Deafheaven have been one the most interesting metal bands of this decade. Their sound sees them marrying the ominous brutality of black metal with the heavenly textures you tend to get in shoegaze and post-rock. This was first displayed on 2011's 'Roads To Judah', but it was really 2013's 'Sunbather' that has seen them at the peak of their powers thus far, this record putting beauty to the forefront making for irresistible listening, whilst Deafheaven's aggression was underlying, but was no less effective. Their latest release, 2015's 'New Bermuda', was another excellent release, continuing their journey with their one-of-a-kind sound and that journey brings them to Leeds' Stylus tonight.
First up though, we have post-metal outfit Hundred Year Old Year Man who deliver patient, slow-burning soundscapes before bursting into sledgehammer-like riffs. They're a local band, but they don't feel like it, the way their sound manages to lay itself out across this big room and how well they suit the big stage.
Deafheaven hit the stage and instantly have you in their tight grip. Opening with 'Brought To The Water' this song's spaced-out chugs and punishing pounding gets a buzz going amongst the crowd, however what's really enticing is frontman George Clarke's command over the audience. It's surprising how majestic he is, given Deafheaven's gritty-meets-heavenly sound, but he spends the whole set doing composer actions, crawling around like Gollum, raising his mic stand and going onto the barrier, all whilst shrieking like a banshee, regardless of if he's being reinforced by blastbeats or glacial chords.
Continue reading: Deafheaven - The Stylus, Leeds 22.04.2017 Live Review
Max Cussons picks ten of his favourite albums released 2015
10. The Wonder Years - No Closer To Heaven.
Largely abandoning their winning formula displayed on previous records of positive, bright pop-punk, this time around The Wonder Years are far more morose. It could've ended up being alienating and awkward for their fans but instead is a record that is emotionally invigorating, touching on themes of death and loss in such a raw manner. Overall a daring move which pays off.
9. Super Luxury - Ten Solid Years Of Applause.
One of the funniest live bands now have an album of noise rock bangers to go with their bonkers shows. Be it the slow and heavy songs or those loose and speedy, this is a fun exercise in raw, loud guitar music and a senseless racket to just lose yourself in.
Continue reading: Max Cussons' Top 10 Albums Of 2015
Having started in 2010, San Francisco black metal outfit Deafheaven have been one of the more unique bands in heavy music by injecting the grand and ethereal elements of post-rock and shoegaze with hellish vocals, tremolo picked guitars and bombarding rhythms that are excepted from the black metal genre. Whilst 2011 debut 'Roads to Judah' was impressive, it was really 2013's 'Sunbather' that showed Deafheaven to be one of the best bands in the game. Whilst other bands have fused metal and post-rock, it's hard to think of a band that have done it in such a bright and uplifting way whilst retaining punishing instrumentation as Deafheaven. They've returned with 'New Bermuda' which sees them go further down their inventive path.
'Brought To The Water' gets the album off to a thrilling start with commanding blastbeat drums accompanied by ominous, roomy and well-paced guitars, before proceeding to chug along behind vocalist George Clarke's piercingly sharp screams. The song soon hits a melodic break with some harmonious guitar noodling, becoming even prettier as the tempo slows down and the guitars become more glacial. This is why your average Deafheaven song is at least several minutes long; they need the time to take you on many sonic, as well as emotional, journeys.
'Luna' has an evilness to it, speedy low strings with a few palm muted, and of course the omnipresent rapid-fire drums increasing the suspense. With Deafheaven's metal elements being more at the forefront so far, the band are arguably trying to show their aggressive side with 'New Bermuda'. As praised as 'Sunbather' was for being a breath of fresh air in heavy music, there was many a metal purist who slated the album's fluorescent nature. Deafheaven are proving that they can be as menacing as the best of them, yet at the same time they don't compromise their sound, ending 'Luna' with a euphoric cascade of huge chords ascending the listener into heaven to be greeted by a demonic howling from Saint Peter.
Continue reading: Deafheaven - New Bermuda Album Review