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Defeater - Empty Days & Sleepless Nights (Cover Artwork)

Defeater

Defeater: Empty Days & Sleepless NightsEmpty Days & Sleepless Nights (2011)
Bridge Nine Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

On their second LP, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights, Defeater make it clear that "hardcore" is no longer defined by a certain sound or a rigid set of rules forged in the '80s, but rather, a mood sitting somewhere between desperation and anger. Throughout the new release, the band adopts multitudes of .


On their second LP, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights, Defeater make it clear that "hardcore" is no longer defined by a certain sound or a rigid set of rules forged in the '80s, but rather, a mood sitting somewhere between desperation and anger. Throughout the new release, the band adopts multitudes of sounds, but remain undeniably "hardcore" throughout the proceedings.

Most noticeably, while older hardcore records were often monochromatic, expressing a singular musical concept 13 times in a row, Defeater are comfortable in letting the music form into its own shapes. Although the music flips between a drifting aerial sound and a harsher buzz attack, the polished production links the pieces together, giving the piece a coherent thread, albeit, not a static one. Interestingly, this gives the music somewhat of a structured feel. While "Dear Father" has guitars that seem to drift like jellyfish, and "Empty Glass" whirls like a rusty Stuka propeller, both seem to build their phrasing around a steady drumbeat, filling in the gaps as opposed to just being thrown forward in an attempt to stay atop the wave.

Vocalist Derek Archambault keeps his delivery in the style of most modern hardcore. His scream seems to build from a reserved howl to all-out vocal cord shredding. Although he's able to keep the sound of his voice behind the ragged yell, giving the vocals some distinction, at times, the sound becomes somewhat of a flatline. Pulling of the gas a little here and there would really give aggregate emphasis to the band's fairly strong sense of dynamics.

Where Archambault does excel is in the lyrics themselves. Although the release is a concept album about a family suffering through the struggles of life post-WWII, Archambault skillfully ties the concepts to the words, giving them greeter meaning when viewed in light of the band's intentions, but also allows them to stand for something independently, neither needing, nor being weighed down, by an intricate background story.

Further arguing that "hardcore" is a concept and not a sound, the band ends the release with an acoustic coda composed of four songs. "But Breathing" begins as little more than a voice and sole guitar, and even skirts daringly close to John Mellencamp territory. But, by the time the group reaches "Headstone", they've also waved to the Pogues as well as Dylan, using a series of understated instruments and chords.

Although understated isn't usually a word that can be applied to hardcore, Defeater makes it work. Really, "concept album" is sort of anti-hardcore, but along with a certain other group, Defeater are either making new rules or just forgetting the old ones. For that fact, Dylan is not exactly hardcore fodder, but, the times they are a-changing, and Defeater seems to be one of the engines behind the shift.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
SwissCheese (April 24, 2012)

Starting to get into this album! Will have to let this grow on me a lil more, but as of right now it's pretty rockin!

keithybobeefy (January 21, 2012)

I just picked up the physical copy of this album and as someone stated before, the album art is great. I enjoy that I get to look through a booklet and gain insight to the story behind the record. One of my favorite album art (including Smashing Pumpkins "Melancholy & the Infinite Sadness, Dogwood "Building a Better Me", and Thrice's delux version of "Vheissu".

InMyChucks (November 29, 2011)

Trying to figure out why such a beautifully crafted review has spelling and grammar errors. COME ON people!

jo_punk_promoter (August 1, 2011)

This is definitly the best thing Defeater has ever done and to me, it's one of the best hardcore record of the last few years. Mindblowing.

wearestillalive (August 1, 2011)

Yeah, I REALLLLLLLYYYY do not get the fuss about Defeater. I also feel slightly uncomfortable about the fact they used to be called 'Sluts'.

mikexdude (August 1, 2011)

Also, I can't help but feel like people are too easily taken by any band that's got the courage to let the guitars go clean for a little while, with everything else still going hard. It's been done many times by many mediocre bands (remember Life In Your Way? Instrumentally, they sounded a lot like this). That the band doing it now is proficient, intelligent, etc. doesn't make it as interesting as the review suggests it is. This isn't a record of many moods. It's a record of varied guitar tones with a couple acoustic tracks thrown in for good measure. Not the same thing.

TRUTH

ben_s (July 31, 2011)

"as much as I love Defeater and this record, I'd be REALLY interested in seeing Derek do an all-acoustic EP or some kind of recording. He's got a rad thing going with those."

This.

ireviewmusic (July 31, 2011)

Whoever said this was really different from their last one needs their ears checked.

I really like this band's schtick, but on the third go-round it's pretty grating. The singer's a decent lyricist, but it would be nice if he moved on from this repetitive, vaguely similar concept material. The title of this record screams uninspired self-imitation.

Also, I can't help but feel like people are too easily taken by any band that's got the courage to let the guitars go clean for a little while, with everything else still going hard. It's been done many times by many mediocre bands (remember Life In Your Way? Instrumentally, they sounded a lot like this). That the band doing it now is proficient, intelligent, etc. doesn't make it as interesting as the review suggests it is. This isn't a record of many moods. It's a record of varied guitar tones with a couple acoustic tracks thrown in for good measure. Not the same thing.

onegirlarmy (July 31, 2011)

as much as I love Defeater and this record, I'd be REALLY interested in seeing Derek do an all-acoustic EP or some kind of recording. He's got a rad thing going with those.

bryne (July 30, 2011)

Great, great stuff.

xherojuanax (July 30, 2011)

"Dear Father" and the acoustic songs really make this record for me, but the lyrics are way too repetitive, which is even more noticeable with it being a narrative and all.

fixedfrequencies (July 30, 2011)

Seriously, a great album.

Alien (July 30, 2011)

I can't believe this is only being reviewed now.

This is fantastic. Some of the most interesting hardcore I can recall.
Highly recommended.

misterspike (July 29, 2011)

Need to check this out. Great review.

ben_s (July 29, 2011)

I had been wondering why this hadn't been reviewed yet, and was working on one of my own at literally the same time I just saw this posted.

Great record and review though. I think it deserved at least another half star.

theproblemwithfire (July 29, 2011)

cursed ruined most modern hardcore for me, because they were so good and it's hard to top their material. this band is no exception to that. boring.

kursk64 (July 29, 2011)

One of the best of the year, deserves a higher score, etc

peheme (July 29, 2011)

I really appreciate the difference between this and "Lost Ground". The bar was set so high after it, but they succeed doing something different and awesome. With the last Touche Amore effort, this is what 2011 made the best for the moment... After "The Danger of Standing Still", which will be the best 2011 album imo.

exitenglish1208 (July 29, 2011)

3.5 only? i thought this album was uneblievable start to finish, definitely top 5 of the year

ak3punk (July 29, 2011)

One of the best albums of the year.

drunkwithpower (July 29, 2011)

I streamed this record somewhere and after a few songs I turned it off because it reminded me so much of MLIW that I would rather listen to that.

thepopeofchili-town (July 29, 2011)

I love the acoustic songs, don't care for the rest at all.

eatdogs (July 29, 2011)

this might not mean much to anybody, but as far as album art is concerned, defeater have kept up a solid string of great pieces that i really enjoy lookin' at...

insinceredave (July 29, 2011)

Great record, one my favorites of the year so far. The way the last song just ends so abruptly as the train approaches is very clever within the context of the record. Just wonder what they will move onto next, as it seems like its the end of this story.

A solid 8

inagreendase (July 29, 2011)

Bangin', all the way through Track 10. As far as the folk tracks, I was hoping for something as brash as the song on 'Travels', but these are pretty well-done.

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