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Deafheaven – New Bermuda

Published:

Last Updated on 07:53 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

Genre: Black Metal
Country: U.S.A.
Label: Anti Records
Year: 2015

There are certain times in which the music reviewer will inwardly stumble upon the “Into The Pandemonium” syndrome. Meaning that one will face an album which will pose a dilemma to oneself, due to its somehow heretical take on its sub-genre, and also because of its divisive effect on both listeners and reviewers. It is quite rational then to ask oneself: “Is this album an equivalent of Celtic Frost’s “Into The Pandemonium”, which had been rejected by its contemporary musical press and audience, but has seen been recognized as a cornerstone?”. Whereupon the reviewer may lose a chance of presenting and recognizing the value of a timeless diamond at the moment of its birth. Yet, the danger of the album in question ending up a “Cold Lake” and not an “Into The Pandemonium” is always existent.

Those were my first thoughts concerning Deafheaven’s third creation, “New Bemuda”.. Happily, in my opinion, the album is neither “Into The Pandemonium” (it’s not groundbreaking and it’s much more accessible by black metallers than “Sunbather” was), nor “Cold Lake” (the album is not bad). Its essence lies somewhere in between, as a logical and legitimate continuation of their highly popular second album.

From the beginning it is evident that Deafheaven have darkened their sound (the cover artwork also creates suspicions). Guitar riffs have acquired a blacker mantle, though their essence is rooted in post-rock. Namely, they follow the recipe of Alcest, filtering their wandering post-rock starting point through a black metal prism, cementing grandiose soundscapes, which have however nothing of the Scandinavian scene menace. Post-black as a term, finds here its culmination, technically speaking; Deafheaven have left behind the morbid facade of black metal (which I highly doubt that they had ever seriously embraced), a fact that can be judged be each listener, according to his preferences. Morphologically, their extreme riffs, though they appear to always meander forward, they are essentially rigid, or perhaps monolithic. They lack the multifarious nature of Norway of yore. Their deployment is sentimentally pleasant (and predictable), without elements of disharmony. These parts accumulate energy, which is released through the ultra melodic moments which grace the album, and nudge towards dream pop. To sum it up, post-rock sailings that know how to use melodies in a proper sequence: that is the heart of the band.

Some thrash influence have been over-highlighted (by the community). Essentially, thrash is restricted in some alternations and guitar parts which are slightly reminiscent of Bay Area, as in the starting part of “Luna”. In “Baby Blue” one can find a spread-out, “wide” guitar solo, which is welcome in the melodic elegy of the track. In comparison to “Sunbather”, here the bass guitar is more evident, and in the last track it reaches an almost post-punkish (Joy Division-esque) attitude. The aforementioned melodic moments have something of the British rock scene in them (McCoy himself admitted in a recent interview that Oasis have been an influence) – listen to “Gifts For The Earth’s” closing part. The important thing is that these heterogeneous influences are woven together by the band in an intelligent way, resulting not in rational leaps, though the melodic moments could be less spread.

“Ugliness stretching toward the chandelier” is mentioned in the lyrics of “Come Back”, the album’s possible highlight, but in “New Bermuda” there is no ugliness. Only beauty that stretches towards the chandelier, leisurely proceeding, like clouds wandering above the Caribbean. Deafheaven’s third album is a work of art with an excellent structural sense of melody, which however occasionally fades out during its daydreaming. Certainly more accessible to the metal audience than its predecessor, it is not a masterpiece, but is nevertheless a very good album, defining the term “post-black metal”. If one is into post rock or well-structured melodies, then the album is mandatory, otherwise tread carefully.

4/6

 

Athotep Nyarl
Athotep Nyarl
I Dream of Lars Ulrich Being Thrown Through the Bus Window Instead of My Mystikal Master Kliff Burton

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