Deafheaven’s Sunbather was a masterpiece — it was Stereogum’s second-favorite record of 2013 and my own #1 by a significant margin. I wrote about it a lot, and could have written more. I love that record! The band’s upcoming Sunbather follow-up, New Bermuda, is easily my most anticipated album of 2015 — I almost get a little uneasy thinking about it, honestly. I’ve built it up too much in my mind! They can’t possibly deliver anything approaching my totally unrealistic expectations!
Deafheaven didn’t help to temper my expectations with New Bermuda’s first single, “Brought To The Water,” which is A FUCKING BANGER; it is way, way better than it has any right to be. A few weeks ago, Deafheaven announced a tour with Swedish prog-death metal band Tribulation (whose The Children Of The Night is my favorite album of 2015 so far) and Japanese screamo legends Envy (whose new LP, Atheist’s Cornea, is outstanding, too). Weird but true fact: I’ve written Album Of The Week three — three! — times in 2015, and two — two! — of those records are by bands who were eventually added to this bill. AND THE OTHER BAND ON THE BILL IS DEAFHEAVEN. So when that news was released, I felt like Deafheaven was probably just fucking with me, and I said as much:
I feel like this tour is either directly servicing or trolling me personally. https://t.co/H0tLDjIssC
— Michael Nelson (@nelsonicboom) August 5, 2015
Now, though, I’m CONVINCED they are fucking with me. Today Rolling Stone did an interview with Deafheaven in which the band’s principle songwriter, guitarist Kerry McCoy, discussed the new record. Read this:
McCoy, who writes Deafheaven’s music, cites Morbid Angel and Kill ‘Em All–era Metallica as some of the main musical influences behind New Bermuda … “I was definitely trying to distance myself from the whole shoegaze thing and go more towards alternative rock,” he says, “which is why there’s the Oasis homage at the end of ‘Gifts for the Earth,’ and some of the songs have more of a slow-core vibe — like, my take on Low or Red House Painters. There’s even like a Wilco slide guitar-y thing on ‘Come Back.’ Not so much reverb and spacey-ness, which in my opinion is being beaten to death currently, but more of an emphasis on hooks, riffs and real melodies.”
I mean … this is not a coincidence. Right? They are fucking with me? Seriously guys:
Deafheaven have at this point basically promised that they are writing a record JUST FOR ME and it will be THE GREATEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME. And then they are playing those songs on a tour with TRIBULATION and ENVY, and I am going to see them at Webster Hall and it is going to be THE BEST SHOW I HAVE EVER SEEN.
In last week’s 5 Best Songs, I wrote of “Brought To The Water”:
Deafheaven have frequently been tagged as purveyors of a sub-subgenre called “blackgaze,” i.e., a style of music that blends black metal with shoegaze. “Blackgaze” is such a dumb term in general, but notably, it is absent the word “metal” — and coincidentally, many blackgaze bands seem to reflect that absence in their own sounds. But “Brought To The Water” manages to stay on the path blazed by Sunbather (and Deafheaven’s 2011 debut, Roads To Judah) while also incorporating elements of old-school, horn-throwing METAL that feel both invigorating and timeless. It’s immediately more rugged and organic than anything on Sunbather; where that album achieved soaring heights, “Brought To The Water” suggests unexpected depths.
In the Rolling Stone interview, McCoy says:
“[A] lot of this record is us being like, ‘Look, we are a metal band. We do a lot of other stuff, but we can solo; we can have some Slayer riffs in there. There was a lot of, ‘Hey, what if we throw some traditional thrash metal stuff in here, but just make it our own?’ And I think it worked really well.”
These guys are killing me. Why? What have I ever done to them? Why would they taunt me like this? WHY?! Anyway I can’t fucking wait to hear New Bermuda. Read the whole interview, because there’s a lot more than what I excerpted above, and listen to “Brought To The Water” below, because it rules, goddamnit.
New Bermuda is out 10/2 via Anti. You can pre-order it here.