Having previously reviewed Deafheaven‘s “Roads To Judah“, I was excited to hear the band got a new album out. Appropriately titled “Sunbather“, on this release we once again witness the band illuminating black metal with their post-metal endless subtly intertwined melodies, sending the listener into a state of both withdrawal and elated tranquility as if mimicking the dream-like nature of the astral projection phenomenon.
The album opens up strongly with “Dream House” which feels like one idea stretching and changing its aural textures and rhythmic pacing for 9 whole minutes in a very cohesive manner. Though the vocals are your typical BM shriek, the lyrics are very intriguing with their abstract\intimate combination.
The high gain withers away and we remain with a peaceful reflection on the intro “Irresistible“, the guitar notes turning slowly into a mellow piano; And here we arrive at the title track, appearing as a natural continuation of “Dream House“, but this time around the epic element is boosted up a notch, as well as the lyrical quality. You just gotta marvel at this type of very-specific yet open to interpretation wording that give you a feeling of a story but doesn’t give away its personal meaning for the writer:
“held my breath and drove through a maze of wealthy homes. I watched how green the trees were. I watched the steep walkways and the white fences. I gripped the wheel. I sweated against the leather. I watched the dogs twist through the wealthy garden. I watched you lay on a towel in grass that exceeded the height of your legs. I gazed into reflective eyes. I cried against an ocean of light.”
The track ends in a divine explosion of energy at the 8:30 mark, “Please Remember” then making an entrance of disorienting vague atmosphere. The song shows Deafheaven pull off some masterful transitions between total noise and perfect calm, seeking a break from the relentless blastbeats.
“Vertigo” continues in the same relatively toned-down fashion before beating you senseless, demonstrating the band’s wish to be, yes, droney – but not repetitive to a bore. That might sound paradoxical since we are talking about music of repeating motifs, but Deafheaven give each of their songs a personal version of their melodic concept, and so the similarity in the tracklist actually works for them.
Each time a song changes on “Sunbather“, and with each turn the textured sound takes, we discover a new layer of complex feelings, the emotional content unfreezing from its ice-cold shell, only to then take a new solid shape; And again and again, and on and on. It is a very inspiring listening experience that’s very post-metal but doesn’t abandon the traditional elements behind, not at all! instead, the band embrace those, giving them new life; And they do so brilliantly.
In the violent and in the quiet, Deafheaven feel comfortable wherever they take their music to, and the result is a breathtaking work of art that both oldschool metalheads and post-metal fans should and will fall in love with. 10/10