Defeater push their conceptual melodic hardcore into newer, darker chapters | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Defeater push their conceptual melodic hardcore into newer, darker chapters 

click to enlarge Defeater


Ryan Mackfall

Melodic hardcore isn’t known for indulging pleasantries, and Boston-based five-piece Defeater dare you to enter a universe that’s as bleak as it is complex. Derek Archambault (vocals), Adam Crow (guitar), Jake Woodruff (guitar), Mike Poulin (bass), and Joe Longobardi (drums) write concept albums that tell the story of a Depression-era working-class family as they struggle with adultery, treachery, poverty, and death. Archambault refers to the characters he’s created as his own “Glass family” (a reference to recurring characters in the fiction of J.D. Salinger), and his narratives are inspired by Salinger’s work as well as stories from his grandparents. Literary-minded listeners can follow the storyline chronologically, but that’s by no means necessary to enjoy Defeater’s music. In May the band put out their self-titled fifth full-length, the only release in their catalog that tackles multiple character arcs at once. It might seem odd for a band to release their first self-titled album so late in the game, but they seem to be proudly claiming it as their magnum opus—and if they are, they have good reason. Produced by tastemaking engineer Will Yip (Touche Amore, Turnover), Defeater is clean and calculated, and Archambault still spits damnation and salvation in his tightly written lyrics. The narratives don’t overpower the songs as they sometimes did on previous releases; instead they’re complemented by explosive full-band bashes and softer, more methodical guitar lines that lace the underbellies of tracks such as “Desperate.” But even without the stories dominating center stage, Defeater will suck you right into their wretched world.   v

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