Audio Mixer: Jay Maas.
Recording information: Getaway Recording Studios (10/2014-02/2015).
Photographers: Michael Winters; Alyssa Archambault.
Abandoned may be Defeater's first offering for revered punk label Epitaph, but the Boston-based hardcore group show little evidence of a career makeover. Since their 2008 debut, Travels, frontman Derek Archamault and his four companions have continued to develop their sprawling conceptual narrative concerning the lives of an unnamed blue-collar family set in post-WWII New Jersey. There's something comforting about Defeater's unwavering commitment to their ongoing saga and the fact that, after four solid albums dedicated to building up the story line, they didn't simply use their Epitaph deal to hit the reset button and start anew. On the other side of the coin, delivering five consecutive albums about the same fictional family risks redundancy and it's debatable that they might have done themselves a favor by ditching the concept or, at the very least, inventing a fresh one. As it is, Defeater once again revisit their mid-century plot vehicle, delivering a fifth chapter that is largely focused on a Catholic priest character tormented by his lapsed faith. Befitting its tormented subject, the self-produced Abandoned is predictably dark and punishing with Archamault's powerful voice shredding its way through tormented hardcore paeans like "Spared in Hell," "Divination," and "Penance." While this may not represent a great shift in Defeater's overall sound, they still dig into the material with vigor and passion. Bookended by a pair of moody cuts replete with intoned prayers spoken in the background, Abandoned plays to the severity of the Catholic faith, and if Defeater's thematic tendencies have begun to wear a bit thin, they still manage to pack a pretty big punch on a musical level. ~ Timothy Monger