Review Summary: Either out of confidence or resignation, this is Defeater doing Defeater.
For a band that takes itself as seriously as Defeater, it sure is easy to make fun of them. There's the meme-ification of their reused lyrics, the complete and utter stagnation of their sound as of late, and the ever-present story that had honestly worn itself out by the end of album number two. So when it was announced after a long creative drought that Defeater were returning to that same story AGAIN on album number five(!) and slapping their band name on as its title with a tracklisting that looked like it was made out a Defeater-themed madlibs, I couldn't help but see this as both a joke and an admission of defeat (pun intended). After all, this band has presented roughly the same story through the perspective of two brothers, their father, their mother, the family priest, and some homeless dude...and for what, exactly? To say that drugs and war are bad? What more is there to say? Well, as it turns out, not too much. Truth be told, nearly everything you need to know about this album can be gleamed from its album title. Either out of confidence or resignation, this is Defeater presenting a Defeater album through and through. Thankfully, I'm inclined to believe it's the former.
What can sometimes get lost in all the posturing of the band's endless obsession with Johnny Got His Gun, is just how fun the band can be when they are on. With Defeater
, the band have brought back some of that kinetic energy that has been sorely lacking since 2011's Endless Days and Sleepless Nights
. The thunderous introduction of "The Worst of Fates" earns its place in the band's pantheon of strong openers before giving way to "List and Heel" and "Atheists in Foxholes". These opening tracks serve as a wonderful reminder of how talented and technical the band's rhythm section can be, proudly being on display without being overbearing. Elsewhere on "No Guilt", the band even lighten up a bit with a battlecry of "GO!" before a fairly generic hardcore breakdown that is actually a nice breather between tribal drumming and urgent guitar licks. To put it simply, it sounds like the band give a shi
That being said, this self-titled romp isn't without faults. There are still some stretches that don't entirely justify their existence -did "Desperate" really have to be that long... , the vocals sound a little worn compared to previous efforts, and sometimes the mix can be a little blobby. Still, Defeater
is a much needed shot in the arm for the band after the underwhelming Letters Home
and entirely forgettable Abandoned
. At this point in their career, nobody is going to change their mind about Defeater but its nice being served a collection of songs to remind us of why they were worth having an opinion about in the first place.