Deafheaven – Sunbather (Deathwish Inc.)

Thursday, 6th June 2013
Rating: 10/10

Sometimes a work of any kind simply overwhelms you. It washes over you, courses through you, leaves you completely and utterly exhausted with amazement and terrified wonder when it has come to completion. With Sunbather, Deafheaven have managed to create such a work, absolutely stunning from beginning to end.

Post-black seems to be the tag that the band gets hit with most nowadays and in truth, that’s not too off the mark. While the raspy and tortured vocals and unrelenting blastbeats are very much a driving force for most of the long-form tracks, the guitars are monumental and cascading walls of shoe-gazey warmth. Opener “Dream House” embodies the pairing from the word go, casting off with abandon from the initial seconds and looking back only for intense dives into the melodic and poignant. The ending minutes of the song are spectacularly crushing – not thanks to sonic abuse, but through unrelenting melodious expression, the post-rock tendencies coming to the fore in glorious fashion.

“Please Remember” is a glitchy and paralyzing experience that embodies the feeling of the album title – being awash in the light of the sun, a loving and lazy haze through which the mind is apt to find themselves lost. “Windows,” meanwhile, is as black and suffocating an experience as can imagined, samples of drug pushers and street-preachers alike vying for attention, each beholden to similarly empty and hopeless ends, tragic symbols for one and all.

“Vertigo” is a study in movements, quite sections of vibrant guitar giving way to seething bouts of fury, its peak moments like that of one’s final bits of reflection before flying into the heart of an exploding star. Closer “The Pecan Tree” hammers the aforementioned feeling home, a brutal pace seeing that exploding star obliterate the listener of whatever remains.

It’s honestly difficult to put Sunbather into words that do not ring hollow and/or inadequate. It’s a luscious and terrifyingly personal journey through a band that is coming into its own and taking sounds from a myriad of unrelated places and focusing them in outlandishly beautiful ways. It’s an experience unlike any other and should not be missed, for by this point the argument over whether or not the band is black metal is kind of moot. Sunbather is art distilled to its purest and most cathartic form.

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