A handful of weeks short of two years since the eagerly welcomed release of their EP, You Know What You Are, British electro industrial/synth pop duo Defeat return with new album, Rise. This too, such the highly enjoyable offerings from the band before, has been a keenly anticipated encounter since news of its coming; enthusiasm rewarded with the pair’s most accessible yet creatively imaginative and skilfully accomplished proposal yet.
The successor to debut album [Seek Help] of 2013, Rise is a collection of anthems to dark thoughts, corrupted emotions, and invasive shadows. They are tracks which unleash the most virulent hooks and infectious escapades laced with menace and creative threat like a twisted twenty first century Fad Gadget; indeed there are times where you just feel that if Defeat were emerging in the eighties, Mute Records would have had them snapped up.
With inspirations from the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, NIN, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, and Skinny Puppy teasing their own ever potent and individual sound, the twosome of vocalist/lyricist Anthony Matthews and keyboardist/programmer Gary Walker have taken the evolution and promise of You Know What You Are and pulled it into another realm of craft and maturity, challenging their songwriting and imaginations along the way.
Rise opens up with The Phoenix; its sound elevating from the breath and ashes of an emotional wasteland. Melancholy honed melodies soon surround a rhythmic throb; the menacing and almost frustrated air becoming a hypnotic stroll jut as swiftly with a swagger and character as much a threat as a defiant realisation and action to its initial corrosive state. With catchy electronic flirtation and salaciously dancing shadows, the song is an easy to succumb to trap, Matthews’s words and tone a compelling mix of challenge and resurging hope.
The following Rage starts as an irritated emotional and physical ember which flickers and flames into an EBM nurtured blaze and again washed with defiance. It never becomes a furnace but instead wonderfully nags at the senses and imagination, stroking and provoking both with its relentless catchiness before The Hurt grows in ears. Its opening lure is almost predatory, laying dark electro seeds which swiftly bloom into another niggling refusing to be ignored temptation. Matthews echoes its shadows with his inimitable vocal prowess and presence; the drama within all aspects blossoming and immersing song and thoughts in contagious theatre.
Dirty/Sick crawls and trespasses the listener next, Matthews’s introspective guise a festering depravity surrounded by the deceitfully tempting sounds and invention of Walker, his melodies licking at ears with a relish almost matching the lustful threat of each trespassing syllable. The track is a grievous seduction and just irresistible while its successor and the album’s title track shares a toxic serenade invading and suffocating the senses with its envenomed mist; an ambush which should not be welcomed and embraced such its sinister intent but surely is.
Following track, The Fatalists sees Walker take lead vocals for the only time within the album. With pulsating electronics and shimmering harmonies, the song shuffles and glides through ears, vocals shaping its honest heart and melodies colouring its electro pop scented landscape. As with all tracks, shadows and light embrace and collude; often challenging each other or as here uniting in solemn and rousing beauty.
Even more galvanic and masterful is Nothing You, a lead single if ever we heard one. As its creative kindling smoulders, there is an air of excited intrigue and magnetic compulsion awoken; anticipation swiftly fed with a kinetic canter of creative virulence. With voracious hooks and grooves woven into one deliciously persuasion, the outstanding song is one virulence driven adventure unafraid to change gait and energy on a twist of a note as it pounds, pulses, and provokes the passions with irrepressible majesty.
The album closes with the melodic croon of Live Your Life, a gentle and darkly tender but still shadow wrapped incitement and reminder to find the strength and believe in being yourself. It is a fine smouldering and seductive end to Defeat’s most impressive and enjoyable encounter yet. All of the potential of their previous releases has been realised within Rise creating something deserving of the richest attention.
Rise will be released April 14th digitally and Ltd Ed CD with pre-ordering available now @ https://defeatmusic.bandcamp.com/album/rise
Pete RingMaster 06/04/2017
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