In ‘With Might And Main’, Hertfordshire based alt-metal band Defences have made a well-rounded debut that shows thoughtfulness and a serious abundance of talent. For that we’re grateful, because it’s been a long process. Cherry Duesbury, the lead vocalist of the five-piece, attested to this earlier in the year, “This album is the product of years and years of hard work. It was tough, and there were times I wasn’t sure if it would ever be finished, but we did it, and I am so proud of the end result.”
And that hard work has fed into the work itself: nothing crystallises this cathartic word-becoming-flesh moment more than the refrain, “I’m not dreaming / I’m not dreaming anymore”, which echoes through opening track ‘Re Emerge’ before materialising in full during the chorus of ‘The Takeoff’. Wake up and take a bow, Defences. This is real.
A cursory Google search will inform anyone ignorant of the meaning (i.e. yours truly) that “with might and main” is an anachronistic phrase, which basically amounts to “with all of one’s might”, with the use of ‘main’ being a redundancy. This tautology is quite a useful descriptor of the album itself.
13 tracks is a great deal of time, and the band end up covering a lot of the same ground – not that it’s unoriginal or tiresome, rather it’s akin to a hammer hitting the head of a nail again and again, or a martial arts expert focusing on an opponent’s one weak point. It’s mostly effective, and a lot of the tracks demonstrate this; the triumvirate of ‘Grow’, ‘Let You In’, and ‘Scared’ hold court over the rest of the record, veering from fearsome growls to absolute ground-shaking hook lines and ridiculous riffs.
But not every track is ‘mighty’; quite a few have an undercurrent of vulnerability that could be easily overlooked. Take ‘Gravity’, probably the best track on the album, where Duesbury sings, “I brushed it off / Pushed it aside / But I couldn’t hide / I was looking for you”, it stands in opposition to the fierce things that preceded it. Ditto to penultimate track, ‘Shanghai’.
These moments where the band displays a light touch only make the record better, and more balanced. In the end it’s a finely crafted tool, not unlike the samurai sword in the album art.
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)