Review Summary: And still all I see is that bastard in me
The saga continues, yes the melodic hardcore band with a penchant for storytelling known as Defeater have released yet another concept album about an angry white man in his early 20s, and this time they went all George Lucas on us and made it a prequel about the wife beating father of the boys from the previous albums when he was younger. What they should have learned from the Star Wars prequels is that no one cares what the villain of your story was like when he was young. We don't need to see that he was an angry white twenty something year old just like his kids, we could have easily inferred that for ourselves. While Defeater's previous album Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
story about the brother of their debut album Travel's
protagonist was interesting because it was the other side of the Travels'
coin that repeated some of the same events, but from a different point of view, the story of the characters' dad has no logical connection to the other two stories and is simply not worth telling. With all that being said, an album that has a lot going on musically could easily be forgiven for its unnecessary story and uninteresting lyrics, but unfortunately Defeater's third full length album Letters Home
is as uninteresting musically as it is lyrically and conceptually.
The biggest problem with Letters Home
is that very few of the album's ten tracks stand out at all. The opener "Bastards" is excellent with its frantic pace, great guitar riffs, and catchy refrain "And still all I see is that bastard in me," but none of the succeeding tracks even come close to being as good as the opener. "No Saviour" stands out because it sounds the least like Defeater of all the tracks on the album, but that doesn't make it a good song. It starts off with melodic and emotional guitar chords that build up and explode when the rest of the band comes in, and of course it all breaks down halfway into the track, and it all just comes off as a typical emo tinged melodic hardcore salad with Touche Amore light dressing added on top. The overly long, drawn out closer "Bled Out" is the most disappointing of all the tracks on Letters Home.
It's a really slow track that has this really simple main guitar riff that just drones on for six minutes with not a lot of dynamics, and it just doesn't cut it considering Defeater's history of excellent album closers. A couple songs such as "No Shame" and "Dead Set" slow things down in an attempt to try something new, but these tracks like most other tracks on Letters Home
lack anything interesting musically and drone on as boring background noise. Ultimately, Letters Home
is about as average as a melodic hardcore record could be, and it is less fast, less melodic, less emotional, less creative, and most of all, less interesting than all of Defeater's previous albums combined.