Deafheaven – Sunbather

Posted: 26/06/2013 in Album Review
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Deafheaven - Sunbather

This writers favourite metal album of 2011, Deafheaven‘s Roads to Judah, was a starkly quiet/loud mix of shoegaze and black metal. Hardly a new idea but more equally incorporated and natural than the rest of the ‘blackgaze’ scene. Although black metal it felt more at home in the US metal underground than the European elite. A fact confirmed by its release on Deathwith Inc records – Jake Bannon of Converge’s label. An excellent record though it is, it sounds like a band heading for greater things.

Sunbather is accordingly a more ambitious project. The shoegaze takes centre stage and there is more subtlety. It’s much more digestible for the metal unenlightened and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them as an ATP fixture. That’s not to say there isn’t some pummelling blast beats in there. Vertigo and the title track would satisfy the most ardent of the corpse painted, but the fusion of genres feels completely natural throughout. Opening track Dreamhouse somehow makes black metal sound nice.

Even the art work is miles away from metal cliches. It’s pinky orange colour is apparently designed to evoke closing your eyes in bright sunlight.

A huge influence of Swans looms over. There are acoustic guitars in places and the harsh drone into neofolk of Please Remember wouldn’t sound out of place of Soundtracks for the Blind.

The only problem really is the sporadic appearances of vocalist George Clarke. One of the best vocalists in metal at the moment he’s not used nearly to his full potential. Right in the middle of the album there is an 11 minute instrumental gap?

Minor blip aside this is a brilliant, daring album and is almost certainly going to be one of the albums of the year.

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