Deafheaven
2010 Demo


3.5
great

Review

by Richard Craig USER (120 Reviews)
November 5th, 2011 | 31 replies | 9,656 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist


3 of 3 thought this review was well written

San Franciscan quintet Deafheaven have caused quite a stir this year. In crafting a sound which borrows from several different subgenres they have seamlessly transcended genre and scene boundaries, attracting praise from unlikely sources. ‘Roads to Judah’ saw ethereal black metal and post-rock meet the more earthly sounds of hardcore and screamo, and it would seem in Deafheaven's capable hands the two approaches coexist amiably. Their combined effect was devastating and Deafheaven’s ability to transfuse genres, thus creating their own niche in the blogosphere of music criticism, was impressive. Before ‘Roads to Judah’, however, came a relatively understated self-titled demo. Considering the diversity found on its successor, it makes sense that the demo ultimately sounds like an early draft.

Admittedly this is not an album, nor an EP, and so structural coherency is all but non-existent here. Furthermore, sonic uniformity is largely absent as the band experiments in several different genres and approaches to songwriting. In terms of one solid listening experience this is unhelpful, but when taking the demo for what it is this criticism is negligible.

The demo is book-ended by the two tracks most resembling those found on ‘Roads to Judah’, but in between these moments of violent beauty lie two wholly unexpected instances of experimentation. The tumbling acoustics of ‘Bedroom’ offer a naked, tender respite from the wall of sound Deafheaven are so adept at creating; the marriage of post-punk, shoegaze and ambient black metal in ‘Daedalus’ is startling. In fact, there are times during the latter where such flitting between genres is uncomfortable but the ambition displayed is admirable. The former is much more one-dimensional but is all the more beautiful for this. Its singular focus and ability to affect a soothing stillness over the listener are reasons why it is a highlight.

However, even on the demo it is already abundantly clear where Deafheaven’s strengths lie and that is in their creation of more aggressive, expansive tracks which blend characteristics from several genres. ‘Libertine Dissolves’ and ‘Exit: Denied’ are both awash with breath-taking tremolos and cranium-shattering blast-beats which, together, create a vast ocean of noise, simultaneously stunning and fearsome to behold. Both tracks display Deafheaven’s masterful structuring, allowing motifs ample time and space to settle before building on them or changing them entirely. This patient conservatism ensures that each and every part of the track is emphasised and is crucial to the whole experience. It is also on these two tracks that Deafheaven mix genres with greater fluidity and avoid the jarring transitions of ‘Daedalus’. Instead, their experimental flirtations with screamo, post-rock and, most prominently, black metal, combine seamlessly to form a sleek, glorious overall sound.

Though occasionally they bite off a little more than they can chew (‘Daedalus’), it is clear from the very start that Deafheaven are an ambitious, slick and powerful band. Tracks such as ‘Libertine Dissolves’, ‘Exit: Denied’ and ‘Daedalus’ largely form a template of what was to come, and though not as impeccable as their successors they are still thoroughly impressive. That’s not to say that Deafheaven’s demo is flawless though. While its patient structuring is impressive (especially for a band effectively in their infancy) the feeling that all four tracks don’t quite reach the soaring heights Deafheaven are aiming for is inescapable. That being said, they still come very close, and ultimately that is good enough.



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user ratings (106)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
sifFlammable
November 5th 2011



2741 Comments


"Though occasionally they bite off a little more than they can chew"

thought this was very fitting in light of the artwork

ohfoxxxycole
November 5th 2011



4353 Comments


didn't think this was the same band judging by the artwork

xenocide.
November 5th 2011



1187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, very insightful, I like this style.

Need to check out the demo, their album was impressive.

Tyrael
November 5th 2011



20798 Comments


Roads to Judah was kinda boring so I'm hesitant to check this out.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2011



16299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Roads to Judah is better but this was still great. Certainly a worthwhile listen.

Digging: Ulver - Bergtatt

Hawks
November 5th 2011



35349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I should probably listen to this.

Digging: Brutal Truth - Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses

Eskate87
November 5th 2011



959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

seeing these guys in two weeks with Russian Circles. So effin pumped.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2011



10041 Comments


"thus creating their own niche in the blogosphere of music criticism was impressive"
I'd put a comma after criticism

"genres and approaches to song writing"
Songwriting is one word.

"In terms of one solid listening experience this is unhelpful; but when taking the demo for what it is this criticism is negligible."

"The tumbling acoustics of ‘Bedroom’ offer a naked, tender respite from the wall of sound Deafheaven are so adept at creating; while the marriage of post-punk, shoegaze and ambient black metal in ‘Daedalus’ is startling. "
With both of these sentences, commas would be more appropriate instead of the semi-colon.

"Its singular focus and ability to affect a soothing stillness over the listener are reason why it is a highlight."
To affect a soothing stillness? I would use a different word than affect. And *reason(s).

"even on the demo it is already abundantly clear where Deafheaven’s strengths lie. Said strengths lie in their creation of more aggressive, expansive tracks which blend characteristics from several genres."
You could probably combine these two sentences, and make it flow even better.

This review is great; I just found a few things that could make it even better. Not trying to be an annoying nit-picker :] just trying to help a brother out! Pos.










Relinquished
November 5th 2011



24862 Comments


didn't think much of this

Apollo
November 5th 2011



10287 Comments


will check this out

sniper
November 5th 2011



19042 Comments


disregarding the interlude track this shit rules as hard as roads. this was on my 2010 list.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2011



16134 Comments


Man, that album art...

foxblood
November 5th 2011



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah it's pretty unattractive, that image is all squashed though the normal one isn't as bad

zaruyache
November 5th 2011



6141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

No u suk RIFF CLOCK.

Demo rules, review rules. Pos'd.

Digging: Emerald Weapon - Part II: Earth Encrypted

craigy2
November 5th 2011



551 Comments


Thanks, guys, especially OmahaStyleeee. I've changed some of the punctuation and grammar issues - some of them were embarrassing! My computer auto corrected it to 'song writing' which was annoying. Semi-colon can still be used now that I've taken out the 'while' - they could be two full sentences so it is acceptable. That being said it wasn't earlier. Thanks.

I'm not massively into black metal so I'm a little wary that I may be out of my depth here.

Anyone seen these guys live? Did you get soaked by the vocalist as well?

Tyrael
November 5th 2011



20798 Comments


Ugh this was worse than Roads To Judah...

Good review though

Ire
November 5th 2011



41753 Comments


roads to judah is nice

sniper
November 5th 2011



19042 Comments


so is this. art is supposed to be cassette shaped.

foxblood
November 21st 2011



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is good besides Bedrooms, that track is completely useless

Hawks
December 7th 2011



35349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really good demo.



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