Well, they’re back! Deafheaven have been taking the world by storm (either positively or negatively) since the release of their demo in 2010 and up through New Bermuda‘s release in 2015. While that album didn’t settle with me as an instant classic, the bands 2013 album Sunbather is a phenomenal work of art that stirred up more feelings than any record in recent memory. I mean, people really fucking hate that album and this band and, honestly I don’t get the negative feelings. But, what do I know? I’m sure I’ll catch flack for this review just for “showing support to hipster black metal garbage.” But then again, since when do I give a shit what people think?
As previously stated, I wasn’t a huge fan of New Bermuda. It was good and had some rad songs on it, but over all it just didn’t strike a chord with me, but when Deafheaven announced their new album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, I was totally on board. The band is back to form in a big, bad way and it’s not their normal form whatsoever. New Bermuda felt like an attempt to continue Sunbather, but OCHL feel like the band channeling their inner This Will Destroy You. The atmosphere has been slackened and the band has experimented with sounds that they have not in the past.
Post-rock has taken the spotlight on much of this album and especially on the albums opener “You Without End.” The seven-and-a-half minute track boasts haunting female spoken word mixed with trembling atmosphere and George Clarke’s vocals actually in the forefront and not blending into the back-end of the track. The mesmerizing piano intro to the track is lovely and inviting and serves as a perfect introduction to the diversity and experimentation of the album.
“Honeycomb” opens with odd, seemingly off sounds before bursting into a sound much more indicitive of Deafheaven, but more polished and structured. We got a bit of this vibe on Sunbather and a bit more on New Bermuda, but the band has clearly mastered the crisp, textured structure at this juncture. The song runs an astonishing eleven minutes and it’s well worth it. It’s fast, blackened and terrifying, which is a great counter to the albums opening salvo. As we inch towards the end of this track, it turns riffy and the post-rocking elements reemerge.
Next we enter “Canary Yellow,” which is actually the only track I heard from the album until I got the physical record in the mail a few days ago. I absolutely love this song and it’s simplistic, hypnotic styling. This also happens to be the longest track on the album and, once again, the length is welcomed. This track feels very much like a Sunbather b-side, as the atmosphere is very heavy and the instrumentation shares many similarities. Luckily, the band has diversified it enough as to keep it indicitive of OCHL. The drumming on this track is thunderous and some of the best on the record. I can definitely see this album drawing in more real black metal fans based on this track alone. Similar to the song previous, this track switches gears towards the end and takes a different approach, which is spectacular for the bit it lasts before jumping back into step.
With “Near” we get closer to a track of typical length for most bands. Albeit, most bands are not Deafheaven. This is a gorgeous, haunting track that feels half Pink Floyd, half Explosions In The Sky, which happens to be a concept that I didn’t know I needed in my life. The shoegaze guitars are beautifully choreographed and the execution of the song as a whole is mind-blowing. Definitely a stand-out track with it’s lovely instrumentation and clear vocals.
“Glint” begins and immediately makes me think of the opening track from Heaven In Her Arms most recent album White Halo, which is wonderful. It’s a mid-paced, melodic-yet-melancholic work that expands elements from throughout the album thus far and adds odds and ends to create a new atmosphere all together. When the track forms into the post-blackened madness we all anticipated, it keeps in line with the aforementioned Heaven In Her Arms, as the vocals are pushed to the back a bit and the haunting instrumentation feels very Sunbather. This is a stunningly beautiful, nearly-eleven minute track.
“Night People” feels like a mix of the first track “You Without End” and “Near” with it’s male/female mixed clean vocals. It’s definitely a different vibe than we’ve heard on the album, but it comes as a nice break from the tremelo picking and blast beats. This is a stripped down, smooth track that feels like it would be more at home closer to the middle of the album than the end.
With “Worthless Animal” we head back toward the ten-minute-song styling that we know Deafheaven for and, while this track starts out smooth and polished like it’s predecessor, the vocals are wretched and wicked. The bass is incredible on this track and stands out moreso than on previous songs on the LP. Around the four-minute mark, the track jumps a few steps and morphs into a cohesive blackened post-rock track, where it keeps its footing for the remainder of the albums run time.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this output from Deafheaven, I must say that over all, the number of tracks I “liked” outweighs the number of tracks that I “loved.” With only seven tracks, the stand outs to me are “Canary Yellow” and “Near,” while the other tracks simply have enjoyable moments. I am also not a fan of the artwork for the album, but that could just be me being nitpicky. I will say I’m stoked that I did indeed get new Deafheaven this year and maybe the rest of the album will grow on me even more throughout the remaining 2018.
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Label: Anti- Records
For Fans Of: Deafheaven, Heaven In Her Arms, This Will Destroy You