Boston hardcore crew Defeater may have always been known for their lyrical density and story telling, but with their self-titled fifth record, they’ve pushed themselves to a new echelon.
With the record taking on multiple characters, still sticking to the time period surrounding the World War II era for their conceptual narratives, ‘Defeater’ not only expands on the stories that are told, but by going back to basics, it also re-enforces how strong the group’s foundation is.
Opening with ‘The Worst Of Fates’, the quartet smash through ringing chords, raspy vocal hooks, and swirling feedback. Utilising space, the track allows vocalist Derek Archambault‘s raw aggression to drive the track to its hammering chorus, rips through their own trademarks in less than three minutes.
As expected, the quartet don’t rely on the common hardcore tropes to maintain interest, with tracks such as ‘List & Heel’ working with Archambault‘s ever-changing delivery, or the violent and clustered drums that tear through ‘All Roads’, courtesy of Joe Longobardi.
Whilst the record is full of energy and scathing distortion, it’s the melodic flourishes and moments of bleakness that let it stand out. ‘Desperate’ is a cut that highlights this, with guitarist Jake Woodruff painting a dissonant and captivating soundscape to arguably the turning point of the record. Disregarding conventional structures and referencing narratives from tracks such as ‘Hourglass’ and ‘Dealer/Debtor’, it worms its way to an explosive climax.
The record’s main highlights are the moments when the band decide to take a left turn, from the industrial breaks found in the aforementioned ‘Dealer/Debtor’ or the clustered chords that cut through the harrowing lead single, ‘Mothers’ Sons’. With the combination of nuanced flourishes and an impassioned delivery, the record moves past the by-numbers hardcore that it could easily fall into.
As the record nears its end, ‘Hourglass’ gives a new flavour the group’s sound, as feedback acts like chords against a strong double-kick pattern to create a hypnotising soundscape. As bassist Mike Poulin holds down the fort, Archambault delivers strong vocal hooks, with lyrics such as “Sins stay, hope don’t” poking through.
Ending abruptly, Defeater‘s self-titled offering is a bleak and gruelling listen, but one that reaps rewards. For existing fans, the lyrical density and callbacks to previous records are hidden delicately, demanding repeat plays. As for newcomers, whilst it may not showcase the band’s softer and arguably easier to digest moments, it does display their ferocious edge and pummelling energy.