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Is it blissful?
July 15, 2013 8:49 PM   Subscribe

Deafheaven are a black metal/shoegaze/post-rock/emo/ambient/pop-metal/what-have-you band from San Francisco. The band consists of vocalist George Clarke and guitarist/songwriter Kerry McCoy and are signed to Deathwish Inc.

They were recently joined by Shiv Mehra on guitar, Daniel Tracy on drums, and bassist Stephen Clark. Their latest album, Sunbather, received best new music on Pitchfork. Reviews of the album have been glorious, with comparisons to Wolves in the Throne Room, Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, Envy, Alcest, and many more.

They just finished a tour with Marriages. They're playing at The Echoplex in Los Angeles on August 23rd.

Some reviews:

Spin: Sunbather, the second LP from San Francisco black-metal modifiers Deafheaven, sculpts the anxiety, torment, and potential release endemic to their genre into a crafty package that lasts about as long as an episode of Homeland or Mad Men. But despite its spans of roiling drums, serrated vocals, and brushfire guitars, this shouldn't be mistaken as some wintry Scandinavian scree: It's much softer and brighter than that, a notion broadcast well in advance by its summery title and salmon-colored cover.

AV Club: If Sunbather (which is made up of seven seamless tracks that collectively last an hour) has a mission statement, it’s the title track, which opens with a shoegazing wall of noise before segueing into a half-time groove. Then, after being lulled into a dreamy state of relaxation, the double bass kicks back in and, all of the sudden, the listener is thrust back into a world of carefully controlled destruction. Deafheaven’s masterful control of these dynamics—loud and soft, fast and slow, metallic and melodious—are exactly why the band is so divisive; the trade-off being that those traits also make 14-minute opuses like “Vertigo” so engaging.

Beats Per Minute: But all these talking points and controversies amount to very little the second you hit ‘play’ on this album. Not only is there nary a flaw to be found in its perfectly-sculpted structure, it’s also a journey album, epic in a way so few albums take the risk to be anymore. This is a disc that not only revolutionizes black metal as we know it, but breathes new life into post-rock, as well. These are some of the most hauntingly gorgeous guitar fireworks that the genre has produced in years, long since most of the players in other bands have fallen victim to cliches and mediocrity.

Scene Point Blank: “Irresistible” is the first of three interludes on the record which serve to bridge the moods of the album and also lets us see a little deeper into what makes this band work. “Irresistible” is a gentle, piano led composition that houses a feeling of watchful hope before leading into the swirling emotion of the title track. Passages of introspective quiet punctuate the raging soundscapes wrought by the band and they allow a little breathing space from the assured intensity before the break back into the midst of absolute torment. The shift into higher gear after these moments of solitude are drenched in the truth that the storm always follow, that even in comfort you can never be sure of safety and whilst you know the shadow will be cast, you are never prepared.

An artist-on-artist interview from the Chicago Reader.

A live video of them covering Mogwai's Punk Rock/Cody with "Dream House" beginning at 8:17.

You can listen to their first album, Roads to Judah, along with their demo and their sophomore album on their bandcamp.
posted by gucci mane (43 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Full disclosure: this is my first post. I just saw this band play live a few nights ago and I was completely blown away. Sunbather is definitely my favorite album of the year so far and my jaw dropped when I saw them play "Violet", the first song off their first album. The first four minutes of that song are almost incomparable and I don't think I have seen any band replicate the bliss that those minutes convey. I also want to add that Shiv Mehra and Daniel Tracy played a show at my house in another band of theirs a year ago, but I have only met them that time. They have not written music for the band and are merely part of the touring lineup. I hope that is okay. I would not consider them "friends" of mine, although I have met them once.
posted by gucci mane at 8:55 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


i'm listening to this record as i type this.** it is my most-listened-to record of 2013.

if anyone would like to join me at aforementioned echoplex show, memail. i think i bought the last two tickets from origami vinyl.

great post. great band. great record.

**=the guys at deathwish records are class acts, btw. the download coupon that came with my vinyl copy didn't work for some reason; they made sure i was taken care of swiftly and properly.
posted by raihan_ at 9:08 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Prediction: Deafheaven is the band people will hate on next. Dumb name, too proggy for punks, too emo for metalheads, too screechy for indie rockers.

But Sunbather really is a glorious album. It's very much An Album - it deserves to be heard from beginning to end, through headphones, at uncomfortable volume. There's some really interesting music coming out these days that borrows a lot of black metal's sensibilities reworked to new ends: Deafheaven, Nachtmystium, Kvelertak, Horseback. All very different bands, but all drawing from the well of black metal. I like these bands a whole lot more than I liked black metal itself.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:13 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


But have you listened to it beginning to end, through headphones, at an uncomfortable volume, on weed?
posted by lordaych at 9:16 PM on July 15, 2013


Agreed that black metal is like a good well to draw water from and make ale and spirits if you will, but it's not all that great straight-up.
posted by lordaych at 9:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm checking out track 1 which came free with the Pitchfork review (is that a normal thing? I'm not cool). I'm surprised by how black-metally it really is so far, but am expecting quite a bit of variation to come. If this gets more people listening to Naglfar, Old Man's Child, Thyrane, and Dimmu Borgir then I will find that amusing and enjoyable to witness, because I liked those bands forever ago and they all have varying degrees of black-metal influence without being say, Emperor, and I'd be like "hey, I R COOLZ." The [at least harsh] vocals remind me most of Naglfar.
posted by lordaych at 9:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


raihan_ I guess I should also disclose that that post of yours was the inspiration behind this one. Sunbather has been my most listened to album so far this year and I consistently have it stuck in my head everywhere I go. I figured if I was ever going to make a first post then this is one I could do decent.
posted by gucci mane at 9:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finest record of the year of our lord 2013AD. It's damn near perfect.
posted by naju at 9:34 PM on July 15, 2013


Also I keep laughing every time I look at that hater-trolling chillwave-ish album cover.
posted by naju at 9:39 PM on July 15, 2013


Prediction: Deafheaven is the band people will hate on next. Dumb name, too proggy for punks, too emo for metalheads, too screechy for indie rockers.

In SF (where they're from) this is definitely what a lot of my metalhead friends say. I thought that first album was OK and they're not good live, haven't heard this one yet.

All the bay area cool kids are into the new Lycus album.
posted by bradbane at 10:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk: "Prediction: Deafheaven is the band people will hate on next. Dumb name, too proggy for punks, too emo for metalheads, too screechy for indie rockers."

I listened to Roads to Judah incessantly. But as with Alcest, I'd vacillate between "hm, would I listen to this if it didn't have that double kick?" and "what the hell, I love it, who cares."
posted by vanar sena at 10:04 PM on July 15, 2013


Also I keep laughing every time I look at that hater-trolling chillwave-ish album cover.
posted by naju at 12:39 AM on July 16


It looks like it runs iOS7
posted by four panels at 10:06 PM on July 15, 2013


lordaych: " If this gets more people listening to Naglfar, Old Man's Child, Thyrane, and Dimmu Borgir then I will find that amusing and enjoyable to witness"

It could work the other way too, though. Picture stereotypical metal dude thinking, "well I guess it's okay that there's no blast beats," followed by "I suppose every black metal band had some clean vocals every now and then" and "huh, I guess they turned the gain down a bit." Before he knows it, he's rocking out to Explosions in the Sky.
posted by vanar sena at 10:20 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh man. BitterOldPunk talked about this band on Twitter last week, and I immediately said "This is the metal band I've been looking for".

And they are.

Well done.
posted by Jimbob at 12:43 AM on July 16, 2013


IT IS FUCKING BLISSFUL
posted by mannequito at 1:16 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank you.
posted by motty at 1:27 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vanar sena: heh. Story of my life. The 17-year-old metal head version of me would probably love this album. But the 30-something follow up to him is obsessed with the new Jetman Jet Team release. Favourite shoegaze record of the year so far for me.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:35 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sunbather really is a superb record. It gives me the same impression as Godspeed! You Black Emperor -- I feel as if I hear something new on every listen.
posted by spiderskull at 1:39 AM on July 16, 2013


They're great. I have no problem with listening to stuff derided as hipster BM. I'd also recommend Bosse de Nage, who were on a recent split with Deafheaven. Kind of like Slint playing black metal.
posted by spectrevsrector at 2:27 AM on July 16, 2013


Yeah they're pretty excellent. The Bosse-de-Nage are a good shout too.

Also

http://i.imgur.com/mQYwK2B.png
posted by ACair at 4:19 AM on July 16, 2013


Tried it on a whim and I'm amazed that I like it. This is pretty amazing stuff. And I'm saying that as somebody who's tried repeatedly and failed repeatedly to appreciate metal in almost all of its subgenres.
posted by ardgedee at 4:29 AM on July 16, 2013


Their cover of Mogwai's Cody is excellent. They pay their respects to the origin and then make it their own without rendering it unrecognizable. That's what a good cover should do.

(Incidentally, Sunbather in entirety on YouTube. At least until it's taken down.)
posted by ardgedee at 4:31 AM on July 16, 2013


i like this but i'm kind of confused by the black metal categorization. they sound more like the old emo (now screamo) stuff i listened to in the 90s.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 4:40 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a fantastic album. I did not know about the Mogwai cover and am looking forward to checking out the entire first album!
posted by mountmccabe at 6:08 AM on July 16, 2013


Somebody already said "screamo", but nobody has yet dropped the word "blackgaze" into the conversation, so ... here it is.

(By the way, I like the album a lot.)
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:37 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a screamo apologist, this has no relations to screamo, imo.

This album is fantastic. They really evolved from Roads to Judah, and they did exactly what they needed to do--have some downtime in between songs, and bring in a drummer who can do something other than blast beats. What a great fucking album.

FYI Deathwish Inc is Jacob Bannon from Converge's record label.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:39 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a mere 8 songs from Deafheaven on Grooveshark, including a sampling from Roads to Judah and four tracks from a demo.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:42 AM on July 16, 2013


year of our lord 2013AD.

"AD" means "in the year of our lord".
posted by kenko at 7:56 AM on July 16, 2013


Oddly enough, 2013 translates to 'Anno Domini' in robo-language. However, to robots, 'Anno Domini' just means 'Royale with cheese.'
posted by FatherDagon at 8:54 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


i went to see these guys play at 285 kent here in brooklyn.. lots of sleepy opening acts combined with a poorly air conditioned space totally wore me down and three hours later they still hadn't hit the stage. i was done and had to leave.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:37 AM on July 16, 2013


I was going to see them at the barbary in Philly, but I had no one to go with and, frankly, this band rules but I just couldn't imagine them being very good live. I have a hard time enjoying post-rock shows.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:48 AM on July 16, 2013


Isis were certainly worth seeing live. /still listening to the album
posted by ersatz at 10:30 AM on July 16, 2013


Isis is one of my favorite bands and I've seen them many times, and they indeed put on the best show I ever saw. I was lucky enough to see them twice on their 10th anniversary tour.

But their also one of the reasons post-rock shows can be boring (I don't consider Isis post-rock), because Isis did it perfectly, everything else pales.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:35 AM on July 16, 2013


Thanks for this post - great band that I have never heard of...
posted by alfanut at 11:04 AM on July 16, 2013


Heard the Cody cover first, and loved it. I think it can be called metal. Maybe on the fringe, but still pretty metal-ly... Fringe metal is about as deep as I typically go (Agalloch was it, for a while.), but I like noisy noise and loudness. And Slayer, of course.

Speaking of Mogwai, and of post-rock shows, Mogwai's live show is (was, whence I last attended), pretty good. And loud.
posted by J0 at 1:58 PM on July 16, 2013


Sunn o))) of course, also, as metal that I like
posted by J0 at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


fuzzypantalones: I can sort of see the characterization, especially when it comes to screamo bands such as Cowboys Became Folk Heroes and such, but maybe not so much stuff like Drive Like Jehu (if you consider them screamo) or Indian Summer. The Italian style of screamo like Daitro and Raein may be a bit closer, but that also probably includes Envy, which I would say is a closer approximate (the artist-on-artist interview mentions that briefly I believe).
posted by gucci mane at 6:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I'm sure people have different opinions of their live show. I saw them here in Portland and the venue's PA nearly blew out because it couldn't handle it (I think the venue underestimated everything), but from my standpoint their songs were mostly perfect.
posted by gucci mane at 6:14 PM on July 16, 2013


Last one! A friend of mine described them like this: "Deafheaven is like emo hardcore middle school days gone tasteful."
posted by gucci mane at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2013


Music seems pretty OK but that's it. To me, the music's posture is more serious than its accomplishments warrant, considerable as those accomplishments may be.

YMMV
posted by mistersquid at 10:45 PM on July 16, 2013


To me, the music's posture is more serious than its accomplishments warrant,

IMO, this smacks to me of 'not cvlt enough'.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:52 AM on July 17, 2013


Sunn o))) of course, also, as metal that I like

I tried listening to Sunn O))). Just sounded like one guy tuning his guitar for half an hour, while the drummer slowly bashed things randomly.

Maybe they need to be seen live.
posted by Jimbob at 6:02 AM on July 17, 2013


"Maybe they need to be seen live." yes!!
posted by raihan_ at 1:06 PM on July 17, 2013


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