Rating:
8.5
Deafheaven - Sunbather
11 June 2013


01. Dream House
02. Irresistible
03. Sunbather
04. Please Remember [feat. Stéphane "Neige" Paut]
05. Vertigo
06. Windows
07. The Pecan Tree


Deafheaven is my favourite band. There is no denying this fact. Roads To Judah was a masterpiece, and their previous demos and EPs were also A+ material. So, naturally, once Sunbather was announced I nearly crapped myself out of pure elation. Once the time came and I could finally listen to the album I was…


Impressed.

Naturally, when a band releases a debut album of such great quality, it is very hard for them to have that same effect with a second album. But my o' my did Deafheaven pull it off. I was a little frightened upon seeing the cover. Obviously not the type of art you'd expect to see from a black metal band.

Well, now that's just it.

Deafheaven is that kind of black metal band: odd. Admittedly, this release suffers from a slight lack of originality, but the soul and being behind the music shines through, and greatly overpowers this. Listening to the multiple layers of soaring guitar and synth, you can easily feel the effort and emotions put into this release. An overwhelming feeling of bittersweet nostalgia reigns over the listener. The guitars create a thick wall of ambience, trapping the listener in while the scream-esque vocals cut deep into the mix; the drums pound away with complicated and ever changing fills. As compared to Roads To Judah, this release feels more mature, and less spiteful. The mix is fuller as well. The shoegaze and post-rock is blended together seamlessly. A lot of the black metal elements that were once held by the band have been traded in for post-rock ambience and shoegaze noise. Not to mention the more experimental ambient tracks, "Windows" and "Please Remember". The full-formed sound of the other tracks is cooled down for these simple, hazy tracks. They provide an excellent break from the intense wall of sound.

While not being as raw as the debut, Deafheaven manages to create a much more captivating and diverse album: both are beautiful, but each in different ways.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Band profile: Deafheaven
Album: Sunbather


 


written by Boxcar Willy | 23.07.2013



Comments

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Marcel Hubregtse - 23.07.2013 at 19:07  
Would personally rate it a 7.5

Btw there's quite a lot of post-metal in this release as well.
Monolithic - 23.07.2013 at 19:44  
Swell idea to review this album. I like it as well.

Thanks for reviewing!
UnknownCheese - 23.07.2013 at 20:11  
My rap and electronic listening supervisor listens to this junk. Big surprise.
Verdun_sc - 23.07.2013 at 20:29  
...my big qualm with this review? This album, like Roads to Judah, is not a black metal album.

Nor is this band very good, but that's beside the point.
Lokaeda - 23.07.2013 at 20:40  
Written by Verdun_sc on 23.07.2013 at 20:29

This album, like Roads to Judah, is not a black metal album.


You listen to Gris and still say such a thing?

As for the album itself, I didn't find it as good as the previous one. Although the first album could be seen as the quintessence of hipster black metal, I felt like there was a unity, a direction which I fail to find in this record. Maybe it's just me, but only the first track did truly satisfy me.
Marcel Hubregtse - 23.07.2013 at 21:05  
Written by Verdun_sc on 23.07.2013 at 20:29

...my big qualm with this review? This album, like Roads to Judah, is not a black metal album.



there is still quite a bit of black metal in it, musically.
Mattybu - 23.07.2013 at 21:51  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.07.2013 at 21:05

Written by Verdun_sc on 23.07.2013 at 20:29

...my big qualm with this review? This album, like Roads to Judah, is not a black metal album.



there is still quite a bit of black metal in it, musically.


yeah but we all know Euronymous would be shedding a blackened satanic tear if he were around to see that album artwork.



Gotta say boxcar, despite knowing nothing about this band and probably never going to listen to them, pretty well written review. BUT [racial expletive withheld] U AINT BEEN THUGGIN THESE STREETZ U AINT SEEN THA STRUGGLE
InnerSelf - 24.07.2013 at 01:12  
Written by Lokaeda on 23.07.2013 at 20:40

As for the album itself, I didn't find it as good as the previous one. Although the first album could be seen as the quintessence of hipster black metal, I felt like there was a unity, a direction which I fail to find in this record. Maybe it's just me, but only the first track did truly satisfy me.

I kinda feel the exact opposite about the debut, I couldn't get into it at all because I thought that it was too chaotic and all over the place ... I still appreciate it o certain levels but the sophomore, I think, brought a more mature and focused sound.
Apothecary - 24.07.2013 at 02:28  
This album's been getting a lot of hype among my fellow South Florida metalheads, and I was turned off by it for a while because from my personal experience overhyped albums usually turn out to be shit. But it's actually pretty damn good. Much rounder and more atmospheric sound than the debut, I think it's better as a matter of fact.
Verdun_sc - 24.07.2013 at 06:41  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.07.2013 at 21:05

Written by Verdun_sc on 23.07.2013 at 20:29

...my big qualm with this review? This album, like Roads to Judah, is not a black metal album.



there is still quite a bit of black metal in it, musically.

Eh... Sort of. But beyond the blastbeats and screaming I dont hear much of it. Sure they tremolo pick chords and melodies but even when it's all distorted and stuff it sounds like post-rock to my ears. Just with blast beats. And that does not a black metal album make.
Written by Lokaeda on 23.07.2013 at 20:40

Written by Verdun_sc on 23.07.2013 at 20:29

This album, like Roads to Judah, is not a black metal album.


You listen to Gris and still say such a thing?

As for the album itself, I didn't find it as good as the previous one. Although the first album could be seen as the quintessence of hipster black metal, I felt like there was a unity, a direction which I fail to find in this record. Maybe it's just me, but only the first track did truly satisfy me.

And where, in discussing Gris, have I touted their new album as black metal? If I have point it out, I'll stand duly corrected, because neither is that a black metal record. Otherwise, your point is irrelevant.

That's all neither here nor there though. The point was I'm just a bit tired of it getting called black metal, regardless of if one thinks it's good or bad [they dont even claim to be bm themselves, to my knowledge (and nor do Gris, although that's beside the point)].

As to Sunbather content wise, it's just kind of dull. The mellow parts sound like average post-rock, in a boring, heard-before sort of way for the most part. The more metallic parts just dont stand out to me and arent that interesting [despite the fact that the big shimmery chords should interest me]. It's still monotonous/bores me like Roads to Judah did too, despite seeming to have more dynamics. And the songwriting still feels just kind of dull as well, in spite of the increase in dynamics. In sum, it bores me. In a similar way that Wolves in the Throne Room and such bore me [mostly], actually.
Boxcar Willy - 24.07.2013 at 07:00  
Forgot to mention that in Vertigo there's a section that literally screams My Bloody Valentine. Sounds exactly like them.
Dylan - 24.07.2013 at 11:53  
Crazy i just got the album yesterday and this review comes up

I like the album, never had listened to their debut.
Merchant of Doom - 24.07.2013 at 13:19  
It's kind of ok, but the screaming gives a head-ache...
Apothecary - 24.07.2013 at 17:17  
Written by Verdun_sc on 23.07.2013 at 20:29

This album, like Roads to Judah, is not a black metal album. Nor is this band very good, but that's beside the point.

They're definitely being overhyped in my opinion, but not black metal.... lol what would you call Dreamhouse then, or the opening to the title track? Sounds pretty damn black metal to me, if my ears aren't deceiving. Just because it's mixed with some other elements doesn't take away from the black metal at its core.
1Yossarian1 - 24.07.2013 at 20:16  
Love the review; I am glad this album is getting some appreciation on this site!
However, in reference to the comments - the two main arguments people are having are getting seriously old. So even though this is a bit of a contradiction here are my views on these points.

1)" This album is not black metal!"
Obviously this album in not a something you would put alongside original/traditional Black Metal from the 90s - I know even saying this is completely derivative as with the huge overflow of new/atmospheric/post black metal bands (whatever you want to call them) springing up in the last ten years this topic has been flogged to the death. And I am sure it is generally agreed that even though these bands are different from their 90s counterparts, they still possess key characteristics which makes them some form of Black Metal. Based on this, of course Deafheaven are a Black metal band! Obviously not in the Mayhem/Darkthrone/etc way, but in the same way that Wittr/Vestiges/Panopticon/etc are. While even these bands may be closer to Black Metal than Deafheaven are, and Deafheaven does incorporate even more of a post-rock and shoegaze influences into their sound, they are still at Black Metal interpretation of post-rock and shoegaze.
Most importantly they have never stated that this album is a Black Metal album. Only that Black Metal is a major inspiration and passion of theirs (alongside other genres). So stating that they are not Black Metal as a form criticism or feeling offended that they are in some way ruining the integrity of the genre, is just being close minded. Music should always be pushing boundaries, instead of being restricted by genre descriptions.

2) "It has received huge Hype/Acclaim and therefore I shouldn't like it".

Again this is such a close minded view. In the same way that it is ridiculous that so many people blindly listen to music just because it is currently popular and therefore they believe it is good, it is ridiculous to write off a band/album or have a predetermined negative view about a band/album just because they are receiving hype/critical acclaim. Other people's view on the album shouldn't have an effect on whether you enjoy the music or feel it is of good musical quality.
And yes, because there is so much hype surrounding this album people have been mindlessly jumping on the band-wagon and declaring that they love this album just because it is currently cool to have that opinion, And while this behaviour is stupid it doesn't take away from the fact that this has (partly) happened because this is a great album.
My only gripe in terms of this is that it has been given a bit too much praise in its originality. Because obviously there have been a whole bunch of bands doing a similar thing before them. But because for so many people this album is their first introduction with the scene, it seems more original then it really is.

With that said I think it is a phenomenal album. That is just my opinion. And of course that doesn't mean it is necessarily a phenomenal album, and I am perfectly happy with people saying otherwise.

Also, this is not direct reaction to comments in this feed, but rather a reaction to comments made all over the internet in regards to this album, so please don't see this as an "attack" or "retaliation" to comments made above. These are just my thoughts on this topic.
CapA - 24.07.2013 at 20:27  
It's too bad they had to start the album off with the best song on it
tea[m]ster - 24.07.2013 at 22:02  
With each listen it gets better and better. For those that don't know their is a bonus track on the japanese edition!
Qube - 26.07.2013 at 11:08  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.07.2013 at 19:07

Would personally rate it a 7.5

Btw there's quite a lot of post-metal in this release as well.

I would also note there's Screamo in there.

Not in the sense of "dude, that mallcore shit is totally screamo, so not trve".

More like the Envy approach to the genre.
Marcel Hubregtse - 26.07.2013 at 12:04  
Written by Qube on 26.07.2013 at 11:08

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 23.07.2013 at 19:07

Would personally rate it a 7.5

Btw there's quite a lot of post-metal in this release as well.

I would also note there's Screamo in there.

Not in the sense of "dude, that mallcore shit is totally screamo, so not trve".

More like the Envy approach to the genre.



True, there is quite a bit of screamo in it. Like you said the Envy approach to the genre
Rodney - 27.07.2013 at 14:34  
I'd say this review is about spot-on. Nice job.
Kuroboshi - 29.07.2013 at 16:38  
This album takes away all the unfulfilling parts of their debut, and magnifies all the excellent ones. A real beast! Great review!
catherinewrong - 04.08.2014 at 01:06  
Written by Boxcar Willy on 24.07.2013 at 07:00

Forgot to mention that in Vertigo there's a section that literally screams My Bloody Valentine. Sounds exactly like them.


Love this review! Re-listened to this recently and detected some hardcore influences for the first time so I'm glad another user noted screamo elements. I notice more about this album with each listen.
Boxcar Willy - 04.08.2014 at 09:06  
Written by catherinewrong on 04.08.2014 at 01:06

Written by Boxcar Willy on 24.07.2013 at 07:00

Forgot to mention that in Vertigo there's a section that literally screams My Bloody Valentine. Sounds exactly like them.


Love this review! Re-listened to this recently and detected some hardcore influences for the first time so I'm glad another user noted screamo elements. I notice more about this album with each listen.

Thank you

I haven't been keeping up with writing lately because I have been without a computer for a few months now (audio recording software fried it)

The screamo vibes are heavy in the vocals, which I like a ton, but have heard many other people dislike. To each his own I suppose. I haven't stopped listening to this, especially now that I have a vinyl copy.
no one - 04.08.2014 at 09:27  
Who the hell would listen to this watered down black metal hipster shit.

na great album, always a lot of haters for deafheaven, i think some people would hate them even if they liked them

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