Deafheaven - New Bermuda
Deafheaven released their critically revered Sunbather just over two years ago, an album which won them high praise from unlikely sources. Pitchfork gave them an 8.9, theneedledrop a light 8 and all of a sudden the black metal crew were being simulataneously praised and rejected for being hipster metal. That title stemming mainly from the unusally bright musical passages spacing out their 100 minute long songs which ultimately rejected the routine. Then came an Adult Swim single, which continued on the Sunbather trajectory, which was no mean feat. So the release of New Bermuda was always going to come with a certain weight of expectation that the gang had to live up to this masterpiece of modern post-black-metal-shoe-gaze-funk. And it does. This album is better than Sunbather. It is simultaneously more blackened and more bright.
New Bermuda runs almost 50 minutes over 5 tracks. Each song takes you on a completely separate musical journey, and as bleak as that journey may be, I have not once found myself waiting on a song to end. Album opener ‘Brought to the Water’ was the first ‘single’ released which sets the tone for the record. Literally, the guitar tones and the overall feel of the album are different to previous efforts. Dischordant guitars strum over church bells, and then the album hath begun.
New Bermuda’s feeling is well represented by its cover.
George is questioning his previous dreams as his whole vision of perfect reality falls around him. “a multiverse of fuchsia and violet surrenders to blackness now” is riffing on the idea of the themes presented in Sunbather are ultimately false. He’s seen the other side of the fence and he wants out.
‘Baby Blue’ starts out beautifully, guitars chiming over some rhythmic drum fills. The bliss doesn’t last long however, as the drums disappear, the guitars begin to feel a little unsettling and the carnage begins. It may take in excess of 3 minutes, but when it hits the dissonance between the two sections is immediate and confronting. This track contains some of the more ambitious guitar work on the album, and the end groove of the track is riveting.
All I have said up until now is ultimately pointless however, because ‘Gifts for the Earth’ is Deafheaven’s best work. Instrumentally, parts of the song could be just as easily straight outta Joy Division, if not for the incessant drumming, however the vocals are alarmingly intense. It makes for amazing listening.
‘New Bermuda’ will surely convince a few metal purists that Deafheaven have the goods, not that they care what you think, they’ve made on of the finest albums of the year.
I give em’ an HD.