Act of Defiance frontman Henry Derek and I go way back. I was a literature student back in the Fall of 2001, still getting my feet wet as a music writer. I’d gone to suburban Chicago for the inaugural ProgPower Festival that previous February, and I was eager as all hell to get to the second edition in Atlanta. I’d barely been in the venue an hour when I ran into a vendor I had met some years ago at the Austin Record Convention. He was familiar with my work, and so directed me to a group of guys hanging out nearby. “Hey, Mike told me to come talk to you guys,” I said. He had already warned them about me, it seems, because a guy who identified himself as Derek shoved a CD and a postcard into my hands. I examined the goods: “Oh you guys are Lilitu? I read about you in Lamentations. Sure, I’ll check you guys out.” Seventeen years later, Memorial remains one of my favorite albums. Sadly, Lilitu split up around 2006, but Derek has kept busy with several other projects with some illustrious performers including former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison and Gorgoroth bassist King Ov Hell.
These days, Henry Derek Bonner has been tearing it up with Act of Defiance, his band with Megadeth alumni Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover, together with former Shadows Fall guitarist Matt Bachand on bass. Act of Defiance just happened to perform in my hometown of San Antonio on Henry‘s birthday, so I presented him with a photograph I took of him performing with Lilitu in Austin back for SXSW 2005. We spent about an hour chatting in the green room, not as rock star and journalist, but as old friends catching up after too many years.
Needless to say, Act of Defiance are consummate professionals on stage, with Shawn and Matt laying the groove down while Henry D. and shredmaster Chris reducing their adoring crowds to putty in their hands. One of the show’s many highlights came when Chris announced that it was Henry‘s birthday, and from the photopit I led the crowd in chanting “VIEJO! VIEJO! VIEJO!” But better than that was watching a fourteen year old nearly break her neck banging away during the set, screaming every word at the top of her lungs. She was in complete fangirl mode when the band were hanging out by the merch booth afterwards, and a part of me (briefly) pined for the days I could be so carefree.
Henry later commented that talking to her reminded him of why he started doing this, and why he needs to continue. Act of Defiance‘s second album, Old Scars, New Wounds was released by Metal Blade Records in 2017. You can check our own review of the album at this location. It is definitely worth your time.
ACT OF DEFIANCE Set-List
M.I.A. / Disastrophe (A New Reality) / Overexposure / Thy Lord Belial / Lullaby of Vengeance / Talisman / Birth and the Burial / Poison Dream / Dead Stare / Rise of Rebellion / Reborn / Throwback