Live Review: Deafheaven, Divide & Dissolve

25 February 2019 | 1:25 pm | Nicolas Huntington

"For such a brutal blast-beat-heavy band, their sound is so multi-layered that it fills every nook and cranny of the room."

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It’s not the first time Deafheaven have hit the small sweaty stage at the Crowbar, but this time the genre-benders are hot off the release of their latest masterpiece Ordinary Corrupt Human Love.

Opening the sparsely populated Crowbar mosh are Divide & Dissolve, one of the most exciting two-piece acts our great land has ever produced. They blend neoclassical saxophone lines lathered in reverb with slow, brooding guitar fuzz, underpinned by the chug of thunderous drums. The sound is akin to a dust storm slowly engulfing a city, or the experience of watching a swarm of bees taking to a beekeeper's hand. In other words, a full audio onslaught, with the opening piece almost becoming uncomfortable at times due to its overwhelming abrasiveness. 

Coming all the way from San Francisco, the five-piece blackgaze troupe Deafheaven waste no time launching into the brutal assault of Brought To The Water, singer George Clarke’s now almost waist-length hair windmilling around like a ceiling fan in need of a service. The love for previous release New Bermuda continues with Come Back. Each track provides us with the beautiful post-rock/shoegaze bridges that we love from Deafheaven. The crowd aren’t your usual metal crowd, the mosh is relegated to a small circle, while less physical punters' jaws are dropping one by one at how unbelievably good Deafheaven sound. 

For such a brutal blast-beat-heavy band, their sound is so multi-layered that it fills every nook and cranny of the room. Highlights of latest album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is without a doubt the phenomenal combo of singles Honeycomb and Canary Yellow. They're tracks which push the fast, intense blasts and softer shoegaze aspects of Deafheaven's sound into new territory, even chucking in some very tasty guitar solos. Lucky for us, we get this phenomenal combo live and by God does it sound even thicker live. The thunder of double bass drums from Daniel Tracy rumbles your heart while the vocals and soul-crushing stare of singer George Clarke makes you wonder if you have actually been transported to another universe – it’s intense, beautiful stuff. Closing their set with some love for Sunbather, the title track closes their 90-minute set before an encore of Dream House sends us home with some bruises. The live experience of Deafheaven is equal parts transcendental, terrifying and neck-bruising.