Friday, October 16, 2015

New Bermuda Review

New Bermuda

Deafheaven's 2013 album Sunbather managed to mix the intensity of black metal with shoegaze guitars and post-punk emotional heft. It earned them the love of Pitchfork, and the scorn of TRUE BLACK METAL fans. I hated it at first, but have grown to love it. What I liked best about the album wasn't the soft, atmospheric elements, but rather the way they used black metal elements (blast beats, screeched vocals, tremelo picking) to convey a range of non-evil emotions. Too much of black metal is obsessed with being dark and evil and scary, and it gets boring and annoying. Deafheaven used that sonic template to express feelings of longing, desperation, class angst, romantic yearning. 

So what do they do for their follow up, New Bermuda? They throw the shoegaze elements out the window for the most part, instead mixing elements of thrash into their mix. Some people have been let down by this, but to me it seems like one of the few real directions left to them. They could have made Sunbather Pt. 2, but they seemed to have said all they needed to on that album. They could have gone down the Wolves in the Thrown Room path and make something totally atmospheric and not metal at all. It's probably not a coincidence that in the wake of being accused of being false metal by purists, the group decided to show the haters just how metal they could be.

Not that the album doesn't have pretty parts. What makes Deafheaven, and New Bermuda, such a step above your average black metal album is the way they are able to incorporate a melodicism and prettiness into their songs, even with the screeched vocals and pounding drums. It's what makes their music so effective - they know when to be harsh, and that dynamics, changes in tempo, and some soft edges can make the music hit that much harder. 

In fact, I may like this album more than Sunbather because it is more consistent. There is less of the ambient filler, less interludes, less quiet parts. Highly recommended.

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