Act of Defiance Lives Up to Its Pedigree
In their 30-plus years together, metal group Megadeth has seen eleven different musicians occupy the lead guitar spot. Chris Broderick – Megadeth’s lead guitarist for more than six years – announced his departure just before Thanksgiving 2014, citing “artistic and musical differences.” That same day, longtime Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover announced he too would be leaving “to pursue [his] own musical interests,” ending a decade-long membership in the group.
But Broderick says the two announcements weren’t part of an orchestrated plan. Though he and Drover soon decided to start Act of Defiance, a new group of their own, that idea “came out of the taking Shawn and I were doing right after leaving.”
The longtime friends and musical comrades set their sights on creating something different from Megadeth, but as they began looking for players to round out the group, they intentionally didn’t define their goals beyond that. “Our only criteria at the time was [to find] a singer who had character in his voice,” Broderick says. “Other than that, there was no exact direction. We were just looking for people with individuality.”
They found the person they needed in Henry Derek, former vocalist for Scar the Martyr. They also recruited Matt Bachand, former bassist in Shadows Fall. With their lineup complete, Act of Defiance signed with Metal Blade Records and cut their debut album, the highly-regarded Birth and the Burial. That album, released in August 2015, featured ten tracks written by band members working alone or in collaboration. Birth and the Burial earned positive reviews and performed well on four different album charts, including a #18 position on Billboard‘s Top Hard Rock Albums chart.
The band mixes familiar elements of extreme metal – precise, breakneck drumming; technically exacting guitar work; and aggressive vocals – with the beauty and expressiveness of classical music (in the form of Broderick’s acoustic guitar playing), often all within a single song. But Broderick doesn’t believe that Act of Defiance consciously aims to bridge those disparate styles. “It just ends up being the prevailing style that I write in,” he says.
Birth and the Burial doesn’t include any writing credits from bassist Bachand. And while Act of Defiance hasn’t yet begun writing for their second album, Broderick already knows how it will differ from their debut. “It’s definitely going to involve all of us more collaboratively,” he promises. “Especially bringing Matt into the fold; he’s a great writer, and he has really great melodic ideas. So we want to make sure that we utilize those as well.”
All four members of Act of Defiance have well-established pedigrees in former groups, but their goal is to concentrate on the present and the future; you won’t hear any old Megadeth or Shadows Fall tunes at their shows. They do, however, play the occasional cover in tribute to some of their fallen metal heroes. On their last tour, they played “Ace of Spades” in tribute to Motörhead‘s Lemmy. “This tour,” Broderick says, “we’re doing ‘I’m Broken’ by Pantera in tribute to Dimebag Darrell.”
The group’s primary and current focus is touring in support of Birth and the Burial, and they’re currently playing dates with like-minded groups Devildriver and Hatebreed. Though those other bands have styles of their own (melodic groove metal and hardcore metal, respectively), Broderick thinks that having all three bands on a single bill is a good idea; it encourages all the players to bring their very best. “We want to make sure that we bring out all of our heaviest stuff,” Broderick says, “and show these hardcore metal fans that we can keep up.”
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.