Catch some rays with Deafheaven’s new record
Deafheaven are becoming quite a household name in the US black metal scene these days. They released a demo a few years ago, which I thought showed some serious promise. Their debut album Roads To Judah failed to grab a hold of me however, as by the time it came out the black metal/shoegaze sound had really worn thin on me. Even if Deafheaven were one of the better bands in the sound, I felt it had become bloated and overused, filled with tons of crappy one-man bedroom black metal projects from hipsters who want to be “trve kvlt” but don’t want to make any music that would scare their friends away.
Anyways, Deafheaven are back with their new album Sunbather - which is being streamed in full at Pitchfork - and this time around they have advanced their overall sound. It still has root in that black metal/shoegaze genre, it is warm and gentle interspersed with waves of more furious passage, but there are also some really good darker parts to it. The guitar melody lines work well within the structures of the songs and the dreamy post-rock sections tend to transition fluidly into the black metal sections. Ultimately, this album feels to me like taking a long walk along a desolate road. The sun is warm, and not oppressive, but there are alternate periods of intense feelings and gentle reflections.
I still feel that this kind of post-rock/shoegaze/black metal combination is a little overdone, but after the release of Fen’s Dustwalker, a phenomenal fusion of the genres, I am a little more lenient towards it. The vocals on Sunbather are fantastic, these utterly harrowing and grating shrieks that manage to sound good even over the more sun-drenched sections of songs. The production is great, every part comes through and sounds good. This might not be one of the top black metal-ish albums I’ve heard this year, but it is definitely worthy of your attention.
Sunbather, whose artwork was created by Nick Steinhardt of Touché Amoré, will be released on June 11th through Deathwish Inc.