Deafheaven hold a weird place within the music industry, especially in the black metal scene, in which you either love them, or call them hipster bullshit. Their stellar 2013 release Sunbather took aspects of black metal and mixed it with shoegaze and gave it an overall more emotional tone. It swayed through lyrics of depression and then jolted about love.
This new album however is a lot more impactful and heavy then their last album. They took the black metal aspects and turned the dial to 11, silencing some critics who claimed ‘they aren’t black metal’. However similar in concept, the new album expands and tweaks a few ideas they have had in their past.
Lyrically it is a clash of beauty and despair, an epic tale of struggle and confinement. “I’ve boarded myself inside. I’ve refused to exit/There is no ocean for me/There is no glamour/ I gaze at it from the oven of my home/Only the mirage of water ascending from the asphalt” screams the lead vocalist on the track ‘Luna’ highlighting these dilemmas. However, his screaming is sometimes hard to understand (which is pretty common in metal sadly) but they are best enjoyed when you close your eyes and let the moody sensual guitar riffs, the onslaught of noise and the soaring vocals place you inside the song.
The album is pretty short, clocking in about 47minutes. This is mainly because the album cut down on the interludes that would often act as a break in between songs on their last album. I actually like this edition, sometimes those long, and drawn out interludes would distract me, take me out of the moment. Without them every song flows into one another, giving you a consistent listen, not one track on this album is lacking in any way. However the band did kind of just insert these into the end of the song, with a piano or guitar slowly fading away. A slower track in the midst of this onslaught would have also helped, giving you just a slight break so you could take it all in.
Instrumentation wise the album is also solid and continues to push the band further. The chugging on ‘Luna’, the use of pianos and organs on ‘Come Back’ show Deafheaven incorporating different musical styles into one, blending them into the typical black metal styles. The fast and impactful drumming never feels out of place and blends perfectly with every other instrument at play, something some bands find difficult to do. Some bands will just have the drummer going one hundred miles an hour, even when the song doesn’t call for it. However some of the instrumentation is a bit inconsistent through the album, but it doesn’t take much away from the album as a whole.
Overall Deafheaven have taken what is great about them an expanded on it, taken it into new areas. The music is still an emotional journey, but one that feels natural and flowing. However only a slight improvement over Sunbather, it does what a good follow up album should do. I can only image what this band has in store for the future.
Written by Rhys Prka
Fav Tracks: Brought To The Water, Luna, Come Back
Least Fav: Baby Blue
Release Date: Oct 2