24 Oct 2015

Deafheaven / New Bermuda (album review)

DEAFHEAVEN. Deafheaven. D E A F H E A V E N. My kinda metal band. The most divisive-seeming metal band in the world are despised by a lotta metal purists, for ummm, dressing a bit like they're in an M and S advert, instead of dressing a bit more 'tribally', and including some wider influences in their sound, but musically they're among the most innovative, ruthless fuckers operating in world music today. This is their third or fourth full length release, following some more standard ones that nobody listened to THEN the masterpiece that is Sunbather, 2013's finest non-My Bloody Valentine release.

Removing all the pretensions that the more theatrical aspects of metal are associated with, Deafheaven are probably the only band to make this kinda frightening racket that you could comfortably have a pint (or cocktail pitcher) with at 'spoons; they're fronted by someone called George Clarke, and he certainly doesn't wear any masks or capes, while the rest of the band don't seem to have any stage names which prophecise death and suffering on those that don't believe in metal. I bet the Motley Crue would fucking hate them.

This new album is called New Bermuda, and it does what Sunbather did ever so will; venomous, cutting black metal that, like one big Scalextric set, whizzes 'round and 'round viciously, before flying off the metaphorical track into blissful, euphoric dream-pop. No more is this apparent than on the opening suite, Brought To Water, which mixes George Clarke's hissing screams and some lethal black metal riffing with gorgeous jangly bits, that come in abruptly, but begin to seamlessly blend in with Clarke's vocals towards the end of the song.

Starting the other way round, Baby Blue is seemingly more tender, starting off with what could really be a Galaxie 500 instrumental swish, but the guitar gets a tiny bit more monotonous, and dreamy, and start to build, and you know what's coming; Deafheaven aren't going to give you a ten minute long dream-pop song; nope; Baby Blue builds to showcase one of Clarke's most intense vocal deliveries, with big guitar riffs making the song sound just downright MASSIVE. Their sound here is maybe the best I've heard it, incorporating the swirling guitars of Ride, the building intensity of Godspeed! and some vocals that the likes of Oli Sykes and Corey Taylor could have only have ever dreamed of delivering.

Every single song (or maybe 'suite' is a more appropriate word) on this album, of which there are five, manages to deliver that heavy, visceral black metal Deafheaven are notorious for, and fuse it with ethereal euphoria in a way that never seems obvious, or predictable, and is absolutely heavenly. For the 47 minutes of its runtime, it's one of those rare albums that remain absolutely gripping from start to finish, every second being part of one big journey. Sure, you can take the easy, elitist, that's-not-metal-because option, dismiss it as 'hipster metal', and get on with your day, but if you do, maybe you need to have a good long look in the mirror, take your cape off and in an ever-so-sophisticated way, remove your head from your arse.


(written by calum cashin)