[sic] Magazine

Deafheaven – Sunbather

Sunbather is going to knock the china ducks from over the top of your grate, strip it of the Anaglypta roll and leave big bunkers in your concrete walls. Deafheaven have created a post-metal behemoth here that is so large it may auger gravitational collapse and a musical black hole. This second album from the San Francisco band of noise merchants comes with songs that roll in at well over 10 minutes and which assault your musical sense in a way which was last achieved by Josh T Pearson ‘s soaring aural assault in Lift to Experience ‘s Texas Jerusalem Crossroads (one of the greatest albums of all time – Editor) or the works of fellow Lone Star state residents Explosions in the Sky . On these songs George Clarke ‘s rasp screams over the pile-driver arrangements, which sound like shattering blasts of pure cacophony. Yet, uplifting melody and triumph lurks here not least in the wonderful heights scaled on the opener ‘Dream House’, whose crescendo builds to a sense of scale and power in its nine-minute plus, which is completely overwhelming.

Thus, to describe or to compare this to black metal anymore (particularly the unholy Scandinavian variety), is to miss the point; this is post-rock like Slint , but done at warp speed. The closer, ‘Pecan Tree’, leaves you gasping for breath. In its 11 minute duration it’s like experiencing a sonic apocalypse that literally pulverises your senses and stops your daily deliberations. Much heavier is the epic ‘Vertigo’ – this time at 14 minutes – resembling a mini math rock opera with influences and traces of Black Sabbath , Husker Du and previous greats, and with Clarke’s fellow band members Kerry McCoy , Derek Prine and Daniel Tracy whipping up such a fierce musical tornado that you should head to the ground shelter.

When it comes to the shortest track on the album, ‘Irresistible’, it’s like a single in comparison to its lengthy counterparts and provides shelter from the storm from what follows, but at the same time it shows how the band are confident in their own skins and that amongst all this full-on assault they can interject a lovely guitar lament. The eerie neo-religious chant of ‘Windows’ does feel more like an interlude, which some may find a distraction. Amends are made however with the pulverising title track, which has pitch-warped guitars almost being overcome by fuzz and static.

Sunbather is a bold and thrilling album from a band whose music has gone into another league on this release. People of a certain age may question the sanity of those who love this undiluted wall of noise produced by Deafheaven, but you the listener will smile politely safe in the knowledge that something very special is going on here and if others can’t recognise that then aren’t they the poorer for it?

Find out more