Deafheaven: Sunbather – album reviewDeafheaven: Sunbather (Deathwish inc)

CD / DL / LP

Out Now


Ok! Ok! I know we are a bit late with this one but we are really snowed under with this endless stream of great music out there and we are trying our best!

For those people who argue that music somehow ground to a halt a few years ago (probably when they grew older themselves) Deafheaven are further proof that boundaries are still being pushed and borders still being stormed

Ostensibly some sort of black metal band or post black metal band or some sort of ambient post shoegaze band or a blackgaze band or whatever- this is the sound of barriers being smashed.

Deafheaven certainly have the mantle of black metal somewhere around their shoulders – there are the guttural vocals- the screamed voice as an instrument, the mashed up wall of guitar that sounds like the worst possible gear in the best possible way but also with lush ambient sections of very clean guitar tones as a contrast. There is also the mysterious darkness and the symphonic perma gloom and the rolling power of the form. They may come from San Francisco, after forming in 2010, and their name may be a homage to shoe gaze outfit Slowdive but they have somehow managed to get a real understating of the Norwegian black metal melancholy when the bands slow down and that fuses these tracks with a misty rained mystery.

What they have also done is somehow stumble into the symphonic post rock world of Godspeed You Black Emperor and Mogwai and melded those symphonic tripped out guitars and filmic atmospheres into the music and mashed two forms into a new whole, not so much shoegaze as Blackgaze.

Of course black metal purists will hate this kind of tinkering with the form, this so called cultural tourism but Deafheaven seem to have a genuine skill at marshalling the dark arts and creating the same sort of atmospherics as, lets say, Gorgoroth when they step back from the assault and go for the misty fjord swirling pagan feel of their brilliant ‘Sign Of An Open Eye’.

If you want to know where rock music is really making its strides forward then it’s at this fault line- the space where the drones of Sunn O))), the fracturing of the black metal apocalypse and the dream weavers of Godspeed exist- music that captures the underlying melancholy of the times in the same way that Joy Division did in my far flung youth.

Deafheaven are the latest adventurers…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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