Deafheaven
Roads to Judah


4.5
superb

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
April 25th, 2011 | 974 replies | 58,643 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The formidable Roads to Judah puts to rest any doubts as to whether Deafheaven are worthy of the acclaim that precedes them in a dense display of both passion and control

20 of 23 thought this review was well written

Clouds of excitement have been brewing around Bay Area band Deafheaven since the band’s inception. In discussing the five San Franciscans, subtlety has been placed on the wayside in favor of hyperbole and eager anticipation. And why not? Their first official output, Roads to Judah, is a dizzying and dynamic affair. By juxtaposing different aspects of black metal and hardcore music alongside the brooding, ruminative aura of shoegaze or anything that hinges on atmosphere, listeners are treated to an aural overload that elicits many shades of color besides simply “black.” Deafheaven’s Roads to Judah is a sign of the times, a genre-unifying work that’s sure to floor listeners whether they’re wearing pastel v-necks or sleeveless leather shirts. Fuck subgenres-- in a vehement exhibition of vast soundscapes and keen precision, Roads to Judah supersedes them. Not only is it the most exciting of the year thus far according to hordes of listeners, but its sublime technicality and immersion proves that it’s perfectly deserving of this title, as well.

The dense release doesn’t concentrate on technical tidbits as much as it does executing complete, emotional inundation. The vocals are one of these overarching, connecting factors-- overwhelmingly desperate, awash with sorrow. Additionally, muffled beneath the more metallic influences I was surprised to find hiding a late 90’s screamo record. The surface of rough dynamism and heaviness is impressive, but peel back a few of those layers and Roads to Judah is Gospel-esque, acerbic and grandiose in its scope. This is most striking in the reached, overwrought vocals that play a larger part than perhaps any other facet on the LP. Though, one of the best parts about Deafheaven is that they don’t succumb to drowning in their own atmosphere. Throughout, the different pieces of the music, the influences, are assembled with precision. The concoction never sounds forced, or like there’s too many chunks of certain ingredients floating around. Take, for instance, the opener “Violet.” It takes time for the track to ascertain the right momentum. The piece swells and contracts until enough pressure is built up, and it lets out an exacerbating bellow of intensity that seems not to relent during the 40-minute ordeal; only for Deafheaven to exert their control when necessary, finely tuning back particularities that amount to a well-oiled final product. Given the norms of the genre and preconceived notions, new listeners will most likely be taken aback by the multiplicity put on display by the San Franciscan’s, too. Don’t mistake their first official output as strictly black, as it wades through a wide spectrum of colors (though I can say that they’re all fairly dark).

What’s more impressive than Road to Judah’s overwhelming intensity and finely-tuned catharsis is Deafhaven’s utter control. The band wields a heavy hand on the project, as the songs are incredibly well-structured (probably the most striking aspect on first listen). By downplaying certain moments and allowing time for the band’s more subdued, intellectual side to shine through, it casts an even stronger spotlight on the balls-to-the-wall intense sections. It’s an impossible combination of extremes, a centaur of polar-opposite influences. Yet, because of the exactness that Deafheaven exhibit over their lush, teething LP, it works. This, this control, the intuitive brilliance that Deafheaven display on Roads to Judah is what gives the LP such a defined footprint in the face of this year’s music, so far. It’s been difficult not to notice those clouds of anticipation that accompany Deafheaven as of late, and Roads to Judah vaporizes any doubts that perhaps they’re unjustified. It’s a marvel what that Deafheaven have released such a tour de force already, and whether you’re a fan of metal, shoegaze, or simply superb music, Roads to Judah is certainly worth rejoicing over.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
April 25th 2011



19702 Comments


favorite of the year so far (beating out Beau Navire and Mountain Goats), and the first I'm comfortable giving a 4.5 to

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

SeaAnemone
April 25th 2011



19702 Comments


ps thanks to Observer and Crysis for looking this over for me (obviously I'm a little new at reviewing metal lol)

readers feel free to point out things I say that are really dumb, I'm assuming there's more than a few in here. thought I'd try my hand at this anyway seeing as I've latched onto it so much.


Xenophanes
Emeritus
April 25th 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album's pretty good actually, probably going to revisit it after reading this.

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

Xenophanes
Emeritus
April 25th 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not only is it the most exciting of the year thus far according to hordes of listeners (I’m looking at you when I say this, Radiohead)

I don't really understand this. It's got 59 votes and a 3.9 average rating, and outside of this site I can't say I've found these "hordes" you've mentioned. That, and I'm confused about the Radiohead comment (this isn't a criticism I just don't understand it).

SeaAnemone
April 25th 2011



19702 Comments


I don't know, I was under the impression that there was some hype around it... (I'd say 59 votes pre-release is a lot)... maybe it's because I wrote this a while ago and had it sitting around.

and yeah that radiohead comment is extraneous... removing.

jingledeath
April 25th 2011



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of my favorites from this year, so good.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



16242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pos because I proofread this ;)

Seriously though, props for reviewing this Eric. Album is amazing.

acorncheese
April 25th 2011



7119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

finally a review

cvlts
April 25th 2011



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Reviewed this for another website. AOTY so far. Sooooooo amazing!

Great job, Sea.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. Like the album, but it hasn't blown me away.

fromtheinside
April 25th 2011



17714 Comments


So this is good?

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



7139 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

SEA REVIEWING METAL!?!!

Great review. Pos.

SeaAnemone
April 25th 2011



19702 Comments


thanks guys!

Tyrael
April 25th 2011



20725 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Great review, but I still feel that this album is lacking a, how shall I put this... a sense of direction.

Motiv3
April 25th 2011



8906 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review overall eric, i know you're not used to reviewing metal which makes this even more impressive. Pos. Btw this album is excellent, maybe my fave black metal album so far this year.

Digging: Opeth - Pale Communion

Ire
April 25th 2011



41746 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

not gonna listen if the production is super clean

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2011



16242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There are ways to change that

MunsuLight
April 25th 2011



551 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Excellent review. Album is excellent but I prefer Ash Borer and new Blut Aus nord a little bit over this. Violet is the best track here

Loving the troll rating also -_-.

dreamobile
April 25th 2011



416 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

have it as a 3.5 right now, may go up. I'll see how it grows on me

wabbit
April 25th 2011



6978 Comments


"(I’m looking at you when I say this, Radiohead)"

a.)^ Bad SeaEric. You aren't allowed to not like the albums I love.
b.) review is one of your best.



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