Review Summary: Defeater's latest is a more than enjoyable addition to their discography, even if it doesn't quite come together like it should
Modern hardcore as a whole is going through a kind of rebirth at the moment. After indulging in the excesses of the Myspace age, it is once again trying to find its soul. Luckily for fans of the genre, the bands that followed in the footsteps of turn of the millennium groups like Eighteen Visions and their hair metal sins of fashion and indulgence are now dying a slow death, and a new crop of talented bands that are just as concerned about progressing the genre as they are about staying true to their roots has emerged. Out of all of the bands spearheading this new generation of hardcore, Defeater have firmly positioned themselves at the top with their debut Travels
and follow up EP Lost Ground
, both of which follow a unique story telling slant based on in depth character studies.
It seemed that as soon as the final notes from Lost Ground
rang out in many a hardcore kid's stereo, the anticipation for another Defeater album began to build, and when the band decided to release the Dear Father
teaser EP that anticipation reached a fever pitch. But now with a new Defeater album firmly in our grasps, how does Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
fare when put up against their near flawless back catalog? Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
is at its heart very much in tune with the catharsis that brought us Travels
, taking the raw energy and honest emotion of bands like Modern Life Is War, to whom Defeater owe a large chunk of their sound, and melding it with a superb sense of storytelling hardly found in the genre. Unfortunately, for the first time in their career, it seems as though there is something missing. The formula used on Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
is the same blueprint as used on their previous albums, and where Travels
thrived off of its unpredictable nature, the same bobs and weaves don't have the same effect because we've heard them all before. It almost makes every build up seem anticlimactic given that you can see what lies ahead in just over the horizon.
The only real surprise on Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
is Defeater's choice to expand on the moment of acoustic brilliance that was the latter half of “Prophet in Plain Clothes” from Travels
into four tracks of jangly, low key folk songs. Unfortunately these songs come off as more as an afterthought when compared to the first disc of the release. Furthermore, even though vocalist Derek Archambault tries to be another Rocky Votolato or Conor Oberst, it becomes apparent rather quickly that, despite his best efforts, he is neither Rocky Votolato or Conor Oberst.
Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
is a more than solid release, but the pieces never end up coming together quite like they should. One listen to either Lost Ground
shows that Defeater are more than capable of pulling it off, but this time ambition seems to have gotten the best of them.