Deafheaven: New Bermuda
Hit play, and the moment church bells and garroted drones fade into earshot it’s clear you’re in for a special ride. Your face is smashed in by blast beats and half-time dischord, and then they launch into a kick ass riff that’d make Slayer proud. New Bermuda blasts out of hell into the Californian sunshine.
Deafheaven exploded on release of their sophomore record Sunbather. They copped their fair share of flack too. A Black Metal album with pink cover art, WTF?! They must be hipsters! But having the balls to stray way outside Black Metal’s comfort zones is exactly what makes Deafheaven so curious. For many, including myself, Sunbather‘s mix of blast beats, gut wrenching shrieks and psychedelic interludes was interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying.
New Bermuda is a more fulfilling affair. It trades in a heavier and diverse sound; the riffs are a gutsier, and the melodic passages more ambient. George Clarke’s shrieks are more concise and percussive, draped in reverb. Daniel Tracey’s drumwork is somewhat playful which adds a bounce to what could easily be an overwhelmingly oppressive listen. And there are pianos.
Like their US peers Wolves in the Throne Room (and to a lesser degree Liturgy), Deafheaven lift Black Metal out of its violent and nihilistic cave into a realm that’s cathartic and almost uplifting. Sure, they’re angry, but the sound is majestic. At times it soars, upwards towards hope. Which is probably why so many Black Metal freaks despise them. Is this a pop music version of Black Metal? No fucking way. I guarantee this would terrify and turn off anyone unfamiliar or uninterested in this particular genre. But Deafheaven aren’t afraid to break the scene’s shackles and daub their world in shades of violet, turquoise, pthalo blue and yes, even a little pink.
Maybe I’m just in the mood for some angst, but there’s an arty moodiness on New Bermuda that really resonates with me. I can understand why the Kvelt elite are annoyed, but I say screw ’em. Go and buy this.