Blink-182 is Stiff and Out of Touch on Ninth Album

Nine is an unfortunate and out of touch entry into a once legendary catalog.

Blink-182 is a pop/punk three-piece from Poway, California. Their debut, Cheshire Cat in 1995 and it’s follow up, Dude Ranch found significant success with the latter going platinum, but it was their 1999 classic, Enema of the State which placed the band at the very top of the rising pop/punk wave and remains to this day one of the most iconic rock albums of the late 90’s. The success continued through the turn of the century as 2001’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and 2003’s self-titled LP sold over three million copies combined and solidified Blink’s legend status, despite the drop in quality as they turned from goofy, immature comedy to weak attempts at thoughtful lyricism. Since this successful trio, the band broke an eight year silence with 2011’s  Neighborhoods and another five year break with 2016’s California. Both records received middling reviews and commercial success. Now, they’ve returned with Nine.

The problems with this album are fairly apparent from the first track, “The First Time,” as Mark Hoppus struggles in vain to keep up, vocally, with the rest of the band. That carefree, whining lead that brought such a comedic layer to the band’s sound is just gone as cuts like “Hungover You,” sound completely out of touch.

Lyrically, the record also leaves quite a bit to be desired as well. Blink hasn’t had the juvenile edge in many years, but this album is especially bland. Tracks like “Happy Days,” and “On Some Emo Shit,” verge on meaningless and lack any of the snarky wit that fans have come to expect. There is genuinely not a single memorable line on the LP, and the pacing suffers greatly for it.

In fairness, there are a handful of interesting tracks. Travis Barker’s drumming is, as always, a highlight as cuts like “Pin the Grenade,” and “No Heart to Speak Of,” which make the second half of the record somewhat bearable, and “Blame It On My Youth,” which is maybe the most exciting track on the LP, hinge almost entirely on Barker’s lightning fast fills and creative rhythms. These are some of the few moments when the magic of the old Blink seems to be alive, but they’re quickly snuffed out.

The drums are often dragged down by atrocious production. Tracks like “Heaven,” and “Darkside,” are some of the worst as the vocals hiss almost to a painful extent and the drums and guitars are often soaked in an ill-advised comb-filter effect which makes them sound like they’re coming from a playstation game.

Additionally, the instrumentals themselves are often boring and uninspired. Cuts like “Run Away,” and the closer, “Remember to Forget Me,” feature almost nothing of note and feel almost like musical wallpaper. The mixture of lazy songwriting and repetitive arrangement seriously hurts the pacing and leaves none of the tracks with any lasting impact.

Some of the best tracks on the album are the two, “Generational Divide,” and “Ransom,” which come in with a runtime under 90 seconds. Oddly enough, this shorter format seems to ignite some songwriting fire in the band as Barker’s drums and even some of the vocal hooks are punchy and exciting. These tracks don’t overstay their welcome and, though the entire album couldn’t be made up of cuts like this, they’re some of the only exciting moments across the bloated runtime.

Perhaps the worst tracks on the album, though, fall in the middle where the band just seems to be desperately searching for a sound. “Black Rain,” sees a more metal approach with heavier instrumentation while “I Really Wish I Hated You,” attempts to use sharp vocal melodies and witty lyricism to tell a story. Unfortunately, both fail, not for lack of trying, but because the band is just far too stiff and out of touch to pull off these new sounds. At best, these tracks sound like an older band having fun trying out some new styles, and at worst they sound like cheap mimicry of the dynamism that made them legends in the first place. Add in the constant trap drums and hip-hop instrumental elements, and you have a recipe for a very out of touch LP.

Ultimately, I don’t know that I can call this album a disappointment. I haven’t cared much for anything Blink has done since their heyday in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. But this album is especially frustrating for a number of reasons. The bloated runtime and lack of creativity certainly spring to mind, but most of all, I have to wonder as to the purpose of the album in the first place. None of these tracks appear to have been worked on all that much and if you don’t feel like working hard on new music, why put out a new record at all?

Nine is an unfortunate and out of touch entry into a once legendary catalog.

3/10

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Charli XCX Drops Exciting Third LP

Charli is a massive step forward for Charli XCX and yet another great record in modern pop music.

Charli XCX is a dance-pop singer/songwriter from Cambridge, England. Her first LP in 2013, True Romance was relatively well received by critics, though it found little commercial success. Nevertheless, she was able to try her hand at a second release on 2014’s Sucker, her first LP to enter the billboard charts. The album spawned two hit singles in the platinum “Break the Rules,” and the triple platinum smash hit, “Boom Clap.” Quickly, Charli found herself with significant clout as a rising star in the dance-pop genre with a couple of hits under her belt and a fair amount of critical respect to boot. Now, she’s back with her third LP, and her first release in five years, Charli.

Easily the largest improvement for Charli comes in her vocal. This is obvious from the opener, “Next Level Charli,” as well as in later cuts like “White Mercedes,” where stays in her upper register and belts out one impressive hook after another. This vocal skill was present on earlier works, but the sound of this LP is far more demanding, and so her improvements shine brightly.

This is helped by the simply fantastic melody writing across the entire album. Tracks like “Gone,” or “Official,” are some of the most catchy pop songs of the year thanks to dynamic hooks and genuinely interesting vocal lines. Even on the handful of tracks with structural or lyrical issues, these are easily ignored in favor of the singable melodies.

There are also more than a few strong features. Fellow dance pop artist, Yaeji, sings an intriguing, almost childish closing verse in Korean on “February 2017,” Troye Sivan pops up twice on the tracklist, both times showcasing great chemistry with Charli. None stand out quite as powerfully, though, as Lizzo’s powerful and hilarious verse on “Blame It on Your Love,” which features lines like “my body like a swisher just roll it,” and “I’m tryna catch millions, I ain’t tryna catch feelings,” just to mention a few.

Beyond this, the instrumentation is quite strong. Much of this has to do with unique choices in percussion as in “1999,” which ranges from classic trap snares to toned basses and creative natural sounds and samples. On the other hand, cuts like “Click,” feature active melodic instrumentation, mostly synths, which are daringly abrasive and distorted along with surprising samples from what sounds like 80’s video games. The instrumentation, on the whole, is lush, and challenging in a way that I certainly didn’t expect.

This is helmed by a grand, hands on production style which really brings the entire album together. This style is present from the rich mixes on cuts like “Warm,” to the overwhelming synths on “Thoughts,” which are reminiscent of vintage sci-fi soundtracks, or the powerful reverb and vocal effects on “I Don’t Wanna Know.” Each and every track is extremely well mixed and has an entirely unique, yet each bare the stamp of the album’s production style.

All of these elements come to a head near the end of the LP with some of the strongest, most experimental tracks. “2099,” is a great closer which sees the return of Troye Sivan and a handful of interesting instrumental choices. The most daring track on the album, however, is “Shake It,” which features howling synths, mind-bending vocal effects, and excellent stereo image. It’s these cuts which impress me the most on this album as the effort to add experimental flair to a traditional pop album is not only much appreciated, but extremely well executed.

As much as I love moments on this album, however, it does have a few weak points. Perhaps the biggest sin comes in the extremely repetitive lyrics and melodies on tracks like “Cross You Out,” and “Silver Cross.” Additionally, the lyrics leave a bit to be desired, touching quite a bit on similar subject matter and lacking in any interesting rhyme schemes or storytelling.

All together, though, Charli is an impressive record. With the five year gap between releases, Charli seems to have matured significantly, now ready to join the growing stable of creative artists who are quickly pushing pop music to its most intriguing point in decades.

Charli is a massive step forward for Charli XCX and yet another great record in modern pop music.

8/10

Post Malone Enlists SZA, Ozzy, and More for Third LP

Hollywood’s Bleeding is a fun listen that doesn’t quite meet it’s full potential.

Post Malone’s rise to the higher tiers of the hip-hop world has been relatively quick. From his 2015 breakout single, “White Iverson,” to his subsequent major label debut, Stoney in 2016, Malone quickly made a name for himself as a reliable producer of atmospheric, beat-centric tracks which make a perfect soundtrack for late night driving, or late night drinking, depending on your preference. Some have criticized his approach as being quantity over quality, and his music as “sonic wallpaper,” that isn’t meant to be listened to as much as played in the background. This reputation was crushed by 2018’s Beerbong’s & Bentley’s, one of the best rap albums of the year, which put Post on the map as serious hitmaker and a reliable producer of fun, danceable bangers. Now, with just a year for turnaround, we have yet another nearly hour long project in Hollywood’s Bleeding which, for the most part, lives up to its predecessor. 

Definitely the most significant improvement on this LP comes in the form of the strong and varied instrumentals. From the unpredictable switches on the opening title track to the genuine rock and pop influences on cuts like “Allergic,” and my favorite track, “Circles.” Post has often discussed his wide base of influences and has incorporated them into his music with a mixture of success, but his blend of pop rock and hip-hop is genuinely brilliant and provides an excellent variety over the long album.

Speaking of rock influences, the feature list on this LP has a few surprising names, to say the least. Future and Halsey turn in solid verses on “Die for Me,” and SZA is impeccable as usual on “Staring At The Sun,” but it’s Ozzy Osbourne’s appearance on “Take What You Want,” which has captivated listeners in the days since the album’s release, and for good reason: It works far better than anyone would’ve imagined. Ozzy sounds fantastic and his hook, though short, is commanding and powerful. This is all not to mention the roaring guitar solo that closes the track.

Beyond his features, Malone proves once again on this album that he’s one of the better vocalists in all of hip-hop. His warbling vibrato is here in spades on tracks like “I’m Gonna Be,” but I found myself far more impressed by the powerful belts on tracks like “Enemies,” and “On The Road.” Again, those rock influences rear their heads as he digs into his vocal cords a bit more to achieve a gritty, dynamic tone.

As one would expect, however, this album hinges quite a bit on Post’s status as one of the best hook writers in the business and, thankfully, this record is packed with singable ear-worms. “Saint-Tropez,” and “A Thousand Times,” feature some of the catchiest choruses of the year and virtually every second of the closer, “Wow,” is nothing short of addictive.

Sadly, this album really dives off of a cliff in the latter half. Easily the worst issue comes in the lyrics. The writing on tracks like “Internet,” and “I Know,” just feels lazy and uninventive, while the lyrics on “Myself,” are just bizarre and relatively meaningless, which doesn’t help a track which is already on shaky ground, sonically.

Additionally, there are some terrible features. I’ve never personally been a fan of Swae Lee’s work on “Sunflower,” despite it’s success as a single, as his voice is as bland and uninteresting as ever. This doesn’t compare, however, to Young Thug dropping yet another unlistenable verse on  “Goodbyes.” I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed a verse from Young Thug, and his unnerving howl is completely out of place on the otherwise inoffensive effort.

Ultimately, this album is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Post has developed several elements which peaked out on the last release. He’s taking his wide-ranging influences more seriously, successfully incorporating rock and folk in a brilliant way. He also has lost a step in his talent for writing excellent hooks and working with strong features, for the most part.

Unfortunately, he’s still failed to learn from the mistake which has plagued every single release in his catalog: his insistence on including seemingly every idea that comes to his mind on the final album line-up. Because of this, the record is far too long with poor pacing, and the entire last third, with the exception of the closer, feels entirely half baked and underdeveloped.

Despite this, the album is a blast. Its shining moments are blinding and its weak points can easily be ignored. It’s just a shame that poor pacing and a few annoying features keep the LP from living up to its predecessors.

Hollywood’s Bleeding is a fun listen that doesn’t quite meet it’s full potential.

6/10

AURORA Drops Starkly Gorgeous and Well Executed LP

A Different Kind Of Human is breathtaking take on pop music with a colder, more alienating tone which contrasts well with the undeniably catchy songwriting and mainstream sensibilities.

AURORA is an indie/electropop artist from Stavanger, Norway. She debuted with her 2015 EP, Running with the Wolves which slipped almost entirely under the radar but built something of an underground fan base. It was her full length follow up, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, which put her on the radar of the indie pop world, topping the charts in her native Norway and even breaking onto the US charts for a moment after she performed on a few American late night programs. This success kicked off a massive tour which ended with the release of her second EP, Infections of a Different Kind, which landed her a spot in festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella, as well as serving as the first part or “step,” as she called it, in a longterm series of releases. The second “step,” A Different Kind of Human released earlier this week and on it, Aurora is as entrancing as ever.

The album opens with one of AURORA’s fantastic songwriting on full display in the form of irresistible hooks. Tracks like “The River,” and “The Seed,” feature choruses which will catch the ear of even the most casual music listener and stick in their heads for quite awhile. She ties in clear inspirations from artists like David Bowie, for whom she’s expressed much admiration in the past, in putting together some truly fantastic hooks.

Beyond this, her lyricism is even more impressive. On cuts like “Daydreamer,” and “Hunger,” AURORA simultaneously uses a few interesting techniques. On the one hand, she consistently goes against the thematic grain of modern pop music, criticizing our tendencies to live only in the moment and speaking to the importance of living for the future as well. Additionally, she writes with haunting and almost alien imagery that makes for a fascinating experience when trying to dissect her storytelling.

Vocally, AURORA is also quite strong. While she doesn’t quite have the power of an average pop star, she makes up for this in spades with impressive control and an excellent range. Tracks like “Animal,” and “Soulless Creatures,” benefit tremendously from her excellent work as the front woman, her gentle tone providing an intimacy which acts as a strong counterpoint to the bewildering instrumentals.

All this being said, A Different Kind Of Human, as with most great pop music, leans heavily on its production and instrumentation. Most of the instrumentals feature heavy synths and quite a few unique tones but this is nothing compared to the extremely inventive percussion, most of which was performed by AURORA herself. Songs like “In Bottles,” and “Apple Tree,” while already listenable and interesting in their own right, are elevated to entirely new heights by the quirky and unpredictable percussion that drives their rhythms.

The album as a whole, however, just wouldn’t be what it is without some of the most genuinely impressive production of the year. From the intoxicating simplicity of “Dance On The Moon,” to the otherworldly experimentation of the title track, and even the gorgeous but criminally short closer, “Mothership,” the production team gets it right in every way possible on this one. Technically, their mixing and vocal tuning is spot on and creatively, nearly every second of the album is daring and unique, yet still listenable and accessible for all listeners.

Ultimately, A Different Kind Of Human is yet another breathtaking accomplishment for the Norwegian pop superstar. She’s somehow able to blend fearless experimentation with wonderfully accessible elements to create something truly special. The record is cold and distant, yet starkly beautiful in almost every way. If you’re a fan of great, well executed pop music, this is a must listen.

A Different Kind Of Human is breathtaking take on pop music with a colder, more alienating tone which contrasts well with the undeniably catchy songwriting and mainstream sensibilities.

8/10

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Dinosaur Pile-Up Signs With a New Label and Drops Enjoyable Fourth LP

Celebrity Mansions is an enjoyable project, but falls short of being anything more.

Dinosaur Pile-Up is an alt-rock band from Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. They debuted with three well received EPs in the late 2000’s before dropping their first full length album, Growing Pains, in 2010 with charted in the UK. They quickly signed with SO Records and releasing the follow up, Nature Nurture just three years later and supporting it with a tour that brought them to the United States for the first time. Eleven Eleven dropped in 2015, their third full length studio effort and final partnering with SO before landing a massive signing with Parlophone Records. With the much larger label, Dinosaur Pile-Up has access to the highest budget they’ve ever had for an album, a massive growth from their debut which was recorded in at home. With this budget, they’ve recently dropped their fourth studio LP and, for the most part, it’s a blast.

Like any good rock album, one strong feature of the record comes in the form of its lead guitar. Matt Bigland brings a handful of creative ideas to tracks like “Back Foot,” and “Black Limousine,” meshing noticeable, smooth melodies with chaotic, garage rock tendencies to make for quite a few impressive moments. For many listeners, this detail may fall by the wayside because of louder, more commanding elements, but no rock record is complete without strong guitar work.

That being said, Bigland is far more impressive in his duties as the band’s lead vocalist. His range and energy make cuts like the opener, “Thrash Metal Cassette,” and the title track infinitely listenable. He’s so clearly having a great time and it comes through in virtually every second of music. Not to mention, his screams are quite impressive, especially for the genre.

Even more addictive than Matt’s work as the frontman are Mike Shells’ fantastic drums. Virtually every track is impressive, but a few of my favorites include “Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk,” and “Black Limousine.” Throughout the LP, Mike is exactly the kind of drummer this genre demands as none of his rhythms are particularly eye-popping but all of them bring an explosive style that takes each track to a whole new level. The drum kit is also particularly well mixed, which brings me to the true highlight of the album.

The production on this album is excellent. The new label’s money is well spent hear as the album carries a perfect balance between the sharp, tight mix and the messy, ringing instrumentation. The sharp cut off on “Pouring Gasoline,” is a fantastic example of this. On the other hand, there are a few creative moments like the surprising use of radio effects on “Round The Bend.” It’s this strong production throughout which elevates every track and even saves a few poor ones.

However, unfortunately, I do have quite a few complaints with this LP. Perhaps the worst quality comes in a few cringe-worthy lyrics on later cuts like “K West,” and “Professional Freak.” This is especially disappointing as lyrics on earlier tracks are quite strong. Additionally, several tracks on the latter half of the album just don’t carry their weight and seem to drag a bit. 

All in all, Celebrity Mansions is a fun listen. It brings back much of the alt-rock and pop punk styles of the early 2000’s with a bit more precision and maturity as well as some very strong production. However, several lyrical and melodic moments don’t quite live up, causing the album with a runtime of only just over half an hour to feel bloated.

Celebrity Mansions is an enjoyable project, but falls short of being anything more.

4/10

The Jonas Brothers’ Comeback is a Decade in the Making

Happiness Begins is simply frustrating because of a strong start and a heap of potential, but lazy writing and terrible production and instrumentation drag the album down every step of the way.

The Jonas Brothers are a power pop trio from Wyckoff, New Jersey. While their debut was fairly nondescript and unimpressive, their self-titled sophomore release in 2007 went double platinum and netted them a Grammy nomination for best new artist. They landed roles in the 2008 Disney Channel smash hit Camp Rock, becoming Disney Royalty. They dropped another double platinum record that year and another platinum album in 2009. Their last two records peaked at number one on Billboard charts and they’d had a multitude of massively successful EPs, tours, movies, and music videos. In 2012, however, after several delays plagued work on a new project, the brothers announced that they were leaving Hollywood Records, their tie to Disney, and began a messy, drawn out process of splitting up. Nick Jonas found considerable success as a solo act with a handful of platinum singles while Joe Jonas fronted the group DNCE, honing his power pop chops and dropping a few hits himself. Now, a decade after their last release, the brothers have returned with Happiness Begins which is, unfortunately, disappointing.

The opener and lead single, “Sucker,” raised my hopes quite a bit even before the record has released. Unfortunately, aside from a handful moments on songs like “Trust,” these hooks just don’t appear as much as they need to. While a few choruses here and there are strong, singable earworms, just as many are poorly written and half baked. This is, to be sure, the strongest quality of the album and could make it sound better than it really is when played as wallpaper music. However, the singable sections of these tracks often don’t hold up to closer listening.

Beyond this, the Brothers do show some fairly impressive chops in the harmony department. Songs like “Used to Be,” and “Strangers,” feature tight, three part harmonies which, though they aren’t nearly as prevalent as they should be, are very welcome additions to the sound. Sadly, this is pretty well the end of the line in terms of positive comments on the album.

One bizarrely poor choice comes early in the record with nearly unlistenable, “Only Human,” and reappears only a few tracks later with “Every Single Time.” Here, the Jonas Brothers take their best swing at a reggae style and whiff entirely. Virtually every aspect of these tracks-the poorly mixed horns, the strange inclusion of synthesized steel drums, the awkward vocal performances-is hamfisted and irredeemable.

Lyrically speaking, the entire LP is essentially filler. Songs like “Love Her,” and the closer, “Comeback,” are especially egregious, but I don’t know that I heard one single memorable lyric in the more than 40 minute runtime. Nothing is noticeably bad, but it all feels somewhat lazy and cliche’d.

The instrumentals also leave quite a bit to be desired. The main reasoning for this stems from terrible choices of tone for the synths that drench every track. There’s certainly nothing wrong with using synths for the majority of the record, and in fact I was expecting this in keeping with their more power pop roots, but the tones range from abrasive and odd to just thoughtless and ignorable on a song like “I Believe. On the other hand, later songs like “Rollercoaster,” use terribly outdated acoustic guitars that seem ripped from a Philip Philips album.

Perhaps the first hint that I was headed for a disappointment came with the very poorly mixed drums on the second single, “Cool,” as well as later cuts like “Happy When I’m Sad.” The percussion generally uses boring, nondescript trap drums which simply don’t fit with the tracks what soever, though when a more organic kit is present, it’s devoid of any body or thickness.

This brings me to the most overarching and inescapable critique of this project which comes down to simply awful production. “Don’t Throw It Away,” is unbearably mixed while “Hesitate,” uses a multitude of irritating effects and poorly tuned vocals. I save this issue for last because it is certainly the cause of the majority of the album’s weakness. There does seem to be at least a passable album hidden in here somewhere, but it’s just buried by one awful decision after another and what’s left is unlistenable. I genuinely wanted to enjoy this record, but there just isn’t much there to enjoy.

Happiness Begins is simply frustrating because of a strong start and a heap of potential, but lazy writing and terrible production and instrumentation drag the album down every step of the way.

3/10

AMAZON LINK: https://amzn.to/2UbiiiB

Defeater’s Self Titled Return is Brutal Yet Heartbreaking

Defeater is a riveting story of struggle which packs a punch of brutal instrumentation and heartfelt lyricism.

Defeater is a melodic hardcore band from Boston. They debuted in 2008 with Travels which tells the story of a young man born in New Jersey near the end of the second world war. This family and the circumstances surrounding them would go on to be the focus of the entirety of Defeater’s discography with each album expanding the world and introducing a litany of new characters, some acting as sequels and others as prequels. In addition to the sprawling narrative, the band’s unique ability to mix hardcore instrumentation with a keen sense of melody makes them one of the most interesting bands in the modern metal scene. They officially parted ways after the 2015 release of Abandoned, but announced in early March that they would return with a self-titled fifth LP.

From the opening track, “The Worst of Fates,” the most prevalent highlight of the band’s sound is clear, that being Derek Archambault’s vocal performance. Throughout the album, especially on cuts like the aforementioned opener or the more subtle “Desperate,” Archambault brings an intensity that can’t be ignored. Under that roughness, however, there’s a genuine vulnerability through which he imbues every story and character with a gruff sort of humanity. It’s a brutal scream, but heartfelt all the same.

Beyond this, Archambault’s lyrics are once again enthralling. Of course, the story telling and conceptualism of the album is every bit as excellent as expected. On tracks like “List & Heel,” or “All Roads,” though, he goes above and beyond in painting vivid imagery and writing with a truly cinematic eye. Along with its many other functions, this album is the fifth installment to a long series which deals with the same family and, in that department, it succeeds wildly.

Instrumentally, the record is a masterwork. Perhaps the most noticeable piece of the puzzle is Joe Longobardi’s drum work. On cuts like “Mother’s Sons,” or “No Guilt,” Joe transitions between complex rhythms and lightning quick fills and does each incredibly well. He has an excellent ear for timing and despite rather predictable time signatures and somewhat weak production, his work shines through as a definitive key to the band’s impressive sound.

Another great element is Jake Woodruff’s grinding lead guitar. While a few of choices are a bit questionable, his contributions to tracks like “Stale Smoke,” and my favorite song on the album, “Debt/Debtor,” can’t be ignored. His drowning style provides a more solid counterpoint against some of the album’s most driving, fast paced beats and he has a talent for writing hooks. On a few cuts, his leads provide the catchiest moments on the album in addition to laying a more layered atmosphere.

My favorite aspect of the band’s sound, though it may not be as immediately noticeable, is founding member Mike Poulin on bass guitar. He grants a heaviness to songs like “Atheists in Foxholes,” and “Hourglass,” and he’s to thank for much of Defeater’s fantastic sound. The chugging, rhythmic bass stands as the foundation of nearly every melody and it is, in many ways, the glue that holds the album together.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Defeater combines all of this for an epic, creative finish in “No Man Born Evil.” This track embodies much of what makes this album so good with a ringing lead guitar, thundering bass, and explosive drums underscoring an unbelievable performance from Derek Archambault which brings to life a harrowing storyline. It’s the perfect ending to a nearly perfect album.

Defeater’s self-titled come back is almost everything fans could’ve hoped for. We get to return to the dark, gritty world which they’ve created over the past decade, guiding by great writing and wonderful performances from the entire band.

Defeater is a riveting story of struggle which packs a punch of brutal instrumentation and heartfelt lyricism.

8/10