Defeater
Empty Days and Sleepless Nights


4.5
superb

Review

by Adrian Hertzberg CONTRIBUTOR (31 Reviews)
March 15th, 2011 | 118 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A lot of people are accusing Defeater of beating a dead horse with their third release Empty Days and Sleepless Nights, and they’re not exactly wrong. But some horses make a really good sound when you hit them, so why stop?

The hype around this band, both good and bad, is overwhelming. So let’s be quite clear about this. This review will not dissect and analyze Defeater’s 2011 album Empty Days and Sleepless Nights. I’m not going to tell you that “the guitars are crushing” or say “it’s overflowing with so much emotion that my brain hurts” and go on and on and on and on making hyperbolic, ridiculous claims about how Defeater are “peerless” and how Defeater are “the best”. Nobody likes that, and it’s been done. Instead, I’m going to focus on the concept, and why I like it.

For the uninitiated, Defeater is a melodic hardcore band from Boston. Their debut LP, 2008’s Travels, introduced us to the conceptual lyrical approach that Defeater would later become defined by. The lyrics from both Travels and their 2009 EP Lost Ground tell detailed wartime stories. Travels is a rich and detailed story about a father and his two sons(none of them have names, or they aren’t known). I won’t go into the story of Travels here, but just know that it exists.

Empty Days and Sleepless Nights is the follow-up to Travels and has a concept of its own, sort of. Empty Days is told through the eyes of one of the sons, let’s call him Gus. I’m not quite 100% on the some of the details, but the story goes like this: Gus’ brother, we’ll call him Günter, has just killed their alcoholic, abusive father, we’ll call him Ganondorf, and run away. Gus can hardly start the shame and rage he feels. He is left alone to care for his mother, let’s go with Gertrude for her, whose heroin addiction grows worse after Ganondorf’s funeral. Gus swears revenge on Günter, if he ever returns.

Time goes by and Gus grows more bitter and angry. He “grows up,” but starts to drink way too much, mostly to cope with his Gertrude’s addiction. He meets a girl, we’ll call her Gaga, and marries her. They settle down, but he is never happy. His drinking gets worse and his relationship with Gaga deteriorates. Meanwhile, a bookie, we’ll call him Garfield, continues to harass Gus about Ganondorf’s debts which were unpaid at the time of his death. Gus dismisses Garfield, telling him that his father’s business is none of his problem. Well, Garfield doesn’t like that too much. One night, after a particularly bad drunken rage, Gus returns home to find Gaga in a pool of blood. Garfield has taken her life as a punishment for Ganondorf’s outstanding debts.

So more shame, more rage, Gus is in pretty rough shape. Then, Gertrude dies and Gus is left completely alone, waiting for his brother to return or death, whichever comes quickest.

One day, Günter finally returns and Gus greets him with the barrel of his shotgun. He marches him down to the same train tracks where the two of them used to dodge trains, screaming at him the whole time about what he has done and the pain he has caused. He forces Günter’s head against the train track and points the shotgun at his skull, waiting for the train. The train is coming fast, it’s almost there, when Günter mans up and pulls the ol’ switcheroo on Gus. At first, Gus is terrified and nervous, but as the train approaches even closer, the deafening roar calms him and he accepts his fate. A fitting end to a life filled with bitterness and regret.

At this point, we’re near the end of track 10 of 14, White Oak Doors. The song cuts of, in mid-sentence, mid-bar, riff, jam, mid-everything, as the train hits and kills both brothers. Like it or hate it, that’s the end of the story. For the record, I freaking love it.

The acoustic tracks, titled Sleepless Nights, show that Defeater has an accessible side to their music, in that many people who don’t enjoy hardcore at all can still enjoy them. The songs provide some background information about the two brothers, mostly stories of them growing up together. Some see Sleepless Nights as a supplement to the “main album,” Empty Days, but I look at it more as the resolution after the climax of a story, four easy-to-digest, breezy acoustic songs. Just what the doctor ordered after a brutal train murder scene.

The music that accompanies the story (or perhaps it’s the other way around) is what one would expect from a Defeater album. It conveys the emotion of the lyrics very well, becoming more aggressive during Gus’s several rages, and more melodic during the calmer parts of the story, such as in Empty Glass, when Gus and Gaga meet each other. Defeater’s musical side is equally as engrossing as the story it is set behind. One aspect that stands out in particular is the superb drumming, notably on Empty Glass. The guitar lines throughout are driving, and melodically structured to go fit the shifting tone of the album.

But in the end, the concept is the divisive factor with this album. Some have accused Defeater of beating a dead horse with this, their third war-themed concept album, and they aren’t exactly wrong. But why mess with a winning formula? Forgive me for the terrible reference, but if Amon Amarth can get away with telling the same cheesy-yet-epic tales of Viking war and mead-drinking, why can’t Defeater stick with a theme? If it’s well-executed then who cares?

And that seems to be the only question for you, the individual listener. Are you on board with Defeater’s whole gig? I’m the last person to say that this is the second coming of Jesus, the pinnacle of hardcore music, blah blah blah. Personally, I think this is a phenomenal piece of music with a gripping concept. But what about you? Do you like the story? Do you think the concept is well executed? Does the music make you want to scream and dance in the middle of a crowded street? If your answer is yes, come join the fanclub. It’s great; we’ve got fruit punch. If your answer is no, go away, I’m listening to Defeater.

Recommended Tracks:
-Empty Glass
-Cemetery Walls
-White Oak Doors
-I Don't Mind



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user ratings (1163)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

few things (ok, like 6 things):

1. Goodbye approval rating
2. I like Amon Amarth haha. I haven’t heard the leak of the new one yet but I will soon.
3. The 5 at the top of the review is my personal rating. I know I didn’t do the greatest job justifying it, but I wanted to take a different approach because pretty much everything that can be said about this album has been said a hundred times
4. This is right now, and probably will be at the end of the year my album of 2011 (unless Goblin is HUGE, which it might be), so I obviously have a huge crush on it. I think the claims like “peerless” and stuff are stupid (More Than Life has a new album coming out soon, you ingrates) but don’t disagree that this is phenomenal, obviously.
5. tl;dr
6. Have you guys heard of this band Defeater?


ConsiderPhlebas
March 15th 2011


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

If you ever have kids let your missus choose the names

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you don't think Ganondorf is a nice name for a little squirt?

ConsiderPhlebas
March 15th 2011


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

If you mean a dwarf then yes

Blaizend
March 15th 2011


647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. People hatin' on the album to be cool.

EleanorRigby
March 15th 2011


156 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

sweet review

people giving the album a 5 to look cool more like I DO NOT CONFORM im casted out i know this

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

his brother will be named Link, and I will make them battle each other while their sister Zelda looks on

or maybe I should stick with g names hmm

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no one should be rating anything to look cool, rate it what you think it is.

Hep Kat
March 15th 2011


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

new amon amarth sucks like this does


pos






i guess

EleanorRigby
March 15th 2011


156 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

stop trolling hep!

Hep Kat
March 15th 2011


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

who are you vaginaface

Spec
March 15th 2011


27179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pos because you gave it a five.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ohhhhhhh look at all the lonely people

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2011


17215 Comments


...

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

...

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ohhhhhhhhhhhhh

FREAK OUT!

letsgofishing
March 15th 2011


902 Comments


As a individual who actually really isn't that into Defeater, this review just doesn't work for me.

I understand the fanboy's impulse to masturbate all over concept albums, but as a person who simply doesn't care, I really didn't have the patience to read 6 paragraphs detailing a pretty lackluster story. Not to mention half it just reads like undisciplined rambling. There is such a thing as being casual, and then there's such a thing as just being lazy.

and by the way that "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS" made me go "NOOOOOOOOOOOO"

in fact the only saving point of this review is you actually were geek enough to name one of the characters "Ganondorf" which is such a dweeb move that I have no choice but to give this review a POS.

Congrats.

Narshh
March 15th 2011


1186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

fun read haha i posd but one thing, the train tracks wasn't where Gunter killed Ganondorf, its just where Gunter and Gus used to dodge trains. Ganandorf was killed at home during a familial dispute. i think Gunter was just visiting the house and then Gus saw him and flipped and led him to the tracks and then ya kno'...train ran over Gus and whatnot

Slum
March 15th 2011


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

can just get rid of that first paragraph

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 15th 2011


23845 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I really didn't have the patience to read 6 paragraphs detailing a pretty lackluster story"

then don't, there's tonnes of reviews I click on then decide not to read

"There is such a thing as being casual, and then there's such a thing as just being lazy."

and there's also such a thing called sputnikmusic which is where you can post whatever you want so long as it's not spam.

"in fact the only saving point of this review is you actually were geek enough to name one of the characters "Ganondorf" which is such a dweeb move that I have no choice but to give this review a POS. "

hahahaha, thank you?

I appreciate the criticisms though, I knew this review was a little out there when I went for it. I didn't plan on posting it here until I was almost finished writing it.






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