Defeater - Lost Ground (Cover Artwork)


Lost Ground (2009)

Bridge Nine

So, I've always been incredibly skeptical of concept albums. Certain mediums excel at presenting a compelling and cohesive narrative; others, while they are capable of having narrative elements, only tend to serve up a fractal story at best. I can think of a few concept albums which I thought were great records, but I didn't have a high opinion of those records necessarily because I thought that they told a compelling story. That being said, ever since I first heard Defeater's Travels, I've been rethinking that opinion.

Lost Ground is about as strong a followup to Travels as I could have hopedfor. Once again, Defeater is pushing contemporary hardcore into artistic challenging territory. There really isn't a single moment on Lost Ground when the band relies on any of the standard hardcore tropes that saturate the genre. Tempos vary from driving to meandering half-times reminiscent of Modern Life Is War at their best.

Once again, the vocals are raw and almost desperate sounding, which really imbues the record with a sense of urgency regardless of how fast or slow certain songs are. On Travels, the drumming was staggeringly impressive, but at times seemed a bit overwrought and all over the place. On Lost Ground, the creativity and impressiveness is still there, but the drumming feels a bit more calculated and tailored to what the rest of the band is playing.

The first track, "The Red, White and Blues," might be one of my favorite opening tracks off of any hardcore record in recent memory. Its upbeat tempo and driving guitars come to a sudden stop at about a minute-fifty into the songs, giving way to a slow and crushing drum-and-vocal break. The second track, and possibly my favorite song on the EP, titled "The Bite and Sting," has a waltz beat behind it, and I shit you not, it works. "Singin' New York Town" is probably the one track on the record that is most reminiscent of Travels, but it is still pretty far away from being a retread.

All in all, Lost Ground will have you counting the proverbial days to the release of the next Defeater full-length. Hell, even if you haven't enjoyed a hardcore record since Age of Quarrel, you may still love Lost Ground simply because it doesn't succumb to the stale pitfalls of the genre; there are no unnecessary breakdowns, no posturing. There is absolutely no moment when Lost Ground feels pretentious, or anything less than sincere.