Deafheaven has been getting a lot of buzz here in the music publication world with their material escaping a precise definition or genre description and with the release of their sophomore LP Sunbather. Before diving in to the “indie” world a fateful 6-7 years ago, I listened to death metal. A lot of it. The brutal technicality, rapid snare drumming and guttural vocals were an escape from the disappointing mainstream and it was just something different. What I’m getting at is since I previously listened to and was exposed to a lot of music with gutturals I guess I’m more conditioned than the average listener to approach a band like Deafheaven and be pleased. With George Clarke’s screaming and guttural work, in stark juxtaposition to his cleanly appearance, along with his partner in crime Kerry McCoy, who provides the peerless guitar work (and is also a well-kept gentleman), the pair just seem like such an oxymoron when you think of black metal in general (with those who wear corpse paint, etc.) but they just… work. If the vocals were, say, “normal” Deafheaven’s debut¬†Roads to Judah¬†could be called trailblazing ambitious shoegaze. If the vocals were removed from the equation entirely, this could be considered post-rock and at times, even ambient or drone metal. If they were to cut down their song length to around 2-3 minutes on each, one could call this post-hardcore, emo or screamo. To say this release, and the rest of their work, isn’t astounding would be nothing short of a lie. Even if you can’t get on board with the screaming/gutturals, long song lengths, or the instrumentation you have to concede that they are impossibly dodgy to categorize. The music nerd in me is frustrated and fascinated at the same time with Deafheaven because I can’t categorize them and they evade it, respectively. Sadly, Deathwish has not specified quantities about either kind of vinyl so I will see if I can find that out. Point is, you should really give¬†Roads to Judah a listen and just keep an open mind about it. Give it a listen on Spotify below and see what you think of it. Cheers!
02. Language Games
04. Tunnel Of Trees
Deathwish are proud to announce the release of Deafheaven's debut album "Roads to Judah".
Recorded by Jack Shirley (guitarist of Comadre), "Roads to Judah", is a hypnotic thirty eight minute plunge into hazy musical darkness. A dizzying hybrid of Shoe-gaze shimmer, Hardcore vulnerability, and Black Metal intensity.
From the opening drone of the album it's as if we are are peering through a dream into the private world that is Deafheaven's "Roads to Judah". Layers and layers of instrumentation build, tangle and swirl before the real onslaught begins. A ferocious drum fill then thrusts us from the serene into a free fall, as if the ground below suddenly gave way. From there we plummet through one awe inducing sonic fog into the next, blurring the traditional lines of song. Hyper blasts of speed rage and pulse while lush guitars bellow, roar and whine with unorthodox melody. And just as we feel we've departed from reality from the aural overload, tortured vocals cry out from afar. Serving as a stark reminder that there is something very human about "Roads to Judah" and Deafheaven themselves.
Though the title could suggest something otherworldly, the "Judah" referenced is in fact the "N Judah" train, the busiest line of the San Francisco transit system. A relatable landmark to compliment the haunting ambiguity that surrounds Deafheaven and the music that they collectively create. On it, much of the lyrical writing and personal reflection for this album took place.
With that said, "Roads to Judah" isn't Heavy Metal role play, but a beautifully blackened artistic exploration of the issues and self loathing that can cloud every day life. A stunning a achievement emotionally and musically that will surely shape aggressive music for years to come.
Listen on Spotify
- Maybe Buy
- Not My Style
- Too Expensive