Everyone’s favourite album of the year isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, but it’s still pretty fucking ace.
In 2013, Deafheaven released their second album ‘Sunbather’ and the heavy music world collectively jumped on the Kiss Ass Express, pulled out of Best Band Ever Station, and rode it all the way down to Forever Riding Deafheaven’s Dick Central. So in other words, ‘Sunbather’ was hailed as being one of the best modern metal albums. Ever. Of all time. The praise (suitably justified) far outweighed the criticisms, so much so that even if the band pulled their own Bill Buckner (circa '86 World Series) moment they’d probably be just as loved. Now history seems to be repeating itself, as the California boys' new album, ‘New Bermuda’, is been hailed as the musical equivalent of Citizen Kane or The Last Of Us; another triumph of man’s endless war with his emotions, which then translates into the music itself. Thus, this reviewer has to objectively ask: Is it really THAT fucking good?
Well…no, not quite. But it’s still a fantastic record in its own right.
These five songs were recorded live to tape at 25th Street Recording in Oakland, CA and at the Atomic Garden Recording Studio blah blah blah – you don’t really care about that. What you should care about is that this record is 45 minutes packed full of melodic black and death metal, mixed in with some very atmospheric post-metal and quaint shoegaze moments, all creating an engaging soundscape for the listener to be drawn into. Now, that mix of genres probably sounds absolutely bonkers to the uninitiated reading – trust us, we know – but once you spend some time with ‘New Bermuda’, you'll hopefully find that this merging of styles doesn’t ever once feel shoe-horned. Moreover, the inability of most to fully pigeon-hole the band is forever going to be an ace up the group's sleeve moving forward from such a frenzied and yet polished sounding album. What's presented is a collection of well-planned, incredibly articulate tracks that work together both in isolation and as a collective.
The near-constant tremolo picking, the thundering bass and blast beats, the throaty emotive and damn-near indecipherable screams, and the prominent wall of sound nature of Deafheaven's music is all still intact, if not more refined. There has been some expansion in the guitar writing (and to be fair, the song-writing in general) with far stronger solos and riffs being incorporated (check out 'Brought To The Water' for that). The only criticism (if we can call it that) is that while the band has been progressing and honing their craft since 2011's 'Roads Of Judah' (and 2010's demo, if want to go a little further back), this feels like a baby-step forward instead of a giant leap. It's worth stressing, it's a very good baby-step however, that will be commended and congratulated all around, but for this writer, Deafheaven's best is yet to come.
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Deafheaven offer another professional, competent and important record. If you've heard 'Sunbather', then you're basically acquainted with the development 'New Bermuda' can offer you. Now, that's not such a bad thing per se, as the preceding album was impressive, but this is just a little more of the same. It's still in the elite metal releases of 2015, just don't expect it to completely redefine the metal world.
‘New Bermuda’ is an album that most music publications and outlets around the world will claim to be better and more important than the second coming of Christ, and we’re hear to tell you that yeah, this is a pretty damn good record. Maybe not quite the best heavy album of The Year Of Our Lord 2015, but one that really is worth your time and cash monies, so don't miss out on it.
1. Brought To The Water
3. Baby Blue
4. Come Back
5. Gifts For The Earth