Defeater
Empty Days and Sleepless Nights


4.5
superb

Review

by Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (69 Reviews)
March 6th, 2011 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Darkly different, Defeater create what could have been the ultimate album but fall just short.

Hardcore bands in recent years have followed a rather reticent formula for success. This formula includes catchy clean vocals, inaudible bass and power chords galore. The formula has led many critics to assert that the genre is dying, but some bands are working hard to bring a Renaissance to hardcore. Defeater is one of them. Since the release of 2008’s Travels, they have proven to be the exception to the rule. Empty Days and Sleepless Nights piggybacks off of Travels and even raises the already high level of ambition. Featuring two discs, the second being just acoustic tracks, Defeater bring a full arsenal and know how to use every weapon at their disposal.

From the start of Empty Days, it’s clear that Defeater don’t play by the rules. The vocals hit hard and fast with Mike Poulin’s bass at the forefront of the mix. Once the guitars kick in, it’s impossible not to be consumed by the mood which, in true Defeater fashion, is dark. The track sees four time changes, which defies convention of the traditional ¾ signature utilized in hardcore. Clever rests in the middle of verses allow for the changes in signature, which are used instead of a clean vocalist to indicate changes in theme within tracks. These changes allow for experimentation for guitarists Jay Maas and Jake Woodruff and are accented by Andy Reitz’s tight drum work. All three of these musicians are top of the line and have a great deal of polish in a genre complacent with power chord laden verses. The only member of the group that sounds lumped in with their contemporaries is vocalist Derek Archambault.

Archambault’s vocals are pretty standard for the genre, and quite similar to I Set My Friends on Fire’s Matt Mihana, but never wear on the listener. The thing that differentiates him from the rest of the pack is the lyrics. Their lyrics, unlike those of many other groups, tell stories and forgo simply imparting a standard God is great message found on many other albums. In fact, they take the opposite stance, proclaiming, There is no God/No one can save her, on “Quiet the Longing”. These dark lyrics fit the atmosphere perfectly and rarely drift from the theme of helplessness and pain. Cemetery Walls, the darkest track of the album that also features the best work of the rhythm section, Poulin in particular, is a story about someone losing a family member and wishing that he or she was dead instead. The incessant darkness of the album never wears on the listener though because it is so artfully told, a feat few other bands would be able to accomplish. Overall, the first disc is without a weak track, and, were it a stand-alone album, would be a classic album.

However, Defeater got a little too ambitious with the second disc. While it only has four songs on it, it still leaves one to wonder why they undertook an acoustic venture. The clean vocals are very weak and lack the spirit that gives the harsh vocals its effectiveness. The lyrics don’t suffer at all on the acoustic disc but lack of room for experimentation by the guitars and absence of the rhythm section make the second disc forgettable, especially when compared to the first disc. This isn’t to say that the songs are bad, Headstone is one of the best songs on the album, but they aren’t as rounded as the ones on the first disc. Despite the shortcomings of the songs, it was still a breath of fresh to hear an acoustic song done by a hardcore band that didn’t involve overtly cheesy lyrics and didn’t disrupt the flow of the album.

Overall, Defeater has crafted an extremely good album that should be put alongside La Dispute’s Somewhere at the Bottom of a River as one of the best albums in the blanket hardcore genre. Full of ambition, almost to a fault, Empty Days and Sleepless Nights features some of the best musicianship and lyrics of the last few years in any genre. This album is nearly flawless.

Recommended Tracks- Warm Blood Rush, White Knuckles, Quiet the Longing, Headstone



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


23970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

paragraphs

that is all

Digging: Taylor Swift - 1989

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


23970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pretty bad recommendation too. La Dispute and this are pretty different...

KILL
March 6th 2011


72086 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

good review

Digging: Steve Hackett - Out of the Tunnel's Mouth

ConsiderPhlebas
March 6th 2011


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

a standard God is great message found on many other albums.




What hardcore are you listening to?

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


9064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fixed, Copy and Paste apparently eliminates spaces and italics. And dude, ripping on the rec? Did you just get dumped or something?


FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


9064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ Phlebas, TDWP, Underoath, Attack Attack!, pretty standard introductory hardcore shit that used to be my jam

ConsiderPhlebas
March 6th 2011


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

All three of these instrumentalists





Instrumentalists are people that follow the philosophy of instrumentalism, which has nothing to do with music. People that play instruments are musicians.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


9064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks dude

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


7401 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yaay this is finally down to 4.3. Reality starting to kick in.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


9064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ok, this isn't as good as the Adam Thomas review but certainly not an 0 for 3 review. Come on anonymous community members.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


23970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love La Dispute, I just think it's a horrible rec for this album.

Spec
March 6th 2011


27271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Darkly Different.

YES

Digging: Midnight - No Mercy for Mayhem

wyankeif1337
March 6th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

so the average for this is lower than travels

this annoys me, gonna 5 with alts now

Spec
March 6th 2011


27271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No kidding eh. When it was a 4.5, it was correct.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


9064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I still 5 Hinder albums with my main

Spec
March 6th 2011


27271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still 5 Hinder albums with my main [2]

DinoX
March 6th 2011


3582 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

wow wow wow did you compare Defeater to I Set My Friends On Fire?

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011


9064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No, I compared the vocals to I Set My Friends On Fire. They actually sound really similar

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2011


7318 Comments


Solid review. You get too much into the details (e.g time signatures, etc) early on, which causes the interest level to drop off a bit (no one really wants to know a song's time signature) but the review then plateaus off into a modicum of stability. I've read some of your other reviews before, and this is probably one of your best in a while.

Keep it up. Pos.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy



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