sunbatherDeafheaven’s Sunbather is one of those anomalies that happens every so often in metal music where you’re moved to your core listening to the aural violence. Singer George Clark sounds like Deftones’ Chino Moreno having some sort of attack as songwriter/guitarist Kerry McCoy creates transcendent -albeit bludgeoning- music that sweeps you up in the drama of life and existence. Sunbather sounds like what would happen if Explosions In The Sky dabbled in black metal. It’s a record that comes around every so often, and when it does all you can do is let it wash over you.

“Dream House” is a wall of guitars. And ebb and flow of dramatic sweeps and moods. This is what happens when post rock goes through primal scream therapy. I imagine Mogwai was brought up once or twice in the studio while recording this epic opening track. A barrage of guitars bash against each other as if waves pummeling the lone schooner in a black ocean. Clark screams orders till the storm calms as the piano and echoed guitar of “Irresistible” steps in during a moment of solace, quietly taking us into the ten minute title track. Deftones haunt the sound of this song, not only in the shredded vocal cords but McCoy’s exquisite guitar. His guitar is  a sound filled with both guttural pain and heavenly scope. You feel as you listen to Deafheaven that you’re listening to a great epic tale -much like Homer’s Odyssey- put to music. This is a journey record(and not that “Don’t Stop Believin’ junk). “Please Remember” starts as noise and increases in intensity climaxing to a buzzsaw screech before dissipating into a quietly strummed guitar. Ebb and flow.

This album isn’t for the weak of heart or ear. It’s a trip filled with good and bad. It’s a journey filled with as much pain as pleasure. What makes this record a journey worth taking over and over again is songwriter/guitarist Kerry McCoy. He takes metal and hardcore music and gives it something that too often is missing in both:  depth. At times there’s a downright shimmering quality to his playing that sounds like Johnny Marr filling in for Porl Thompson on Disintegration. “Vertigo” has a shoegaze swirl about it before going into an almost Euro-metal guitar lead that opens the gates for George Clark’s banshee howl. “Window” is a swirl of dread. A voice speaks in the background as piano plays and ambient noise comes in and out of focus before “The Pecan Tree” closes the dizzying journey called Sunbather.

Bands like Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, and even My Bloody Valentine are woven into Deafheaven’s DNA. I’m sure there’s some black metal and hardcore bands that were a basis for these guys wanting to make music as well, but I haven’t the ear or listening experience to throw those names around. All I can say is Sunbather is Deafheaven taking all of those influences and creating something unique and moving all their own. It’s not an easy journey, but one you should take. One you must take.

8.7 out of 10

About the Author jhubner73

This is where I drop the spat and spittle, the sentimental fat and drivel... Music and such, and maybe a word or two about a word or two. Midwest point-of-view, without all that religion and gun stuff. Intellectually unintellectual. Elitist for the pizza and beer crowd. Grab a bean bag and lounge in the basment for a while, won't you?

8 comments

  1. 735 seconds of… what you said. For a 9 minute song to hold my attention (three times) some of everything had to be in there. Love the guitar in this and the drums are a spooked rabbit that finally calms down. This song could stand without any vocals.

    The heat index is 106 today and I needed a half hour of this to find the energy to go outside…

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    1. I totally agree regarding the vocals. Without them this would be one of my favorites so far this year. Despite them, it’s still quite a captivating listen. And I really like that drum analogy.

      106 degrees?? Great Odin’s Raven!!

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      1. I think you two are tactfully saying the vocals aren’t quite your favorite part. I’ve gotta admit I prefer the more barking style vocals of Converge and Fucked Up, but when I forget the screams are vocals, it works.

        In any event, this was already on my must-purchase list and has been moved to the must-purchase-soon list. Great pick!

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      2. The barking style of vocals isn’t one of my favorite things, but if the music keeps me interested the vocals can eventually grow on me. As far as Sunbather is concerned, it’s already started growing. Fucked Up is a good example of where I can overlook the vocals in lieu of really liking the music. Someone said that they look at the vocals as just another instrument in this band. Looking at it that way I can appreciate them a bit more.

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  2. If you like this (which I do – thanks, I’d not even heard the name before) and you haven’t given them a go yet, try ISIS. Their LPs ‘Panopticon’ and especially ‘Oceanic’ are just amazing and rather emotional too. They do take a little attuning to though. If you’ve already dabbled then I apologise for patronising you !!

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