by Jeevin Johal
VANCOUVER – Remember when the first Tony Hawk game came out for PlayStation and you were all like, “How can they possibly make this game any better?!” Then they blew your mind by adding manuals and reverts in “2” and “3,” making your grinds even more epic. By the time the fourth game came out, the creators had more or less perfected the platform, allowing them to focus on more elaborate levels and tricks. It sounds a lot like the trajectory of San Francisco band Deafheaven, who keep one-upping themselves with every release, and are receiving “sick scores” for their new album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, the fourth, and arguably most experimental in their ever-evolving discography.
Deafheaven is insanely tight. It isn’t unordinary for moments of chaotic personal turmoil to suddenly transition to more melodic and subdued moments of serenity, and although the darker moments still exist on Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, the band has taken to exploring more of the latter.
“We had the concept that the world needed something more positive at this time. Not so dark anymore,” explains guitarist Shiv Mehra. Given the current political state of the world, specifically that of the United States, it’s no wonder the gloomy quintet strove to create something less opaque.
Mehra, born in Kenya, emigrated to America with his family when he was 12 years old, and it’s no question that the America he resides in today doesn’t make it any easier on immigrants.
“I grew up in Africa, and when I came to the States, I guess I never really fit in, in any normal situation,” confesses Mehra. However, like many of us, this difficulty to immediately reform to the norm, would be the key ingredient in forging a lifelong passion for all things metal. “Somehow the punk and metal kids were easier to hang out with, so I just picked up a guitar.”
Mehra’s father would be the one to bestow his first axe upon him, and now that he’s got some chops, he’s joined forces with Dunable Guitars to create a Jeff Lynne inspired beauty of a six-string that will join him on Deafheaven’s current tour.
“[Lynne] is one of my favourites, and he used that guitar back in the ‘80s,” Mehra nerds out. Despite often being classified firstly as a black metal band, the influences on Mehra and company are vast, and this is a huge part of what makes their albums so exciting to listen to. Follow the band’s other guitarist Kerry McCoy on Instagram, and his t-shirt collection alone will paint a portrait of where some of their wild ideas come from.
On Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, Deafheaven continues to challenge themselves and their listeners. One of the most notable expressions of this is on the Chelsea Wolfe featured track “Night People,” where singer George Clark rests his iconic screech, opting for a subtler singing style.
“I do think for George, it was stepping out of his comfort zone,” explains Mehra. What was recorded is one of the band’s most subdued and unique tracks, and proof that their experiments are working.
In conclusion, Deafheaven is excellent at producing albums that, although experimental, retain focus and allow them to create cohesive and artistic packages of amazing tunes that flow organically together.
Deafheaven plays the Imperial (Vancouver) on August 11.Deafheaven, The Imperial