This five-piece Boston hardcore band continues the literary device around which they have built their entire band: the struggles of a family in the post-World War II years. It’s gritty and dark, with murder, guilt, and hopelessness. This is not a lyrically upbeat album. And yet it is all done in a mature manner. Many bands wouldn’t be able to utilize the device effectively, but Defeater does so in a way that makes me want to know more about these characters; I’d love to read short stories of these individuals. The shorter run time (ten songs in thirty-four minutes) makes each track seem urgent and important without being rushed. Defeater gets their point across and moves on to the next track all the way up until the closer, “Bled Out,” the longest on the album, that culminates with vocalist Derek Archambault yelling, “All I see is the bastard in me,” the same lyric that anchored the opening track, “Bastards.” Yet Letters Home isn’t a blistering album, as there is melody even if Archambault’s vocals are primarily screaming. Hell, when I heard the guitar at the beginning of “No Saviour” and “Bled Out,” I would’ve thought I was listening to something from Sonic Youth’s Murray Street. Joe Longobardi’s drumming is worth particular note, as it’s not only solid, but also at times complicated. He doesn’t just settle for fills in spots where other drummers might have done so. The point is that Defeater hasn’t gone soft, nor is their fierceness unbridled. Instead, they’ve found a way to put it all together just right.
–kurt (Bridge 9)