Sound — 9
(DEFEATER'S MUSIC HAS A STORY TO IT, I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU LISTEN TO THEIR FIRST FULL-LENGTH, "TRAVELS" BEFORE READING THIS REVIEW OR LISTENING TO THIS ALBUM, AS NOT TO SPOIL THE STORY. I WILL BE DISCUSSING THE STORY PUT INTO THIS ALBUM IN THIS REVIEW.) Defeater puts out their second full-length album, Endless Days & Sleepless Nights, which follows the story of "Travels", but through the perspective of the older brother. It picks up right after the younger brother kills their father in the song "Forgiver Forgetter" from "Travels". It gives more insight on the older brother's life, mainly what he was trying to accomplish in his life, and what his plans were for his little brother. Defeater's sound on the new album is a lot more refined and polished. They stick to their melodic hardcore genre, however, and also employ more acoustic parts in this album, a full four acoustic songs located at the end of the album, which is the part labeled "Sleepless Nights". Due to the more polished sound, the band as a whole sounds a lot more tight, every part compliments the other nicely. The use of drums on this album is great, especially during "White Oak Doors", where an increasingly louder bass + snare drum synched combo gets increasingly louder, symbolizing an approaching train. The vocals are familiar, coherent enough to make out, but you can still feel the anger and sadness in the singer's shouts. Defeater stays a very emotionally driven band, and the status of the music is constantly following the lyrics. There are quiet parts in the album, and disorienting parts, reflecting sadness and confusion, respectively. This change in emotion can be seen happening in just one song, as well as with the album itself as a whole. This musical similarity makes it easy to listen to both "Travels" and "Endless Days & Sleepless Nights", they have a very similar approach and it gives an impression of the story not only being written by the same author, but also read by the same person. Almost like a two part (so far) memoir, if you will.
Lyrics — 10
Although Defeater have a really good sound, their lyrics are where they truly shine. The way the lyrics are presented is more like spoken word than anything else, but they still manage to flow well with the music and are separated well. This also allows a person to read through the lyrics and have it feel like a book, most likely due to not many of the lyrics being repeated, but rather certain themes are stressed throughout the album. The album begins with the mother shouting "Dear God, what have you done?" which is right after the younger brother kills his father with a bottle of whiskey. The younger brother runs away, and the older one goes to the train tracks, vowing to kill his younger sibling. The second song takes place during the father's funeral, which isn't discussed in Travels since the younger brother fled, and that is who's perspective it followed. The older brother reminisces about the stories his dad told as his mother cries, all while dirt is being thrown over the coffin. The third song shows the older brother sitting at a pier, waiting for his younger sibling. He now works long shifts at the shipyard to support the family, the mother cannot support them due to a heroin addiction she has developed. Tracks four and five focus on the older brother's experiences at a bar called the Copper Coin, where he goes with his co-workers to drink after their shift. He would stay long there, even after his buddies left with their girlfriends. He envied them, and one day met a nice girl at the bar, who he began to date. They have a big fight, and the older brother feels as if his decisions aren't backed by his girlfriend, and this causes him to get blindly drunk, fueling the fight. He is criticized for clinging onto his dead father's ideals, and is harassed by a bookie his dad had to frequently deal with. One of the album's climaxes comes in the sixth song, "White Knuckles". In this song, the older brother gets fed up with the bookie, after he gives his wife a mean look, and attacks him one day at the bar. He managed to land a punch, but then is attacked by the bookie's companions. He wakes up in the street, and makes his way back to his home. He discovers his front door open, and when he enters the house, he discovers his wife dead in a pool of blood. The bookie had her killed. The older brother is immediately filled with rage, blaming his drinking habits for the reason that she died, since he wasn't at home to protect, but was rather trying to temporarily forget about her. The following two songs, "Cemetery Walls" and "Quiet The Longing" talk about his life immediately after his wife's funeral. He still spends his nights after work at the Copper Coin getting completely drunk, but instead this time he does it alone, and he now often climbs the cemetery's walls at night now to get to his wife's grave. He spends more time there than with his mother, and he grows sick of it. He blames the separation of the family on himself, and his mother spends most of her time at home or in church praying her rosary, praying for a death. The ninth song, "At Peace", discusses the worsening condition of the mother and how much of an alcoholic the older brother has become. The mother is now too frail to leave the house by herself to get her heroin, the older brother does this for her when he goes out for beer. He still spends a considerable amount of time sitting on the dock, hoping that some day his younger brother will come back some day. So that he can take his life. The older brother comes home one day to find his mother missing, along with her rosary. He thinks of the only place she would be; church. He goes to the church, and finds her sitting at a pew. He touches her hand, and it is cold. She died in that pew with a needle in her arm. The older brother interprets it as she is now at peace with her husband, and now he has no real reason to live. He frequently considers suicide, sitting in a chair, pointing a gun at his head. The closing song of "Endless Days", "White Oak Doors", is by far the most powerful. One night while the older brother is sitting at home drunk, the younger brother comes back. The older brother angrily tells him that because of him, their mother's addiction got far more severe, and tells him of how empty the family became. He swears right then and there to take his life, and, with the gun pointed at him, he forces him down to the train tracks. The same train tracks where they playfully dodged trains as young boys. He forces him down onto the tracks and whispers to him how he'll be joining their mother soon, all while having the gun shoved in his face. At this point in the song, it is just the shouted vocals and a muffled snare. As the song progresses, the snare becomes louder and louder, symbolizing the train approaching. And then, all of a sudden, "In an instant he's got your arm, he's got your gun, you're held down by his weight. You feel the cold steel above and below." the younger brother at the last second attacks his older sibling, and then throws him onto the tracks. The tables have turned, now the older one is helpless. The older brother isn't outrightly angry or sad, he sees it as a chance to join his wife. At this point in the song, the "train" is so loud that you can barely make out the vocals, and the last lyric is cut short, "You took him. If this is how it's going to be then I would rather die at the hands of my own family". That was the older brother's last shout at his sibling, but it is cut off by the train killing him. There is then two minutes of silence and then the acoustic part, "Sleepless Nights" kicks in. The way I interpreted "Sleepless Nights" was like someone found a journal or diary that belonged to the older brother, and then made songs about it. They discuss events from the parents fighting, all the way to regrets about his wife, their plans, and some of the reasons he stopped visiting his wife's grave. "Sleepless Nights" is filled with regret and sorrow, with a dash of promise in "I Don't Mind". The vocals on this part of the album are a very nice change. For a hardcore singer, Derek sure has a good clean voice.
Overall Impression — 9
"Endless Days & Sleepless Nights" is a solid follow-up to "Travels", and it answers some questions and gives some great insight towards the events in "Travels". It takes their sound and slightly pushes it into a different direction, by that I mean the fact that there are more acoustic parts on this album. "Travels" had half of an acoustic song, and this album has four whole acoustic songs. I enjoyed the added acoustic parts, but I feel like at least part of it could have showed up during "Endless Days", instead of just throwing it on the end of the album. The standout songs on this album for me are "Waves Crash", "Clouds Roll", "White Oak Doors", and "Headstone". I feel that this combination represents each aspect of the album, so if you were to listen to some songs before getting this album, I'd suggest any combination of those three, just be careful how much attention you pay to the words, otherwise you may spoil the story if you didn't read the Lyric section of this review. If this band's sound itself is what initially interested you, I highly suggest that you check out their lyrics. My appreciation for them soared after I realized how entertaining the stories they tell are, and because of that, they quickly became one of my favorite bands. The lyrics are definitely worth at least one read, whether or not you listen to the music as you read them.