I have never heard a sadder hardcore album than Defeater’s Abandoned. Derek Archambault’s voice is a haunting, screaming whisper reminding us of our imperfections and flaws. The record encompasses nearly the entire spectrum of sadness and guilt. Abandoned is told from the point of view of a priest who knows the family from the band’s first three full-lengths. He is destitute with his guilt and it’s eating him from the inside out.
Defeater have taken a softer approach with their instrumentals on Abandoned. The drums are slower than in previous work, and the guitars often play quietly and sometimes stop all together. This record is about the lyrics, which separates this band from its hardcore contemporaries.
“I was a good man once,” resonates with you even after “Unanswered” has finished playing. This admission of downfall is prevalent in every song. At first, the priest’s fall from grace can be attributed to the war, but it seems unclear if the war ruined him or if it is simply the fallibility of human nature. The record goes through his various sins (as he sees it) and his anger at a God wholly missing from his life. He’s stuck in a cycle of hope for an answer from God and denial of God with its accompanying suffering.
“Spared in Hell” reveals that the priest’s near death experience in the war and the chaplain’s sacrifice to save him led him to the priesthood, but the horrors he witnessed led him to the bottle.
“Since I was spared in hell I repay the old chaplain that saved me.
I spend my days with the good book,
Follow every chapter, prayer, and verse.
I spend my nights with my vices
Just to find some proof in the words.”
“December 1943” is about the inhumanity he experienced while serving during the war. He wants to remember, but all he can conjure up are half memories and pain.
“I can’t remember
Each time it slipped right through my fingers.
The eyes and faces of my brothers,
They never made it back home to their mothers.”
“Borrowed and Blue” is remorseful, but it isn’t angry or directed at God. It’s a nostalgic love song for a woman he once had in his life. The priest is only a man, after all.
“I maybe a sinner,
Forsaken and damned,
Selfish with pride for the touch of her hand.”
There are no better story tellers in hardcore today than Defeater. I can’t imagine what the origin of this kind of life consuming, gut-wrenching story is, but with Abandoned Defeater have created a masterpiece of dark, solitary anguish.
By David Marulanda