Thursday, November 7, 2013

Album Review: Deafheaven -Sunbather

*** out of *****

This is an odd one. Deafheaven are a metal band (you can quibble about putting the words, dark, post or shoegaze in front of that word) who provide some exceedingly strong musical passages over a deliberately scream-o singing style. The two are pretty much polar opposites on Sunbather, an album that can be in the same breath glorious and frustrating.

The brainchild of George Clarke and Kerry McCoy (who bring in other musicians to round things out once everything is written) Deafheaven have toyed with lots of different metal styles but things hear are long, drawn out, exciting sonic adventurers mixed with short blissful/experimental breaks. The opening "Dreamhouse" is a perfect summation of things; uplifting in its heaviness as drums pummel (Daniel Tracy is killer), guitars shine while the ride ebb's and flows for over 9 minutes.

After the inspiring opener, a pattern forms as the long play rolls out (and this was obviously meant to be listened to straight through), down/experimental short tune, long metal outing, down/experimental short tune. "Irresistible" is a piano breather, before the title track traverses peaks and valleys. "Windows" takes a found sound experimental approach to the lyrics/vocals with both a drug deal and a pastor preaching captured; it would have been very interesting to see them use this technique over one of their metal numbers.   

The singing style of Clarke is pure throat wrenching all the time, zero let down. While an interesting sonic addition to things for a song, or pieces, it really losses it's impact over the course of the LP's hour run time. Lyrics are non existent, you will need to read the lyric book to have any idea what is being projected and that is a detriment as music like this screams (well not literally) for vocal augmentation to raise it where it belongs.

The closer "The Pecan Tree" is a monster which slams into a dark start and moves to lush arraignments to finish, the music all over is alive and pulsing, but the vocals are a tough pill to swallow, while an interesting curiosity to start they don't hold up with the playing for the long haul.

I wanted to like this more then I do. The concept style and experiment fits neatly with what I go for. I am not against these kind of vocals wholesale, but in this case the blending of the styles just doesn't work and with music this damn good I think it is a shame. Those 3 stars are all for the playing. 

Support the band here, buy and stream the album here, and you can peep some video below:

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