Live Review: Deafheaven, Divide & Dissolve

1 March 2019 | 11:29 am | Brendan Crabb

"Despite a penchant for the likes of classic rock and indie, the band hadn’t lost sight of its extreme metal roots."

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Social media bios don’t always afford an accurate description of what to expect from a support act. However, Melbourne crew Divide & Dissolve were on the money when they said they were “a heavy two-piece utilising drums, guitar, saxophone and live efx music designed to decolonise and dismantle white supremacy”.  

This scribe likely couldn’t have encapsulated their brand of doom/drone any better, a sonic gut-punch that was only enhanced within the live environment. Loud and abrasive, punters also listened attentively during an impassioned address dissecting cultural genocide, First Nations rights and racism. To borrow a line from a certain Canadian mad scientist of metal, their set was heavy as a really heavy thing. 

Black metal devotees, hipsters, grizzled males sporting Slayer and Deicide shirts and hardcore enthusiasts - all were present and correct as the headliners punctually arrived, greeted by rapturous applause. Such was the unifying appeal of California’s Deafheaven, a band who tear through sub-genres like Godzilla laying waste to Tokyo. 

An obvious focal point throughout the night was vocalist George Clarke, his banshee-like vocal approach and manic energy taking on another dimension in the live arena as he stalked the stage and head-banged furiously. He bristled with vein-popping intensity. The remaining members were well-honed, too, experienced hands at maintaining the sufficient sense of vigour, atmosphere and drama by this point in the game.

A truly ferocious Black Brick - a freshly unleashed B-side from latest full-length Ordinary Corrupt Human Love - was a standout, and reinforced that despite a penchant for the likes of classic rock and indie, the band hadn’t lost sight of its extreme metal roots. Honeycomb also raised the intensity and energy levels from both musicians and audience, while Sunbather’s most aggressive moments even elicited a circle pit and the most spirited audience response of the evening. A mere seven songs in a 75-minute display ensured this wasn’t an occasion for the casual fan, even if such a prospect actually exists for a band of this ilk. 

We live in a world where Deafheaven’s brutal, beautiful, confounding and forward-thinking music was capable of landing them a Grammy nomination. As the enthusiastic crowd surfers during the finale further reiterated, this set was a crushing reminder that such a sentiment was worth celebrating. 

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