Deafheaven / Envy - live in Boston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Deafheaven / Envy

live in Boston (2015)

live show

It was almost like a secret handshake among astute reviewers that divisive black metal outfit Deafheaven seemed to take a fair share of influence from Envy with their screamo and post-rock inclinations. That is, until the suspicion was more or less confirmed by Deafheaven taking out the Japanese act on the former's current headlining tour in support of New Bermuda--a massively enjoyable pairing at that.

Tribulation came on first with a strong half-hour-plus of their material that skirts the line between death and black metal, but also adds a very melodic and dare-one-says accessible slant to it all. Their guitarists (at least one was in corpse paint) have a flamboyancy that contributes to an overall show that's pretty entertaining, adding another veteran presence to a lineup where Deafheaven is actually the newest band of the three.

Envy came on next, and seemed to blow away the crowd with an occasionally deafening set that included a few from their great new album, Atheist's Cornea, including major key opener "Footsteps in the Distance". They oscillated from their signature controlled chaos to heavy post-rock atmosphere without missing a beat, while frontman Tetsuya Fukagawa often sang, muttered and unleashed his scratchy yell with eyes clenched and hands and arms raised to the ceiling. It was 50 minutes of bliss and beauty, and they definitely seemed to have some fans in attendance--hell, some push-pitted for half the set. The setlist seemed to be comprised half from their new album and half older songs--it was probably a lot like this, though they made have played one more song, even. I definitely recognized at least one song with an Insomniac Doze vibe. The band played tightly in sync and energetically, with one of their guitarists pressing his instrument against the monitor for some set-ending, piercing feedback.

It was a tough act to follow, but Deafheaven managed to deliver with a set that somehow felt more fun than any time I've seen them. Maybe it's the increased stylistic versatility of their new album, or the personal space afforded by a big venue that was not quite at capacity (probably about 6-700 in an 1100-capper, but that's a rough estimate). Either way, frontman George Clarke does a fine job hyping up the crowd and getting them into it, motioning people forward with his stone-cold demeanor--multiple folks responded, taking advantage of the barricade-less space with stage dives and crowd-surfing.

I really appreciate how stripped-back the band's live presence has remained as their profile and popularity have both grown--their bassist can come out rocking an Oakland Raiders tee, and it can feel totally natural. (Maybe not to certain people--I'm definitely not one for the theater that occasionally comes with the broader metal world, at least.) They played the entirety of New Bermuda in order (though I feel like "Baby Blue" and "Come Back" may or may not have been swapped), broken up in the middle by last year's "From the Kettle Onto the Coil" single. It was a delightful performance, full of all the little dynamics that make their songs so thrilling, capped off by an encore that lifted two standouts from 2013 breakout Sunbather.

Set list (10:37-11:33):

  • Brought to the Water


  • Luna


  • Baby Blue [?]


  • From the Kettle Onto the Coil

  • Come Back [?]


  • Gifts for the Earth

    Encore (11:34-11:55):

  • Sunbather


  • Dreamhouse