Deafheaven LIVE: Review
Seeing Deafheaven live has been one of my (Peter Dunmore) main focuses since discovering them. Their cathartic wall of shoegaze infused black metal is unique, original and magnificent. The Sophomore release, Sunbather blew the scene away and was loved by a number of people, yet dismayed by many purists of black metal as ‘hipster metal’. All I say to that is open your mind and sunbathe…
The album cover was anything but black metal. Yet inside, musically, Deafheaven created a wonderfully harrowing 59 minutes 58 second emotional journey. Blackgaze was born. Passages of intense bleakness, shrieking vocals and full guitars were intertwined with poignant moments of euphoric, reminiscent, delicate bliss.
The band followed Sunbather with their most recent release, New Bermuda. It’s adopted a similar pattern and style, with only five songs but running for 46 minutes and 40 seconds. Deafheaven have managed to expand and knit genres together that have never been formed as one. It creates, like Sunbather, a wondrous, cleansing listen.
New Bermuda was the main focus of the show, with only a couple of songs from Sunbather and Dream House. Opening with , they teased with a looping intro before the barrier of sound hit the crowd. My ears at this point were at their most vulnerable; “Should have brought earplugs”, was my casting thought. Incessant, relentless blast beats and chugs opened before a barrage of tremolo gained emphasis accompanied by George Clarke’s powerful, snarling vocals. It was then I knew the next hour would be exhilarating, capturing and striking. Clarke’s vocals live were exemplary and matched his studio vocals wonderfully.
, , and were all played to a packed, ecstatic venue. What I found pleasantly surprising was the amount of regular everyday people there. It wasn’t as you’d expect, full of leather jacketed, long black haired metal heads but the ‘ordinary’ person and I found that wonderful; knowing that Deafheaven have such a varied fan base of an average age of early to mid-twenties, which is a rather mature age for live heavy modern music (no ‘emo’ or ‘scene kids’ was a breath of fresh air).
Once the entirety of New Bermuda was performed Deafheaven left the stage promptly without much notice, but it wasn’t long before they made their way back on stage for an encore; a 20 minute encore at that. The aforementioned songs off Sunbather, were performed and George Clarke continued with his unique stage presence, using a microphone stand the majority of the time, whilst also dancing in between moments of conducting the crowd, the band and himself. Guitarists Kerry McCoy and Shiv Mehra as well as bassist Stephen Clark were more stationary throughout, yet, it worked.
The screen behind the stage was static in its display and mainly read ‘DEAFHEAVEN’ in the band’s font. Only very occasionally was there a moving background, among lengthy colour changes. Again, it worked. The scene was set for a memorable night of live music and it never fell short of doing so. All I can say is I hope to see Deafheaven again very, very soon and you should, too.