Letters Home

Written by: PP on 04/09/2013 23:31:43

Ah, Defeater. One of the hottest names in 'wave' style emotional hardcore in recent years, and the bridge between the slower paced, poetic contemplation of La Dispute, and the more direct action of Touché Amoré. Their new album "Letters Home" makes that exact case with a versatile expression that ranges from the hardcore punk influenced to the emotionally charged, torn melodies that spend lengthy periods in instrumental build ups and ambient sections to form rich atmospheres. Atmospheres, which are a perfect fit for fall weather music, when the skies turn grain and gloomy, and when wind gusts throw unnecessary amounts of rain in your face as you're walking through the streets of Copenhagen. When you add the desperate howls of vocalist Derek Archambault on top, you have one tormented soundscape that depicts the very idea of pessimism and loss of hope, fitting in nicely with the band's concept of a World War II family falling apart that's been ongoing for three albums now.

For all of the above, Defeater receive a lot of hype and credit for. However, I've always found that the band's problem is inconsistency, which is on display on "Letters Home" perhaps even more so than it was on "Empty Days & Sleepless Nights" two years ago. Album opener "Bastards" gets it off to a good start with desperate repetitions of "And still all you see is that bastard in me", which is a leitmotif that repeats itself on album closer "Bled Out". The screams are back-chilling, drenched in emotion, fear, and hopelessness, exactly what you want from your Defeater album, and the tempo is solid, with Touché Amoré-esque instrumentation driving the song forward from a hardcore punk base. "No Shame" is good as well, here sounding like a mesh between Modern Life Is War and La Dispute, but thereafter--especially during the middle section of the album--it all starts to blend into a grey mass of songs that individually are solid, but sound too much alike each other to create a lasting impression in the listener. These songs largely miss the epic clashes between melodic hardcore and emotional hardcore, which happens on the final trio of songs on the album, "No Savior", "Rabbit Foot" and "Bled Out", where the band are at their very best and make the aforementioned case for being one of the most important 'wave' bands around right now.

At the same time one has to give credit for the lyrical universe, which has astounding depth at this point of Defeater's career. So whether you'll agree with me on the above will largely depend on how deeply invested you've become with the story. It's detail-rich, complicated and rewarding - but I suppose you can say the same thing about Coheed & Cambria, and we all know their best albums were the first two ones despite the increased complexity of their storyline since then. So what I'm saying is this: the harrowing howls of Archambault are brilliant at times, but can grow old relatively quickly. The same goes with the instrumentation. When it's good - it's really good. When it's not, it's merely what you're used to hearing from 'wave' inspired bands left and right. Still good, but is it really worthy of this much hype? I'm still not entirely convinced.

Download: No Savior, No Shame, Bastards, Bled Out, Blood In My Veins
For the fans of: Touché Amoré, La Dispute, Modern Life Is War
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.07.2013
Bridge 9

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