Deafheaven’s 2013 sophomore album, Sunbather, redefined the boundaries of what we perceive to be Metal. Metal purists were infuriated with the sacrilegious ‘watering down’ of metal with shimmering Shoegaze sounds and the halcyon instrumental segues that seamlessly string Sunbather’s songs together. However, the majority of listeners welcomed the unique sound, which could easily have been the bastard child of Explosions in the Sky and Mastodon. Sunbather became one of the best-reviewed major albums of 2013, it unearthed the obscure music genre of Blackgaze, and even entered the conversation as a candidate for ‘Top 50 Metal Albums of All Time’.
The expectations for Deafheaven’s third release, New Bermuda, are daunting to say the least, but the San-Francisco quintet has not wavered in coming up with an equally compelling album to match Sunbather’s influence. New Bermuda is a tip of the hat towards the metal Nazis that demand adherence to a rigid and staccato power chord formula, but it simultaneously spites them on a myriad of song parts that evoke ethereal respites of shoegaze soundscapes. The album is 45 minutes of pure combatant moxie, complete with head-banging riffs, beautiful guitar epics, and the familiar euphonious screams of singer, George Clark, whose vocals sound like a caged wolverine.
“Brought to the Water” is the “ The Pecan Tree” of New Bermuda, with its triumphant call to arms in the intro to the album and magnanimous crescendo halfway through that eventually mellows, making this the signature song of the album
“Luna” begins as a headbanger’s wet dream that sees sinister overtones fall over double bass drums. The longest song on the album, “Luna” juxtaposes the shear ferocity and darkness of Deafheaven with its beautiful profound feelings of yearning and redemption. This track serves as a perfect microcosm of the Deafheaven aesthetic. “Baby Blue” lulls you into a warm womb of sensual melodies that are then incinerated by the deep vacuum of unrepentant hate and epic guitar solos.
In “Come Back” the romanticism of the band is on full display, as the lackadaisical guitars send nostalgic energy into what seems like a depressing arena of regret and loss, the hurt is almost too palpable. While “Gifts From Earth” can almost pass as post-punk at some junctures, and the final song tastefully ends the 45 min with “Layla”–esque piano play out.
New Bermuda is an offering of five equally intense and profound tracks that blend soft emotive instrumentals with an all encompassing darkness and brutish realness. Deafheaven has decidedly made this style of music their own, and they have reinforced their claim to it with their latest album. While the Deafheaven albums are contained hurricanes of brilliance, it is their live performance that elevates them to deity status and will continue to convert legions of open-minded music aficionados to their cause.