Deafheaven, black metal’s most commanding voice since 2013, will be making an appearance this Friday at Salt Lake City’s Urban Lounge. Known for their melodic shoegaze and post-rock approach to black metal, the band also sets themselves apart with their unusually emotional subject matter and lyricism.
To understand the early plight of the group is to understand them as they are now, a touring and commercial force unequaled in their genre at the moment. 2012 proved to be a financially crippling year for Deafheaven after the release of their first LP and subsequent touring left the group with immense debt. What would come from months of food-stamps and deplorable living conditions would be “Sunbather,” an album revered enough by critics to earn Rolling Stone’s “Best Metal Album of 2013” award. The group quickly began selling out venues in North America while also finding slots in high-profile festivals across Europe, Australia and even Asia.
However, lead singer George Clark soon came to the realization that the group’s aspirations of stability, wealth and acclaim were not all they were cracked up to be. Themes of disillusionment and disappointment would be the basis for their third full-length effort, “New Bermuda.” Whereas “Sunbather” pinned for an escape from poverty with beautiful post-rock interludes and triumphant chord progressions, “New Bermuda” doubled down on relentless, layered riffs and images of darkness and drowning.
When speaking on the band’s latest release, Clark explained that hitting it big was accompanied by a bittersweet disappointment. “‘Sunbather’ yearned for something better,” he said. “‘New Bermuda’ focuses on the idea of false promise, achieving something and wondering if it’s what you really wanted in the first place. Moving to L.A., living with the person you love, meeting new people—you’re inexplicably let down by the situation, or let down by your own perception of it because you thought it was everything you wanted, but yet you still feel displaced.”
Like their previous album, “New Bermuda” proved to be a critical powerhouse. The album went on to receive particularly rave reviews from Pitchfork which accorded the album a 9 out of 10 and an A- from A.V. Club, which contributor David Anthony praised for its ability to once again innovate. “Ultimately, ‘New Bermuda’ proves just how progressive of a genre metal can be, purists be damned,” he said.
For any of those looking to expand their metal sensibilities, Deafheaven is easily your best bet. The influences they draw from are numerous and span across musical genres. Any fans of groups like My Bloody Valentine, Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor will immediately fall in love with the group’s attention to melody, chord progression, song structure and emotional story-telling. This sound could be no better suited for live performance as well. Moments of serene beauty interspersed by abrasive, layered guitars and raw vocals are well worth seeing live. Very rarely is it so easy to watch a band at their very best in such an intimate form. Other than perhaps Wolves In The Throne Room, this is the defining North American black metal band.
Singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle and instrumental rock outfit This Will Destroy You will be opening. Doors open at 8:00 PM and tickets will be on sale for $20.00. Also note that this is a 21+ event.
Photo by Kristen Cofer courtesy of ANTI-Records.