Review Summary: Subverting expectations to bring you closer to emotional reality: pain and beauty are one in the same.
It comes across as strange to me when I see discussion of individual Deafheaven tracks as though they weren't just a moment in the sprawling saga of an album. Sure, people cite chapter and verse all the time, but to call out "The Pecan Tree" or "Glint" seems more like calling out a few words in a sentence rather than speaking the context of an entire conversation. Popular music as we know it has trained us to follow the broken down structure of individual tracks within the album, but at the symphony, one applauds only once the piece has fully concluded.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
continues the thread of grand compositions built in movements and likewise continues to contort the band's fusion of melodic rock and black metal into a state serving its emotion. While it's easy to pin an almost voidlike bleakness to the greater and more base elements of black metal, the integration of downtempo rock and blues at the forefront of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
forces that bleakness to become more human and take on an emotional shape: a rollercoaster that peaks with sighing guitar bends and flirty pianos and crashes with the gut-crushing screams, rapid riffs and minor tremolo, and the drumming of an entirely too anxious heartbeat.
Previous efforts embraced black metal bleakness, humanizing its inherent despair into the more realistic affliction of depression with moments of self-accepting melodic clarity, but there's a particular contrast struck between the feeling of earlier works and those expressed on Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
. Where earlier works added color to a lack of feeling, the pits and peaks of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
strike a richer chord by painting in a hue a shade lighter and adding detail to the demons in the dark.
While there's ultimately immense value to both approaches, and both depression and anguish contain their share of lonesomeness, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
sets itself apart from previous Deafheaven releases by connecting the listener to the kind of core-of-your-soul burn that can only come from the pain of failed connection with another human being. Some will tend to prefer one style to the other, and, as precedent usually dictates taste, it's unsurprising that there are those who aren't particularly enthusiastic about an album which places an even greater emphasis on the melodic. Sunbather
was already a boundary-pusher in that regard, and the integration of even more melody and influence that strikes at the core of rock music may not be welcomed by longtime fans.
Yet I have to wonder if that's part of the intended feeling. While Deafheaven obviously intended to subvert expectations by flipping their formula of "black metal plus" on its head with Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
, perhaps that extra step of pushing you, the listener, out of your comfort zone completes the connection those meandering guitar solos and weeping piano tappings are looking for. As with any connection, it'll take both ends' effort and the willingness to take a chance to make it work.