Otherwise, ‘Defy’ album review

Matthew Rago, Managing Editor

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“Defy” marks the evolution of Las Vegas hard rockers Otherwise from a true blue rock quartet to a multidimensional act. “Defy,” Otherwise’s fifth full-length album, is a bold, electronically-complemented offering that explores the full spectrum of rock music. Known for their socially conscious lyrics, resounding riffs and escalating choruses, Otherwise deviates away from their personal norm on “Defy,” sampling digitization as a supplement to their traditional hard rock sound. However, where the introduction of digitization has operated as a parasite on the integrity of lesser bands’ music, vocalist Adrian Patrick’s exemplary rhythm helps Otherwise seamlessly incorporate it into their sound.

“Bad Trip,” the first track off “Defy,” begins with a steady, calculated rhythm that will leave listeners subconsciously bobbing their heads before evolving into a crescending chorus that introduces the tone for the rest of the album. The second and third tracks, “Money” and “Crossfire,” follow the same pattern, staggering Brian Medeiros’s lonesome drums against lead guitarist Ryan Patrick’s powerful riffs. Keen listeners will notice electronic elements used sparingly in each number.

“Defy” gravitates toward radio friendliness starting with “Lifted” and “Picking At Bones,” the albums fourth and fifth tracks. Adrian excels here, displaying his ability to blur the line between genres while maintaining the integrity of the band’s hard rock identity. 

“Ain’t Done Yet” sees Otherwise return to their roots. Ryan, who this author believes to be one of the most underrated guitarists of the modern rock scene, exhibits his full musical prowess, offering intoxicating chord progressions that listeners can sink their teeth into. Ryan’s ability to define a song without monopolizing the sound is primarily what differentiates Otherwise from their failed counterparts. 

With “Don’t Even,” Otherwise adopts an aggressive, socially aware stance that touches on everything from the political indoctrination to racial divisions (“I’m not allowed to sing, I have to scream ‘cause I’m not white”). However, “Don’t Even” isn’t your typical socially conscious song that is built solely on a lyrical foundation. The riffs from Ryan and bassist Tony “The Beast” Carboney perfectly complement Adrian’s ironic singsong chorus, allowing each member to collectively express their unique set of values and personality through their musical contributions.

Finally, the album hits on all cylinders with “Fame and Miss Fortune” and “Good Fight”. The band fully explores its hard rock beginnings with “Good Fight,” an inspirational anthem of dedication, desire and perseverance.  Medeiros’s marching drums combine with Adrian’s impassioned vocals to take listeners on the journey of Otherwise, a band that has never masked its family-first approach to fame and entertainment.  

“Fame and Miss Fortune” chronicles the pressures of operating under a microscope in the age of social media (“checkin’ every seven minutes, hoping that you might get noticed”). The song explores the way we conceptualize artificial popularity, judging others based on their ability to generate an internet following. From a musical standpoint, “Fame and Miss Fortune” benefits from an energetic chorus and rhymatic verses, making it the complete package. In both “Fame and Miss Fortune” and “Good Fight,” Otherwise’s unadulterated energy permeates throughout each song, counteracting a sobering message while stimulating the senses of the listener.

Overall, “Defy” is a fantastic addition to an Otherwise catalog defined by steadiness and consistency. At the end of the day, the digital additions were a bold endeavor that seem slightly unnecessary, though that’s more a testament to Otherwise’s musical prowess than an indictment on the actual sound. If you’d like to listen to a hard rock band that takes pride in their craft and has steadily improved since their debut offering, give “Defy” a listen. 

Otherwise performing live at Route 20 Outhouse | Photo by Matthew Rago

Otherwise performing live at Route 20 Outhouse | Photo by Matthew Rago

Otherwise performing live at Route 20 Outhouse | Photo by Matthew Rago

Otherwise performing live at Route 20 Outhouse | Photo by Matthew Rago

Otherwise performing live at Route 20 Outhouse | Photo by Matthew Rago