Deafheaven – ‘New Bermuda’ Review
Posted: by Sean Gonzalez
I’m going to be completely honest. It took me a long time to even rightfully listen to Deafheaven‘s breakout album Sunbather. I jumped on the train almost a year late and by that time, everyone knew about just how solid (or people with their opposite opinions) an album it was. To me, ‘The Pecan Tree’ holds an emotional aspect that was brought to life by a rainy night and came to fruition by a friend’s fears about the next steps in life. The songs lyrics and the discussion we had have absolutely nothing in common, but it was just the emotional eye opener I needed to let the music drift with me to a completely new place.
Enter New Bermuda. As seen by even the band’s artwork choice, the third offering from Deafheaven finds a darker path to stroll than their previous colorful LP. Gone are the reflective and gazing instrumentals as stand alone tracks, instead focusing on epic behemoths that have their own peaks, akin to ‘The Pecan Tree’ or ‘Dream House.’ It’s even more present in the way the album starts off. The guitars are presented in a chug of dark chords being aided by an evil blare of vocals. ‘Brought To The Water’ is permissive within the realm of the black metal style, fluctuating between post-rock instrumentals and breakneck drumming to really hit home whatever it is that Deafheaven want to provide us with. By the way, the final riff presented in the song is stellar and uplifting in a way.
In reality, the extremely tight approach of all five members really adds to how effective they can make a track hit a pair of ears. It’s crushing how apprehensive the guitars can make one feel with their constant switch between trauma inducing minor keys and their ability to bring out vibrant major tones within the same song structure. It’s how the two minute mark of ‘Luma’ is furiously charged by blast beats and frantic strummed guitars, but instead of dark chords, everything sounds bright. It’s this contrary perfection that makes each track it’s own journey to take. An instrumental takes our bodies up and away, soaring with radiant guitar melodies weaving between one another without causing a halt in progress. Immediately after we are brought hard back to the earth with one of the most vicious assaults the band has offered. It’s a crushing end that takes a listener out of a dream like haze and back to the real world without even having to raise the heart rate.
Smack center in New Bermuda is a wahhed out guitar solo that I personally found completely unexpected. Other than that, ‘Baby Blue’ felt too familiar, adding a definitive stamp on an eerie track swallowing light with lyrics such as, “God had sent my calamity into a deep space from which not even in dreams, could I ever imagine my escape.” Gifted is George Clark in keeping his lyrics short, not having to express much more than his twisted expressions as they are. Add on top of these biting lyrics a torture chamber of screams, whales and cries and it masterfully showcases the intense emotions of each word. ‘Come Back’ is a song that Deafheaven has shown us how to write before. Their talent has never been more approachable here, grinding through eerie arpeggios and a grueling vocal delivery. The slides present in the end are soothing, letting the light in just for a few moments before beginning the last call for the closing curtains.
‘Gifts For The Earth’ is where we find Clarke meditating with Death herself, comforting his anxiety by his own demise being the only thing left he can give to the earth. The distorted guitars enter with their powerful chord progressions, bending the willpower of metal and showing just how many influences can be infused together for one movement. The closing section of the track paints an image of a casket being lowered into the earth, finally at peace, finally with a ray of peace.
If anything, New Bermuda shows the prowess of five guys and their ability to make music a sonic journey. Deafheaven transcend their music; being delivered alongside fascinating adventurous patterns, like a constellation embedded in the endless sky. That’s where I sit right now with this album, endlessly keeping the repeat on as all five tunes drown out the world.