By Gareth Watkins
You, dear reader, will be in one of three positions vis-à-vis Deafheaven. You may like them, possibly love them, as the band who showed that the metal world, all bullet belts and corpse paint, was so fragile that a pink album cover could tear it apart or you may hate them as the progenitors of “hipster metal.” For those of you in the first category: the new Deafheaven album is different from but as good as Sunbather. Go and buy it. If you’re in the second category, you’re missing out, but you’ll never know it.
Third position: you may have never heard of them. Deafheaven is a San Franciscan quintet (originally a duo) that dragged themselves out of bohemian poverty and onto stages around the world on the strength of the aforementioned Sunbather, according to Metacritic the best-reviewed release of 2013. They weren’t the first band to combine black metal and post rock, they may not be the best (their split-EP-mates Bosse De Nage arguably hold that crown), but they’re the band it’s easiest to see traces of Mogwai and Slowdive in if black metal isn’t your thing.
New Bermuda’s major change from its predecessor is the incorporation of thrash riffs, traditional guitar solos and a harshening of the band’s black metal influence, sounding at times like the late and much lamented Altar of Plagues, at others like Bay Area thrashers Exodus jamming with Japanese screamo act Envy. Their metal cred is definitely on the rise as elsewhere in the album they prove that they are still able to muster up lush, tropical guitar interludes and haunting piano melodies.
It would be a shame if this increase in chugging, grinding riffage straight from their hometown’s ‘80s glory days is an attempt to appease their haters. It would be a shame that a band this good spent a single second thinking about what anybody thinks.Deafheaven, New Bermuda