Friday, September 4, 2015

Deafheaven - Sunbather (2013)

Genre: Black Metal/Shoegaze/Screamo
Country: United States

 The opening of "The Pecan Tree" leaves me in awe every time I listen to it. The best way it can be described, is a violent euphoria. I can feel it throughout my body; the tingling of my skin, the breathlessness in my chest. I get lost. Lost in the shuddering guitars, the warm smile of the melodies. Lost in a place only Deafheaven can take me. For thirteen minutes, I'm outside of myself, wandering dandelion-filled fields on the most beautiful day spring can offer. That's why I love Deafheaven; that's why I love Sunbather.

It's an album full of these kind of moments. When I listen to the title track, I want nothing more than to lay my head on a tree, and watch as the branches sway back and forth, sunlight piercing through the leafy canvas. For a song that is just as rooted in black metal as it is shoegaze, it is, at times, surprisingly laid back. Sure, there are moments of harshness - halfway through the song its weightless shoegazing melodies fall out of the sky into a pit of cacophonous blastbeat driven black metal - but here, even the cruelty of BM can't stop the album's ecstatic beauty from eventually shining through once more. "Dream House" and "Vertigo" offer more the same; jet-black walls of noise, painted with brushstrokes of shimmering guitars, both dark and beautiful. It's an album that thrives on contrasts.

Deafheaven have crafted a record that shares their inspirations and aspirations all at once. You'll get a pangs of My Blood Valentine and hints of Weakling all within the same breadth; it's a collage of influences that adds up to be a sum greater than its parts. With that in mind, I come back to "The Pecan Tree". That violent euphoria encapsulates the spirit of the band like no other track on Sunbather.  It's lush and gorgeous like shoegaze, grandiose and aggressive like black metal, and sincere like screamo; yet, it is none of these things. It's immediately recognizable and completely unmistakable  -that's why it's the perfect closer. As the album fades into blissful obscurity, it gently whispers three words into your ear; "This is Deafheaven."

Dream On

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