining how a great song is the song you hear and you know exactly what was in the heart and mind of the guy who wrote it… You know exactly what he was feeling at that moment. Well, that song is genius. Defiant lyrics, pun not intended, with some “woah” sing alongs and a bad ass spoken word section after the incredible guitar solo. Wow. I mean, wow. I heard it once and got goosebumps. The best new song I have heard this year. “So Good” is up next. Paul Laine is a beast on vocals here. With a groove that kind of reminds me of FireHouse‘s “Shake And Tumble”, bad ass vocals, and a relatable set of lyrics… Another gem!

“Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” is another softer rocker. It gives me mid ’90s pop rock vibes which isn’t a terrible thing but after some damn near perfect hard rock tracks, I must admit I kind of was searching for another. “Another Place, Another Time” follows that same suit. It isn’t that it isn’t a good song. It just isn’t face melting like some of the songs I’ve already reviewed. “Night To Remember” gives me a little bit of a Frank Stallone “Far from Over” vibe. Seriously, I’ve referenced Laurel and Hardy and, Frank Stallone in the same review. That has to be a first. “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” is a great way to round out the album. Perhaps a leftover from Zokusho, this has a little bit of shynthy sound but driving, defiant vocals that explore Paul‘s diverse range. While his high register is his most pleasing and most frequently used, he shows a little bit more range here and it really makes this track stand out.

This is not a super group record. This is the third album of a very, very, very good band! Of late, Frontiers Music Srl has come under fire for some of their releases. Often, like Dirty Shirley for example, the album has maybe one good song that is pushed by the label with a music video and the remaining tracks are hot garbage. Also, sometimes, artists bash the label for situations far beyond my understanding of contracts. And, some also point at Frontiers as the reason that albums that could be great albums but have really bad production, see the new L.A. Guns album I reviewed for an example. To all of those claims, I say listen to this record. The album sounds fantastic! I mean, it sounds like a million freaking dollars. Or, with our inflation over the past few years, 10 million dollars! What a great, rich, clean, big sound this album has. From crunching guitars when needed, driving bass and drums that punch you right in the lungs, to clean vocals with range… I don’t think any label can give me an example of an album in 2023 that sounds as good as this production wise. As for the content? Oh boy. Here goes.

Rock and roll is about defiance. So, it is stunning to me that a band called The Defiants never existed before these guys came around. While I know Ted Poley is still out there and Danger Danger is kind of sort of a thing — although I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw them listed as playing anywhere — I almost wish this record was released under the Danger Danger name because it would get more attention. Back to my original point. The defiant nature of four or so of these songs screams every one of the reasons I love rock and roll. As a guy with certain physical challenges — a vision disability — I found rock and roll as a confidence boosting, fuel for my soul to stand up and fight when it might have been easier or even wiser to just lay down my weapons and accept my fate. Simply put, if rock and roll didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today… There is a chance I’d not still be here and that isn’t hyperbole. Every now and again, an album is released that has those songs that connect with me on a level that reminds me why I have devoted my life to being a rock and roller. This is one of those records. I salute all involved. You have produced a freaking masterpiece. Thank you for Drive!

Track List:
01. Hey Life
02. Go Big or Go Home
03. 19 Summertime
04. What Are We Waiting For
05. Miracle
06. Against The Grain
07. So Good
08. Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
09. Another Time, Another Place
10. The Night To Remember
11. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now

Band Members:
Paul Laine – lead vocals
Rob Marcello – guitar
Bruno Ravel – bass

Additional Musician:
Van Romaine – drums

Band Website:

Reviewed by for Sleaze Roxx, June 2023

The Defiants‘ “Go Big or Go Home” video:

The Defiants‘ “Hey Life” lyric video:

The Defiants‘ “19 Summertime” video: