Deafheaven
Sunbather


2.5
average

Review

by DarkNoctus CONTRIBUTOR (40 Reviews)
June 2nd, 2013 | 282 replies | 11,980 views


Release Date: 06/11/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: i want to dream too

It's no lie that any effort to bring something new to black metal can be rather polarizing unless it already has ties within the genre. Even the geography of the band can make a big difference as to how well it will be recieved, which is a shame, because there's some genuinely great black metal that comes from the US, all of the negative hype aside. This band definitely fall victim to such negative press for all of the wrong reasons as opposed to, by large, the quality of their music.

Deafheaven are a US black metal band that mix elements of post-rock into their music with perhaps a few tastes of screamo in the vocals and overall chaos, despite the rather positive tone of many of these tracks. Right off the bat you'll have your purists crying foul and where I don't stand with the purists, I'm very far from the camp that praises Roads to Judah, their debut, like the second coming. The cleanly produced yet soaked-in-reverb sound just makes the whole thing frustrating and the songs just don't flow in interesting ways, not to mention none of the tracks have a good riff to their name and solely relied on the textures rather than the content. That's far from a bad concept but when the production is just as confused as the compositions it just makes the whole thing a true try on patience affair. It's a real exercize in frustration from start to finish but it wasn't without potential.

So let's begin by saying that Sunbather is at the very least not a rehash, nor does it fall into the same potholes. Sunbather definitely doesn't sound confused and it sounds like it's much more aware of how it wants to sound rather than relying on tried-and-true aesthetics. The album is far more direct, more finely tuned in its production and construction which makes this album infinitely more enjoyable than the debut. What's more they actually write decent riffs now, though they take a lot from the Envy positive post-rock affair, especially with the screamo influence too but it doesn't sound like a contrived copycat attempt and they put their own spin on it. They keep the very upfront focus of screamo but finetune it to make it far more suited for more song lengths by pushing the vocals into the background and adding variation to the riffs here and there. But there are several reasons why Envy excel at this concept and Deafheaven falter, and much of it is in the blastbeat-happy focus that this album strives for.

Intensity doesn't really sound like intensity when you become adjusted to it and have heard it for too long and it's the total lack of variation in this album that kills its momentum. Just about every track on this album (except the interludes) is constant blastbeats for about 90% of the runtime and it completely forgets what it one of the most important aspects of post-rock - build and release. The reason that the climaxes in Godspeed You! Black Emperor's tracks sound so huge is because the rest of the track builds up to those moments. If you were to hear them standalone they simply wouldn't impress in the same way, which is unfortunately the biggest flaw of Sunbather's pacing.

But a larger problem is that the pacing issues aren't just isolated within the tracks - it's in the whole album too. You have four overlong tracks bookmarked by three interludes, two of them completely useless and tacked on without much thought that don't really segue the tracks at all and if you were to not listen to them you wouldn't be missing out on just about anything. Sunbather is frustrating because it's really onto something but it's almost like the band made a concious decision to fall short of their own concept and ambition. Positivity and intensity works, it just needs balance and a lot of refinement which Sunbather doesn't have a lot of. On the surface it seems refined and with a very balanced sound and production but it's just so fundamentally flawed in its songwriting that it never reaches what it could. Perhaps if the interludes were a lot better they'd have made these tracks not seem so overlong but they just aren't that good.

So what we're left with is a case of 'what could have been'. The way 'Dream House' progresses and balances out the intensity and delicate tones is great, and the way it segues into the next track but the rest of the tracks just seem like blueprints in comparison that just can't nail the balance right, along with the pointless interludes that make the record all the more frustrating. Sunbather is worth hearing but there's no lasting appeal to really be had because they just didn't expand on and refine it. Pity, too.

The album is still chickens, though. :]



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user ratings (1687)
Chart.
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excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2013



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

bring it on, sputnik :]

not one of my best reviews but i still wanted a contrasting review on the site

plus it's been too long so, hi!

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 2nd 2013



10593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

I like when people put a bit of themselves in their reviews....but you need to take yourself out of this. That first paragraph is absolutely unnecessary and does nothing for what it is that you are trying to say.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 2nd 2013



10593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Also it's "segue." Unless the tracks in question are riding a scooter.

Tyrael
June 2nd 2013



20829 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album is obviously overrated (not even bm aoty cmon people get real) but yea

]:

Keyblade
June 2nd 2013



14721 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

inb4 crying

btw a couple of mistakes, "cry foul" instead of cry fowl and segue instead of segway

Digging: Strawberry Switchblade - Strawberry Switchblade

Motiv3
June 2nd 2013



8923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

needed a negative review and I agree with most of the points.

Digging: Punch - They Don?t Have To Believe

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2013



10071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

You bring up some good points here. The Alvin's probably a 3.7 for me, but I do agree about the interludes in particular.

Humorous aside: you said both "crying fowl" and "segway the tracks." These are two of the greatest typos these eyes have ever laid upon.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Tyrael
June 2nd 2013



20829 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'segway the tracks'

leave this pls

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2013



10071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Now I know that if I write a kinda negative Deafheaven review, I will get so many fucking comments immediately.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 2nd 2013



10593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

When I read "cry fowl" I thought of the Bluth's making Chicken sounds

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 2nd 2013



10593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

I think genre tagging can be a tad ridiculous, but if you're going to name drop them at least use them correctly. What about this is screamo or post hardcore?

Tyrael
June 2nd 2013



20829 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'Now I know that if I write a kinda negative Deafheaven review, I will get so many fucking comments immediately.'

you should have seen my negative Jane Doe review

it was a fucking shitfest

Maniac!
June 2nd 2013



26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This definitely has elements of screamo in it. Post-hardcore? Nahh

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2013



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

haha oh no

why not to write reviews when sleep deprived reason 1: crying fowl

i'll fix them later but i kind of don't want to

and i'll rework the first paragraph too, thanks xenophanes

Tyrael
June 2nd 2013



20829 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

genres according to rym:

Blackgaze
Post-Rock, Screamo

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2013



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

gah i really should have proofread this because i actually agree there's nothing post-hardcore about this

aaaaaaaaa okay okay let me take a shower and i'll be all over this

Maniac!
June 2nd 2013



26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

THIS ALBUM IS CHICKENS

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
June 2nd 2013



8780 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

i'm making that the summary and you can't stop me

Xenophanes
Emeritus
June 2nd 2013



10593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

I know I'm gonna come off as a dick, but if you're going to write a controversial review you should expect it:

"Intensity doesn't really sound like intensity when you become adjusted to it and it's the total lack of variation in this album that kills its momentum and makes it seem twice the length it actually is. Just about every track on this album (except the interludes) is constant blastbeats for about 90% of the runtime and it completely forgets what it one of the most important aspects of post-rock - build and release. The reason that the climaxes in Godspeed You! Black Emperor's tracks sound so huge is because the rest of the track builds up to those moments. If you were to hear them standalone they simply wouldn't impress in the same way, which is unfortunately the biggest flaw of Sunbather's pacing."

That first sentence really needs reworked because I don't even know what it's saying. It looks like two separate ideas put into one thought.

Secondly, what you lambast here I praised in my review. So they don't have song structures indicative of post-rock? Big deal. Not every band has to be a Godspeed clone. Deafheaven do something different here, which is why I found this album to be pretty special. Don't put a band in a box just because they make long songs with emphasis on the instrumentals dude.

Maniac!
June 2nd 2013



26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"i'm making that the summary and you can't stop me"

This is the most I've contributed to sputnik in 2 years



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