New Jersey. The Second World War has just ended. Everyone is struggling to get back on their feet. Amongst a working class family out on the shores, a hefty debate between drug-abusing parents can be witnessed: Their little baby boy, a blessing or a burden?
This is how Defeater’s story begins. Formed in 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts, their debut LP Travels, released in 2008, is a concept album taking us on a journey to glimpse into a burdensome family’s life. First centering around the younger brother, born to a father who is a veteran and a heroin-addicted mother, and sibling to his older brother who admires the family despite all the faults and hardships. We see him growing up, wandering around the city, having to deal with the family’s issues. A piece of melodic hardcore that can play anywhere from soft to fast, from blazing vocals to acoustic moments, that combines chaotic drum patterns with heartfelt lyricism.
Shortly after the release of their debut, the band confirmed all of its following works would be set in the same universe established on Travels. The EP Lost Ground is focused on a street performer we met on the first album. Empty Days & Sleepless Nights returns to the New Jersey family to tell its story from the perspective of the older brother. It’s a tale of death, debt, loss and patience. As the name is hinting at, the 2011 release is split into two parts. Empty Days comprises the first ten songs. Closing off with the lengthy White Oak Doors, it displays the band’s usual melodic hardcore sound playing with post-hardcore influences. Whereas on the other side, the four songs making up Sleepless Nights are pure, stripped down acoustic pieces.
The protagonist of Letters Home is the family’s father. Each of the ten songs is a letter written by him throughout the war. It’s therefore set before Travels and sheds some light on how he became the person the listeners have come to known. In 2015, a former minor character of Defeater’s history rises to the stage: The Catholic priest mentioned on the debut. The album’s artwork features a religious painting and the back of a blacked-out head looking at it. It portrays exactly what ‘The Priest’ is feeling: Suffering over the sins he committed, the lives he has been shaming, a God he does not fully believe in. A shocking secret about the New Jersey family is unearthed on this record.
A fifth, self-titled LP is currently in the works, expected to be released in May. The two singles off it suggest the band is sticking to its established sound, enriching the narrative by telling the next chapter of the New Jersey destinies. Prior to that, Defeater can be seen live on their currently on-going European tour.
Come see them play at Musik & Frieden on April 19th, and who knows, perhaps we’ll catch an exclusive sneak peek of what’s to come out soon.