(Photo via nationalunderground.org)
‘Metal’ is a massively loaded word amongst the vast majority of music listeners. For the majority, it evokes images of Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osborne biting the head of a bat off on stage, or the caricatures of metal bands not helped by the ridiculous costumes worn by the 2006 Eurovision winners Lordi, who look like they were a group of particularly committed Lord of the Rings fans who had got lost on the way to a convention, and found themselves on a stage in the middle of Athens.
Deafheaven, however, conform to none of these clichés. Musically or otherwise. Sunbather, the band’s sophomore LP, which was created after a concerted re-modelling of the band, with their bass, guitar and drummers all being replaced with new blood is a sublime effort. Sure, the album continues to feature the concerted heavily distorted guitar sounds that run throughout metal. However, it becomes clear on the opening track of Sunbather, ‘Dream House’ that Deafheaven are not a band that are content to exist comfortably within a single genre. Halfway through the track, the heavy guitars and uninterpretable vocals fade away, leaving a maze of shoegazey arpeggioing clean, echoey and reverb laden guitars. This tendency to drain the metal away continues throughout the album.
Admittedly, describing Deafheaven as ‘new music’ may be an egregious injustice to the band’s previous efforts – 2010’s Demo EP, and 2011’s Roads to Judea LP.