Deafheaven grasps perfection

“New Bermuda” may be the album of the decade.

Christian Davis, Writer

I used to have this terrible job where I washed and waxed cars every day. It was a summer job in the Inland Empire, where you see anything less than triple digit temperatures as a blessing. Deafheaven’s “Sunbather” came out around then, and I remember not being able to listen to it at work. I spent all day with headphones, dripping sweat, hating the monotony of cleaning cars over and over again, but I still never listened to “Sunbather” until I got in the car and took the long way home. My commute was all hills and orange groves, rather than the freeway cutting through both. I did this with the intention of attaching positive physical memories to that behemoth of a record, but those attachments did not last long.


When I think of that record now, I think of the anxiety I had after getting robbed at gunpoint at a restaurant. I think about how torn up I was after a breakup. I think about sleeping in the bed of a pickup truck in a hospital parking lot while my grandmother recovered from four brain aneurysms. I think of how much I needed a band like Deafheaven.

Nearly everyone I know could care less about how true to black metal Deafheaven is. The debate as to whether a black metal record is allowed to have a pink album cover detracts from how earth-shattering this band is on the regular. Regardless, those still new to extreme music will discover Deafheaven is not only the perfect place to start — it is the only place to start.

Emotionally Gorgeous

This band miraculously finds the balance between adopting an unmistakable sound, and reducing themselves to formulas on their latest record, “New Bermuda.” Opening track “Brought to the Water” uses a speed metal riff toward the beginning that makes you doubt it could be followed by some of the most emotionally devastating music of the decade. The screamed vocals might be a turn-off for some, but I would encourage everyone to at least get through the first track. This music is emotionally gorgeous enough to make you stop in your tracks — if you let it.

Not even a minute into second track “Luna,” and anthemic guitar lines cut through the blast beats. Luna briefly turns into a lullaby before smashing down the walls around you, using some of the heaviest and most emotionally crushing chords ever. All this is framed around George Clarke’s indiscernible screams, which close the song with the line “Sitting quietly in a scorching reimagined suburbia.”

Careful Ending

The band’s musical philosophy centers around an interesting relationship with resolve. These songs tend to pull you this way and that, but all end up resolving with some of the most carefully constructed endings I have ever heard. There is a moment towards the end of “Baby Blue” where a voice recording advises motorists of alternate routes in light of a bridge closing — the first time we hear a voice spoken, not screamed. It is a moment of sterility, of structured interjection into a record otherwise fraught with the rawest of pathos.

“New Bermuda” is a daunting record to talk about, especially considering how I struggle to describe this band to people unfamiliar with heavy music. I tell people, “It’s like you took Sigur Rós or Explosions in the Sky and made them black metal.”

Designed to Live

Some tend to scoff, metal purists scorn and my parents still hate it. Either way, Deafheaven is a band I needed, and a band I am beyond thankful to have now. Bands will continue to make records with similar effects, but no one will ever create something like “New Bermuda.” Deafheaven deals in music designed to live forever.

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