Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Deafheaven - "Roads to Judah" (Deathwish Inc)

Genre: Post Rock/Black Metal
Country: San Fran, USA
Band Website: Tumblr
Label Website: Deathwish Inc

I believe that is positive to push the boundaries and create something that has your signature on it, not only in music but in everything. Deafheaven are obviously trying to do that. Most of the people characterize their music as black metal, however I think that its more complex and I would like to make some comments about that. Ok, I agree that the drumming and the vocals as well as their sound in general will bring to your mind Norwegian forests and landscapes covered in snow. On the other hand though, when I cleared my mind and focused on the actual riffing and melodies I see a bigger connection to post-rock-metal than in black metal. And this is the controversial and the interesting part somehow. Their music teases your mind and throws it from wildness and roughness to tranquility, leaving you enough space to think wonder and get lost. One friend asked me what kind of music do Deafheven play and my answer was “It’s like Red Sparrows played 10 times faster. Include some torn vocals and now you got a hint”!

Their first official release, called Roads to Judah, contains four tracks only but with duration that approaches 40 minutes. The first song starts with an intro-part that lasts about 5 minutes and it is walking entirely on post-rock paths. Atmospheric, sweet melodies with a visible intention to put you in quite a relaxing mode. But when the noise starts, I don’t see many changes on the actual riffing and melodies. As I said before, the difference is in the drumming which becomes faster (in a black metal motive clearly) and in that someone is yelling blackly at a microphone. The first time I heard a pure black metal riff on the album was on the beginning of the second track and from this part on, riffs like that appear occasionally on the album. Clearly Norwegian influenced black metal at the style of Darkthrone and the “epic” and “winter” aesthetics of early Immortal. The fun part starts when the mixing of these two styles becomes more intense. So as the album goes on, we see an intention of combining black metal and post not only by separating one song in several parts, but in including post/alternative riffs while having their “black metal face” and visa versa. If someone pays some attention to the third and the fourth track I think he/she can also figure that out.

Concluding, I have to admit that I was not entirely fascinated by Roads of Judah, but I definitely found a reason to appreciate it, pay some more attention to it and place it in my music collection. Something is missing in order to make this album more exceptional. I believe that the main reason is that on the “black part” they are missing the black metal feeling and they maybe lack of capability to play this style of music. Increasing speed, buzzsawing on the guitar and putting some black metal vocals does not automatically mean that you have a black metal band or that you are playing black metal. I think that they are doing much better when they put their post uniform on and that is maybe why they cannot easily take it off. However, one certain thing about the album is that it gives a 100% travelling feeling. You will find yourself walking in landscapes, getting lost in forests and you will visualize lakes and colorful horizons. And that is definitely an accomplishment and something not so easy for a band to achieve with their music. Plus, it has its own identity!

Deafheaven have a lot of potential and I think I‘ll bet my money on them.

Nikos Tolis

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