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Album Review

Defeater – Abandoned

Defeater Abandoned

Thrilling, heartfelt and imaginative, this is Defeater at their most dramatic.

Label: Epitaph
Released: 28th August 2015

Rating: ★★★★

There’s simply no escaping the intensity of Defeater frontman Derek Archambault. Throttling and uncompromising in his delivery, the tragedy in his storytelling has never felt as ferocious as on this eleven-track outing. And while it may be commonplace for most bands to depict their own highs and lows on any given release, ‘Abandoned’ sees the Boston hardcore quintet continue to do nothing of the sort.

Inspired by his favourite authors, Archambault concludes the story of an unnamed New Jersey family at the centre of the band’s back-catalogue. From the turmoil of debut ‘Travels’, heartache of ‘Empty Days’ and sheer compassion of ‘Letters Home’, this fourth full-length provides the ultimate plot twist.

Capturing the moment that good turns to evil, then, spawns tracks like ‘Unanswered’, ‘Spared In Hell’ and ‘Divination’, in which Archambault sings of grand biblical revelations. It’s throughout the entirety of ‘Abandoned’ that the frontman questions religion and, while not scrutinising particular beliefs, examines the idea of belief itself.

‘Borrowed & Blue’ is the tale’s turning point, where guilt and sorrow are made all the more chilling with guest vocals from Make Do And Mend’s James Carroll. By the time ‘Penance’ drops, the narrative is so bleak it’s a wonder it didn’t consume the band during the writing process.

So visual is the brilliance of Archambault’s songwriting ability, but even without any prior knowledge, ‘Pillar Of Salt’ and opener ‘Contrition’ prove that there’s still progressive musicianship at the heart of this record. Mike Poulin’s drumming is fierce and incessant as the band thrash at their given instruments. Even at the slowest moments of ‘Vice & Regret’ – the dramatic finale – the band remain in synch.

Thrilling, heartfelt and imaginative, this is Defeater at their most dramatic. Jessica Bridgeman