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Defeater - Letters Home Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 9
Production 9
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 90%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.25
Musicianship 7.79
Lyrics 8.75
Production 8.14
Creativity 7.82
Lasting Value 8.21
Reviewer Tilt 8.21
Average: 82%
Inside AP.net

Defeater - Letters Home

Reviewed by: Kelly Doherty (08/16/13)
Defeater - Letters Home
Record Label: Bridge Nine Records
Release Date: July 15, 2013


There’s nothing like that one band that keeps your interest in a genre. Whilst fifteen year old me could quote Bridge Nine Records’ roster as a list of my favourite bands, in recent times hardcore punk has become less and less important in my life. Reasons such as growing up and feeling a little less angry are entirely legitimate explanations for this change, however, honestly, I got bored of bands trying to be as tough as possible and associating everything with pride and silliness like that. But then Defeater released Empty Days & Sleepless Nights and that changed. Where their work before had always been top notch, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights was the sound of a band at the pinnacle of their career. Never had sadness sounded so angry, the lyrics of “White Oak Doors” were not merely clumsy poetry set to a melody, they were the words of a brain shutting down. It was fourteen tracks filled with drama and, in a way, pomp, but it managed to feel raw and powerful and sincere. One straight listen through the record had the capacity to leave a fan breathless and exhausted, covered in goosebumps. It was as close as one could come to being the perfect album.

Two years and four months later, the Massachusetts band return to the fore with Letters Home. And I was nervous as hell. How could they possibly top Empty Days & Sleepless Nights? How could they possibly release an album anywhere close to it? So, I’ve had a month to form opinions. It’s been a month of late night listens and, well, I’ve had the type of month that Defeater’s music is created to soundtrack. The decision I’ve made? Letters Home is the best album that heavy music will provide to the world this year.

Letters Home isn’t as complex and all consuming as Empty Days & Sleepless Nights. Whilst its predecessor showed a more experimental side of the band, Letters Home is a trip back to Defeater’s early days with many lessons learned from their forays forward. A slimmer running time spread over ten tracks, this is a record filled with blistering hardcore, typically Defeater-esque emotional lyricism and the standard we’ve come to expect from one of the world’s best punk bands. The storyline of a dysfunctional family being destroyed by the Second World War is still in play, however unlike previous releases, Letters Home feels less involved in storylines and more focused on the individual track themselves. It feels a little like the band are trying to put an end to the story and maybe that’s for the best. The songs themselves are brutal and emotive. From album highlight and opener, “Bastards” to the discordant closer “Bled Out”, Defeater never stop for breath. There is no rest, no acoustic sensibilities, just all out war on the listener’s ears.

The band are as good as ever before. The aforementioned “Bastards” is one of the best songs in their catalogue. Punchy and thrilling, it’s a straight up old school hardcore song, but with an almost catchy air to it. Featuring one of the most memorable lines on the record, “And still all I see is that bastard in me”, it’s a fitting start and continuum from “Headstone”. “No Shame” is similarly brutal. Filled with genuinely startling lyrics ("The man who laid with my wife/ Lays at the bottom of that river where the sun never shines” being a particularly dark one) and the usual mid paced, intelligible flow of Derek Archambault. Lyrically the band are head and shoulders above the majority of their peers. The dark hopelessness permeates everything and a quick read of a lyrics booklet makes Plath seem a little like The Magnetic Fields. Instrumentally, the band aren’t at their most exciting and there’s very little to be taken aback by, however to desire that would be to miss the point of Letters Home. This is a DIY album, a straight up album made for angry tears. Anything different would be doing battle with its predecessor and would leave the band with little room for progression in the future.

So, yes, various corners of the interweb made statements about how Defeater have taken a step backwards etc, etc. I agree. They have taken a supermassive step backwards, but backwards was the right direction for them. Tracks like “No Savior” and “Bled Out” are better than anything the band has done before, based on their relative simplicity and raw power. With Archambault’s vocal performance stronger than ever before, the band sounding fresh and the lyrics seemingly closing out this chapter in their career, Letters Home is one of the most thrilling albums they could have created. The future remains dark for Defeater but that’s the way it’s meant to be.

Recommended If You LikeHave Heart; Pianos Become The Teeth; Touché Amoré; music with the capacity to give you nightmares but in a 'oh! that's scary' way rather than in a Rebecca Black way


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

Highlights
Bastards, No Shame, No Savior, Bled Out

9/10

Band Members
Derek- Vocals
Jay- Guitar/vocals
Jake- Guitar
Mike- Bass
Joe- Drums

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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 36
05:29 AM on 08/16/13
#2
JayDanielHammer
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You trickster!


Seriously, the last 4 songs in succession are magical. I love this album so much.
05:36 AM on 08/16/13
#3
Kelly Doherty
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You trickster!


Seriously, the last 4 songs in succession are magical. I love this album so much.
Is it less than 36 hours?

Agreed.
06:10 AM on 08/16/13
#4
theotheryabs
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The album was called Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
06:11 AM on 08/16/13
#5
RiCCioLi
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Album is fantastic, but Im still trying to put the story together. Can someone sum it up for me?
06:16 AM on 08/16/13
#6
WeltallAY
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I don't mean to be condescending but it surprises me how a 15 year old could be so familiar with B9 and this genre. Just interesting I suppose. I keep hearing great things about this band but maybe having been around the genre for so long it doesn't do a ton for me.
06:18 AM on 08/16/13
#7
Vance Mook
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Excellent review! It's a Defeater record, so...you know what you're getting. Not a lot of surprise there, but it's damn good and I wouldn't fix what isn't broken.
06:41 AM on 08/16/13
#8
Kelly Doherty
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The album was called Empty Days and Sleepless Nights

Oh wow. I feel fraudulent.

I don't mean to be condescending but it surprises me how a 15 year old could be so familiar with B9 and this genre. Just interesting I suppose. I keep hearing great things about this band but maybe having been around the genre for so long it doesn't do a ton for me.

Sure, I became a staff member here at 17. Strangely enough, I got into it through Hayley Williams. She was a big H2O and American Nightmare fan and she used to post occasionally about them on her Livejournal. And then a bit after that, Bane, Madball and Have Heart from Chad Gilbert taking about them in interviews. From those starter points, my interest just grew.

Oh yeah, and don't forget International Superheroes Of Hardcore.
06:53 AM on 08/16/13
#9
absintheparty9
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The raw power of "No Savior" is off the charts. My favorite song I've heard all year. Solid review!
07:07 AM on 08/16/13
theherox
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I'm completely with you on the first sentence of this review, 100%
07:21 AM on 08/16/13
Thursdaysox
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this album fucking rules
07:43 AM on 08/16/13
tottivillarossi
these pretzels are makin me thirsty
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Some parts of the review seem a bit confusing to me. Like this:

"Instrumentally, the band aren’t at their most exciting and there’s very little to be taken aback by, however to desire that would be to miss the point of Letters Home. This is a DIY album, a straight up album made for angry tears. Anything different would be doing battle with its predecessor and would leave the band with little room for progression in the future."


The first part of the first sentence is okay, but then in the third sentence you go on to imply that the band have deliberately and consciously chosen to not write an album as good as the one that came before it, as though they're resting on their laurels. Is that badly worded, misinterpreted, or are you saying the band didn't want to write the best album they possibly could?

And I think you could take that second sentence out entirely.



I thought this album was kinda plain, personally. The musicianship feels a lot more deliberate, whereas I preferred the more cathartic outbursts of Empty Days.
08:14 AM on 08/16/13
Jaytothesyg
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This album rules and this band is so great live. I don't think they're done with the story line yet though. I feel like the next album will be about the mom at least that seems to make the most sense
08:16 AM on 08/16/13
WhatJulianSaid
News on Once the Clouds are Gone
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Some parts of the review seem a bit confusing to me. Like this:

"Instrumentally, the band aren’t at their most exciting and there’s very little to be taken aback by, however to desire that would be to miss the point of Letters Home. This is a DIY album, a straight up album made for angry tears. Anything different would be doing battle with its predecessor and would leave the band with little room for progression in the future."


The first part of the first sentence is okay, but then in the third sentence you go on to imply that the band have deliberately and consciously chosen to not write an album as good as the one that came before it, as though they're resting on their laurels. Is that badly worded, misinterpreted, or are you saying the band didn't want to write the best album they possibly could?

And I think you could take that second sentence out entirely.



I thought this album was kinda plain, personally. The musicianship feels a lot more deliberate, whereas I preferred the more cathartic outbursts of Empty Days.
I pretty much agree with you, I was working out to it the other day and it didn't reach me the same way any of the other releases did. It's not a bad album but it didn't hit me nearly the same as Travels or Empty Days did at first listen so it's kind of mediocre in my book.
09:07 AM on 08/16/13
Ryan Gardner
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This album is incredible.
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