Defeater – Letters Home


Artist

Album

Letters Home

Label

Bridge Nine Records

Year

2013

Genre

For Fans Of

La Dispute - Touche Amore

Summary

Massachusetts hardcore band's best release yet.

Rating

95 / 100

It’s incredibly ambitious for a band to weave a continuous storyline into every one of their release, and still maintain a high level of interest throughout every single release. But, then again, Defeater are an ambitious bunch of guys. Each of the band’s releases centres around the story of an American family in the time of the second World War, with the most recent addition being ‘Letters Home,’ and it is probably the best addition yet.

From the moment Derek Archambault lets out his first scream of, “I hope this finds you well!” in opening track ‘Bastards,’ he makes it clear that he is an incredibly passionate vocalist. In fact, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that Archambault puts more emotion into his vocals than you can expect most other vocalists to even attempt, and the music is built around this.

There is no point on the record at which any other band members really take the spotlight in any massive ways, but then again, that’s kind of the point. I mean, it wouldn’t be unexpected for guitarists Jay Maas and Jake Woodruff to play something that, in a live context, would have all eyes on them, but it would certainly detract from the story being told. Rather, each of the band members play parts that blend together so seamlessly in order to create a fantastic framework for the vocals to tell the story.

There are a number of different approaches to this that are taken on the record. You’ve got your heavy, machine-gunfire pace hardcore songs, such as ‘Hopeless Again,’ or ‘No Shame.’ You’ve got your mid-tempo songs that basically thrive off of the fantastic vocal work such as album opener, ‘Bastards,’ and then still you’ve got slower, more cathartic and emotional songs, such as ‘Dead Set,’ and ‘No Savior.’

Lyrically, the songs explore themes of anguish, loss, religion, and hardship, just to name a few. With Archambault‘s intense, passionate delivery these lyrics are really brought to life as well. If you were to listen to the way he is singing lyrics like, “My broken spirit and back. My calloused shaking hands. The ache I carry in me. My grief and skeletons,” or “Dear hope I lost you, found solace in a bottle. Now I’m a mother’s only son,” and not feel anything, then you’d have to be just about completely emotionless.

Conclusion

‘Letters Home’ is an absolutely beautiful record. The beauty isn’t found in the amazing skill levels of the band as musicians, but their incredible ability as songwriters and composers, with both the music and lyrics intertwining to create something that pushes out more emotion than most bands would put forth in their entire career. If you lean towards the more emotional side of hardcore music, you need to have this album.

Tracklisting

  1. Bastards
  2. No Shame
  3. Hopeless Again
  4. Blood In My Veins
  5. No Relief
  6. No Faith
  7. Deadset
  8. No Savior
  9. Rabbit Foot
  10. Bled Out

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