Defeater – ‘Abandoned’ Review
Posted: by Sean Gonzalez
I’ve grown up listening to Defeater. The better part of my hardcore listening career has been spent walking the same streets that this World War II family has stepped through. The amount of hours I have analyzed lyrics and tried to piece the puzzle together has it’s own reward because the music is urgent and exciting to listen too. Abandoned is the newest release that continues the lore and emotional story that the band has established.
“Forgive me, my father, for I am a sinner. Unanswered, abandoned,” These last 2 words are the two most repeated words throughout the eleven song LP. Actually, most of the lyrics feel simplified, often times you will receive the same vocal line delivered with the same raw power in each track. There is an obvious feeling of being lost and desertion, which gives listeners an immediate connection. This character has been abandoned by his god, his brothers in the war, and this LP feels like a misconstrued prayer trying not to lose them self.
On my first listen, it was when I reached ‘Atonement,’ when the whole album clicked for me. Derek Archambault begins screaming “What brings you hear my son?” I was brought back to ‘Cowardice’ on their first album Travels. I am not going to lay it all out for you, but it directly portrays who this album is being narrated from. It was then that all of the constant lyrical refrains stopped feeling like a gimmick. Every song almost overuses too many of the same lyrics, but it was when the story came alive in my ears that I really felt the theme weigh on me.
Sonically, this is the most dynamic Defeater has ever been. What felt forced and awkward on Letters Home has been redefined with a pillar of confidence that the band has recently found. ‘Borrowed & Blue’ is the apex of Abandoned. The ability for the band to produce atmospheric indie rock gets warped into an anthemic rally behind Archambault’s harsh lyrics. The drums help give the song a bit more of an excitement to it with their frantic pace. The clean, melodic vocals (is that James Carrol of Make Do And Mend?) give the song much more of a graceful feel, really expanding on how sorrow sounds. It does have a bit more of a radio rock mainstream potential, which definitely through me for a spin at first. ‘Atonement,’ ‘Contrition’ and ‘Remorse’ showcase Derek’s voice reach it’s full potential in raw power and guttural pain. ‘Pillar Of Salt’ and ‘Spared In Hell’ are led by Joe Longobardi’s vicious assault on the drum kit, almost giving off a frantic machine gun bass with his spastic rolls. The guitars across this album have their highs and lows, often times spending a majority of the song bending and building their notes till the chords clash with the natural escalation of the song releases it’s true energy.
Where does this all leave Abandoned, though? It still doesn’t have that crushing energy that we received with Travels or Lost Ground, but there are songs with destructive pace and energy shining through. The riffs are there, often times adding eerie qualities to the atmosphere, the vocals are there and the lyrical concept is well constructed. In respect to their previous LP, this one burns with more fire and energy, but it has the same weight and depth to it. Upon detailing the story, it has more moments that play like a consistent mosh back ground music than forcing you to mosh along. Speaking of, the new chapter in the theme is a good one, with enough to portray the riveting nature of the narrator, but it just isn’t as gripping. Defeater still remain an intricate hardcore band, with Abandoned adding to their prolific catalog of LPs about spiraling downwards.