‘With Might And Main’ is the debut album from alternative metal quintet Defences, formed in Hertfordshire in 2013. Having spent the past four years defining their sound, the band make a clear statement here with a record underpinned by hope and positivity. Fittingly, the record kicks off with a rallying cry to move beyond dreams into reality, ghostly voices echoing across atmospheric strings and piano.
Recent single, ‘Let You In,’ sees the band embrace their metalcore origins, the breakdown combining a surge of dense guitar riffs with guitarist Calum Wilmot’s screams: “Trying to ignore all the signs that I’m in too deep, Will you be the one to save me?” Symbolising the way that vulnerability can be a balancing act of risk vs reward, this aggressive section provides the ideal counterpart to Cherry Duesbury’s silky, trusting vocals.
‘Grow’ bursts in with thunderous drumming and distorted guitars. As Duesbury and Wilmot exchange vocal lines the atmosphere remains relentlessly positive, reflected in the lyrics: “And I refuse to believe this is the end of me… there’s still so much I want to be.” ‘Oh Stranger’ is similarly uplifting, featuring a memorable chorus and Wilmot’s raspy, hardcore-inspired vocals in the bridge.
Although the album is resolutely optimistic, the tempo varies from track to track. ‘Beneath the Surface’ races through, attacking with screams of “I fear for my life, am I losing my mind?” yet ‘Gravity’ is dominated by clean vocals and even has a brief moment of just the piano and voice. Throughout the album Duesbury’s unique vocal tone is rich and melodic, soaring above the music.
‘With Might And Main’ is a great record for Defences to debut with – commercial enough for rock radio play, while avoiding some common trappings of contemporary metalcore bands. Stylistically, Duesbury’s distinctive vocals will aid their success; as a band, the determined positivity so audible in their music will definitely help them going forward.
‘With Might And Main’ by Defences is out now.
Words by Clare O’Shea (@Clare_OShea)