Review Summary: Looking at ordinary life through rose-tinted glasses.
When you look at what bands do to earn them the brand of being ‘divisive’ there are many attributes. Some remove themselves so far from their roots that they become indistinguishable while others play it so close to home that they are considered stagnant. When developing their sound, numerous bands may incorporate different instruments or play in a different tone which makes their new material sound foreign compared to their past work. In some cases, a band may be considered divisive for reasons outside of the music itself such as how bandmember’s overall character or beliefs influence the music they create. The list goes on. And as the list of divisive attributes grows, so do the bands that are labelled as such.
Within heavy metal uttering the name ‘Deafheaven’ yields opposing reactions. Metal purists who have poured as much scorn as they can conjure on the band in the last 5 years look upon Deafheaven in revulsion, seeing the band’s renowned second album, “Sunbather”
, only as an album that mutated their beloved reclusive black metal into what the opposition would call a boisterous post-metal masterpiece. They wanted the band to stay away from black metal and “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”
, Deafheaven’s fourth album, may finally grant them their wish.
“Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”
is wreathed in a beautiful atmosphere which exudes comfort and contentedness. Every song sounds weightless as if you’re floating in a vast, motionless body of water with the sun embracing you in warmth. As the atmosphere undulates over delicately mixed intensities, sparkling melodies flourish spontaneously which clash and dazzle the tranquil soundscapes with moments of welcome activity during the songs that exceed the 10-minute mark. Shorter songs such as “Near” are emotive standouts where the most complex feature is merely smothering unhurried waves of timbre guitars and pattering drum fills with weary, cleanly sung vocals to create a relaxing aura. Whereas [i]“New Bermuda”[i] felt like a reaction to Deafheaven’s criticism in 2013 by emphasising their beefier riffs and appearing obliquity heavy, this feels like a mature shrug, a tilted smile directed at those who the band have accepted will never accept them.
Previous albums oversee the band penetrating dark and furious soundscapes with stabs of blinding light containing raw, yearning emotion. Conversely, Deafheaven is doing the complete opposite on their latest album. Instead, light and comfort are obscured by abrasiveness. Expectantly, these harsh interludes are chiefly orchestrated by George Clarke’s high-pitched howling whilst the tremolo guitars take on a different kind of power when flanked by thunderous double bass during “Glint”. Only in these brief intermissions do “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”
expose any traces of black metal. Even when the intensity soars in tracks like “Honeycomb” and “Canary Yellow”, Deafheaven maintains a leisurely pace and pleasant aura in the background. Arguably, herein lies why the album never reaches a truly cathartic climax; the as the constant sense of wistfulness and sorrow keeps the intensity anchored beneath the emotional level that “Sunbather”
Influenced by the novel The End of the Affair
written by Graham Greene, which examines obsession, jealousy and discernments within love, “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”
creates a tangibly loving, tender mood throughout the album that is pierced by sharp and impactful blows, creating distance between the romanticised feelings, reminiscent of real life and love which is, assumedly, exactly what the band set out to achieve. Perhaps this album marks the moment where everyone should praise Deafheaven for their ambition, honesty and professionalism of what they do rather than complaining over what they aren’t or what they should be, which they clearly have no intention of being.