Defeater – ‘Defeater’

By Dave Stewart

Defeater have been gone a long time, and their absence left a void that was difficult to fill. A band loved and adored for their poetic lyrics and powerful, emotive music, their passionate storytelling burrowed deep into the minds of hardcore kids everywhere. Their last record ‘Abandoned’ was released back in 2015, with their flame slowly dimming as time went by. Now, in 2019, they have a brand new self titled record, and that flame is just as bright as it’s ever been – maybe even brighter.

The time away from the game clearly hasn’t affected Defeater’s ability to deliver a punch, and this record takes every opportunity it gets to propel a haymaker towards your jaw. ‘List & Heel’ supplies that familiar Defeater feeling, marrying delicate guitars with the intense vocals of front man Derek Archambault. ‘Mothers’ Sons’ provides a hefty dose of the same, with soaring verses and gigantic choruses driven along by technical, groove-ridden drums.

Tracks like ‘All Roads’ utilise the softer side of the band with epic crescendos, building up masses of emotion until it has no choice but to spill over. ‘Desperate’ follows a similar method, rising and falling in all the right places to keep your goosebumps guessing. This record is at its best, though, when the emotion is mixed with a dash of distortion and a splash of pace. And you’d better believe there’s plenty of that on offer.

‘Dealer/Debtor’ rockets along at breakneck speed, only ever slowing down to add weight to the wall of power packed into the guitar tone. There’s even a few hints of darkness on show here in ‘Stale Smoke’ and ‘Atheists in Foxholes’, the latter taking the occasional break to unleash some tortured vocals to stress the emotion in lyrics such as “too many kids in graves up and down these coasts”. They definitely saved the best for last though, with closer ‘No Man Born Evil’ stealing the show – it’s perfect round up for the record, referencing everything that came before it in a moving and turbulent finale.

This isn’t a genre defining record, nor is it pushing the envelope, but it doesn’t need to. This record shows a band fully tuned into their craft, making music that sits comfortably alongside everything else they’ve created. If you’ve arrived at this record as a fan of their previous material, you will love this record just as much as the rest. If this is your first taste of the band, you’ll find yourself developing a greater appetite for their signature brand of melodic hardcore.

They may have taken their sweet time, but it’s like they were never gone. Defeater are back.

DAVE STEWART

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