Deafheaven - Sunbather (Cover Artwork)


Deafheaven: SunbatherSunbather (2013)
Deathwish Inc.

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
(others by this writer | submit your own)

In the early 1990s, a small group of Norwegian bands more or less shaped what black metal would become, providing the soundtrack for wandering around in frost-bitten Scandinavian forests, burning down churches, murdering and eating one another. Two decades later, Deafheaven's Sunbather is the soundt.
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In the early 1990s, a small group of Norwegian bands more or less shaped what black metal would become, providing the soundtrack for wandering around in frost-bitten Scandinavian forests, burning down churches, murdering and eating one another. Two decades later, Deafheaven's Sunbather is the soundtrack to wandering around an American city in a heat wave, letting the sound wash over you. While the influence of bands like Darkthrone and Mayhem are readily apparent, Sunbather's bright pink album art brings to mind My Bloody Valentine, with whom the group also have a healthy infatuation. This is music without boundaries; Deafheaven will go anywhere, try anything, and invariably end up being great at it.

Unlike similarly hyped "black metal" bands that they have little in common with musically or aesthetically, *cough* Liturgy *cough*, Deafheaven are actually firmly rooted in the genre and have a clear reverence for it. "Dream House" makes this clear right from the get-go as within thirty seconds of pressing play, the listener is subjected to blast beats and distorted shrieks that couldn't be any more black metal if they tried. However, over its nine-minute-plus running time, the songs shapeshifts at every opportunity, finishing up closer to Explosions in the Sky territory than the charred Scandinavian landscape where it began.

"Dream House" is immediately followed by the aptly named "Irresistible," at a mere three minutes and thirteen seconds, it is far and away the shortest piece of music in the Deafheaven catalog, and consists of simply somber piano keys and spritely brit-pop guitars, only to be followed up by the Gorgoroth-goes-shoegaze wallop of the ten-minute title track. This gives way to "Please Remember," which starts as a pure noise track with spoken word vocals that eventually collapses into an acoustic interlude, offering a respite from the chaos.

There is no other American black metal band flying at the same level as Deafheaven right now. Weakling opened the door, Xasthur pulled it open a little more and Deafheaven is blowing it off its hinges. Sunbather is sure to join the pantheon of modern classics along with Deathspell Omega's Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice and Lurker Of Challice's self-titled masterpiece. How they managed to craft what is simultaneously a brutal black metal album and a perfect summer album is beyond this reviewer, but they did. Anyone planning on releasing the best metal album of the year can go ahead and wait until 2014, because beating Sunbather won't happen.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
thenewpope (June 17, 2013)

well what do ya know! A competent, well written, concise review for a change!! Thanks other pope.
Haven't heard this one yet but will for sure check it out.
I saw Mayhem last year and it was the most surreal concert experience of my life.

conduit (June 17, 2013)

the username of the reviewer is an awesome simpsons reference, props. Also this album is amazing and Alcest play black metal with shoegaze elements yes but Deafheaven is still pretty far away from Alcest especially Alcest's later albums. Either way, this band has always released awesome material that has consistently improves and Sunbather is no exception.

breakfastsandwiches (June 16, 2013)

All the hype and praise behind this album is astounding. If I wanted to listen to pretty "black metal" I would listen to Alcest, because they are fucking awesome. These guys, not so much.

SilentStorms (June 16, 2013)

OLD SOUL's new album is very Deafheaven, will a little bit of Buried Inside. I never would have been able to listen to this album a couple of year's ago, but Jerome's Dream, Phoenix Bodies and Discordance Axis made me appreciate the style...just not in large doses for an extended period of time.

thepopeofchili-town (June 14, 2013)

"Never thought I'd see Xasthur on PN. That is all."

Get used to it. I'm going to try and start reviewing more extreme stuff.

Ronnoco9 (June 14, 2013)

Never thought I'd see Xasthur on PN. That is all.

sleepwalker (June 14, 2013)

2013 has been a rough music year for me, but Sunbather is awesome.

IanIsSuperRad (June 14, 2013)

This album blew me away. One of my favorites of the year.

preston (June 14, 2013)

Love this album.

renaldo69 (June 14, 2013)

A lot of people say that the vocals don't do it for them but as a fan of metal and screamo, I don't see an issue. I guess the instrumentals and overall musicianship are too much win for me in any case. Even if they dropped the vox, they always do well to me. This record was really powerful.

Nap (June 14, 2013)

I really can't stand these vocals.

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