Defeater
Empty Days and Sleepless Nights


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dante Alighieri USER (85 Reviews)
March 8th, 2011 | 73 replies | 7,091 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist


The amount of hype that has been stirring for Defeaters sophomore album, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights, is borderlining on the ridiculous. You really got to hand it to Defeaters current label, Bridge 9; they basically took all the initial hype that the band had generated with Travels, and essentially quadrupled it for Empty Days & Sleepless Nights. Strategies like the release of Lost Ground, then the album sampler EP, Dear Father, are making fans practically chomping at the bit for the release of their sophomore album. This can be seen as a two-edged sword, one side yielding the edge necessary to come out the victor, the other capable of backlash. This was the case for The Carrier’s sophomore album, in which they failed to capitalize on their hype. But now it’s Defeaters turn and to sum it up, they have pierced through flesh and bone, and straight down to our souls with the release of Empty Days & Sleepless Nights.

Empty Days
While it is still way too early to make any lasting judgments, it won’t be surprising if the ten-track LP, Empty Days, goes down as one of the best hardcore albums in the modern era. Typical of Defeater, first song, ‘Warm Blood Rush’, doesn’t give the listener any time to prepare as it wastes no time in delving into the story arch that Defeater has been painstakingly creating since inception. Taken from the viewpoint of the opposite younger brother from Travels, Empty Days is a much bleaker affair than the debut album, as if it were any more possible. Touching upon the subjects of alcoholism, a drug addicted mother, the sins of the father, love found and, ultimately, love lost, Empty Days owes a huge debt of gratitude to the story established throughout Defeaters discography. In a sense, the storyline of Empty Days is a no-brainer, given the themes and structure of Travels. But don’t take this the wrong way, of course, as it doesn’t necessarily handicap the album in any way.

‘Dear Father’, coupled with following track, ‘Waves Crash, Clouds Roll’, could very well be two of the greatest hardcore songs the past decade has heard. Taking direct inspiration from acts such as Modern Life is War and The Effort; these tracks follow a very lo-fi approach to the genre that, married with lyrics of the death of the father and the subsequent consequences of such, yet again adds to the overall dark atmosphere of Empty Days. The driving drumming and the crashing palm-mutes felt on ‘Waves Crash, Clouds Roll’ perfectly amplify the already bursting emotion from the front man. A surprising theme of love found is touched upon in ‘Empty Glass’, featuring ‘hole-in-the-wall’, dive-bar, the Copper Coin. This strangely positive storyline only helps compound the feeling of loss in ‘White Knuckles’, where that love is tragically, and violently, ended. It’s easy to get lost in the story that has been created, a gimmick on Defeaters part that has been capitalized and hyped upon. There is no denying the storytelling talents of vocalist Derek Archambault; he’s no Mark Twain, mind you, but in this day and age of the same lyrical topics like straight-edge lifestyles, and heavy religious subjects, he is more than just a deep, heavy breath of fresh, crisp air.

But let’s be honest; Archambault tends to eclipse all elements of Defeater. This doesn’t hinder the exceptional talents that the rest of the band possesses, but it does take the attention away from the band in some ways. ‘No Kind of Home, ‘Cemetery Walls’, and ‘At Peace’ carry the storyline nigh perfectly, yet these are examples of what happens when the talents of one individual member of the band tends to overshadow the rest of a group. But we can also be rest assured by this fact that Empty Days carries as well: the fact that while these problems might be present, they are seemingly trivial in the overall scheme of the album. Small nitpicks in an LP that is nearly pure gold for a genre. But probably the most controversial move on Empty Days is final track ‘White Oak Doors’. Following a sonic formula similar to the concluding song of Modern Life is War’s sophomore albums closer, ‘White Oak Doors’ once again follows a lo-fi, reverb heavy assault that builds and builds and builds, with the main protagonist finally confronting the brother that abandoned his family, leaving our hero to fend for both himself and his ailing mother. The tone of the song becomes more dramatic with a final showdown on the rail tracks; the buildup becomes extremely tense, yet right when there is final catharsis the track abruptly ends. True, the storyline from the song calls for this type of ending, but like a cut off message to a very important voicemail, it doesn’t help the feeling of ultimate disappointment to the song. It will clearly serve as a dividing line between listeners and fans of Defeater.

Ultimately, Empty Days can be seen as a crowning achievement for Defeater. After the praise and accomplishments that the band did with Travels, it’s almost incomprehensible that a band has finally been able to take all the hype that has been thrown at them and actually prove to be up to par with it. Other, greater bands have fallen from this same type of marketing, but Defeater have shattered all expectation with Empty Days and made an album for the ages in doing so.

Sleepless Nights
While officially packaged as a single release, Defeaters sophomore album is actually split into two separate parts, one featuring a more traditional hardcore release titled Empty Days, the second a four-track EP titled, Sleepless Nights. Probably the main reason for the separation is the fact that Sleepless Nights is an acoustic ballad more akin to Rocky Volotado and Bob Dylan-like. For those who have yet to hear Defeater, or are familiar with a more classic approach to hardcore, this might come off as quite a shocking surprise and surprising it is. Once again, coming into the foray as the main head of the band, Derek Archambault leads with exceptional vocal talents that have, for the most part, been previously untouched in Defeater. His high-strung lullabies carry an honest timbre to them that makes the EP very easy to fall in love with.

But Sleepless Nights, on its own, is by no means perfect. An honest, border lining playful release, it showcases a whole new side of Defeater that is fun to listen to, but unimpressive when compared to the greats of the genre that Defeater is experimenting with. The subject matter of the EP follows the same story of Defeaters full-lengths yet puts them into the first person, as if Archambault embodies the soul of the brother playing along with the guitar. It’s an impressive effort that makes the subject matters a bit more relatable, as compared to the distant story telling of Travels and Empty Days. Truth be told, it almost seems unfair to use this EP as a sore thumb, but Sleepless Nights just fails to capture the nigh-perfection that Empty Days carries. The bright light that shines on their full length only helps to further accentuate the flaws of Sleepless Nights, making it seem quite a bit dimmer. No one will fault Defeater, or Sleepless Nights at that, for the ambition that was put into the creation of the EP; hell, ‘I Don’t Mind’ will undoubtedly get massive replays for its playful, more positive lyrics, but it should also be unsurprising that the EP is completely eclipsed by the previous LP.

Overall
When finally added together as one coherent release, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights is an album that attempts to reinvent the wheel and just marginally almost does exactly that. It’s quite amazing that with such a level of hype, a band has been able to successfully ride its wave in under two full-lengths yet Defeater have done just that. The passion, emotion and raw intensity that is witnessed throughout the album borderlines on the immaculate: not just a simple progression of musical ability that some bands can accomplish on their sophomore albums. The story created on Travels has come full circle on Empty Nights, and while relying quite a bit on the plot lines of their debut, Empty Nights is a much more visceral, darker and desperate affair than its predecessor. Yet while it seems more like fishing for faults than anything else, Sleepless Nights, when combined with Empty Days into one album, hamstrings the whole listen: a different, more radical approach, yes, but not without its faults. In the end, even with its faults, Defeater's sophomore album serves as one that will most likely go down as one of the premier hardcore releases in recent memory.



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user ratings (1162)
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3.9
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Comments:Add a Comment 
cvlts
March 8th 2011


8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

holy coding error

ShadowRemains
March 8th 2011


20687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol

Digging: Banks - Goddess

BallsToTheWall
March 8th 2011


44294 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

If this was a regular jacknobs review I would neg this without reason or hesitation.

Digging: Tiamat - Clouds

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2011


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

TOO MANY REVIEWSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

cvlts
March 8th 2011


8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

anyone who thought i wouldnt review this is all kinds of stupid, tbh

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2011


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's what I told Phebas and he told me to suck his balls, so I don't see it happening

Slum
March 8th 2011


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i agree

BallsToTheWall
March 8th 2011


44294 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Sucks

ConsiderPhlebas
March 8th 2011


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

2 review pending

SloppyMilkshake
March 8th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yusssssssss^^^

ConsiderPhlebas
March 8th 2011


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Derek Archambault leads with acceptable vocal talents that have, for the most part, been previously untouched in Defeater




Gotta love those acceptable vocals

Hep Kat
March 8th 2011


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

not worth the mounds of hyperbolic claim it receives


album just isn't intelligent dance music, and is easily understood because of it

cvlts
March 8th 2011


8954 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"Gotta love those acceptable vocals"

i hate Word

Slum
March 8th 2011


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The capacity of human intelligence seems to limit the capabilities to expand upon any possible creative aptitudes. Indeed, if one cannot even notice the facets that the ingenuities around him are comprised of, how can he be expected to fashion a beast of his own? This inveterate sense of constraint is a great blow to the veracity of mankind’s abilities. It restrains us and holds our minds to the ground below, averting any possibility of rising above ourselves to something greater; something not fathomed by the conventional mind. This concept of seeking to go beyond one’s self, known as “transcendence”, is essentially a gateway to unlocking pieces of ourselves that can lead to some of the most elaborate and significant creations of our world. For many, this quest to transcend and form creations that were once considered unthinkable and overwhelming consumes life. Certainly it is rare to find such people, but when they are found, creative barriers are destroyed.

ConsiderPhlebas
March 8th 2011


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Is that one of their good songs, because I don't ever want to hear a bad one if it is

Deathcar
March 8th 2011


1534 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review, nailed it. This is realistically a 4 or 4.5 at best, but it's gotten some real emotional meaning in the last two weeks, so it's a 5 for me personally.

It slightly saddens me how the hype-train on this is threatening to make people overlook it or judge it unfairly, and miss out on a fantastic album as a result.

Narshh
March 8th 2011


1186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

great review, but i think the view point is from the older brother in travels isn't it? the guy in travels was the younger brother and this time its the older one

kingjulian
March 8th 2011


1297 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Every time I see this in the review section I think it's Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me for a second.

chesse13
March 8th 2011


2992 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

still have not listened to this. it can wait

Digging: Medications - Medications

BassDemon333
March 8th 2011


3376 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Now THIS is the best review for EDSN on Sputnik.

Digging: Mudvayne - L.D. 50



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