Defiant Hearts - Arlington (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Defiant Hearts

Arlington (2007)


Defiant Hearts is worked up to be a band that recalls `80s Dischord acts like Embrace and Rites of Spring, but truth be told, their first full-length is chock full of average melodic hardcore á la With Honor or a less metallic Shai Hulud. One really shouldn't dismiss Arlington for that reason alone (even though there's so few bands of that aforementioned ilk as it is), but there are some more substantial criticisms that can certainly be drawn towards the album.

It sucks too, because Defiant Hearts is clearly a band that does some things different than their counterparts. The songs are recorded well enough by Jay Maas, the band throw in enough of a variety of riffs and tempos and there's a decent flow about things. However, the songs themselves are completely forgettable, with rarely, if ever, a moment jumping out at the listener. A track like "The Quality of Life" is just missing that something extra despite its mildly difficult structure.

Frontman Josh Rudd's gruff delivery is solid enough, but often bears little range aside from sporadic spoken word parts. He may convey honest personal confessions in decent enough prose, but with a slightly more dynamic musical background occurring behind him, he doesn't seem to keep up.

The few moments Defiant Hearts rises above mediocrity are "Aweigh" and "For Want Of." The former carries a real urgency and compelling flair to the guitars, and the latter is -- you guessed it -- a Rites of Spring cover. While the band's take on the classic tune proves once and for all that RoS' aural influence on them is pretty marginal, Defiant Hearts do a bang-up job, and their segue from the last song, "From Sand to Glass," is clever and impressive.

Perhaps Defiant Hearts are just stuck in the middle. Their intensity just isn't convincing and their sensitive nature barely even graces heartstrings. A nice effort, but better luck next time.

The Quality of Life