A Blackgaze Act: A Review of Deafheaven’s New Bermuda
Deafheaven has always been formidable when it comes to manifesting sounds that envisage deep poignancy entombed in belligerent darkness with poetic lyrics. Currently one of ANTI- Records’ rosters after previously signing to Deathwish and Sargent House, they're back with their new album New Bermuda; an irresistible pulchritude of their sound colliding with elements of dark despair that their listeners can feel thriving in their hearts. When it comes to genre, there has never been anything exact to describe what Deafheaven could be classified into—as one of the most renowned blackgaze acts, they have been known to converge a myriad of subgenres and elements in their songs; they’re full of hybrids. Their previous release, Sunbather, was a top notch attempt on combining post-metal, black metal, and shoegaze elements. Revolting against the traditional black metal purists by being diverse in genres is one of the most appealing thing I find from them, and they’re rocking it out again on New Bermuda. Just that, they seem to have dropped the shoegaze elements they had in Sunbather.
This time, Jack Shirley (who has previously worked with Punch, Whirr, and Loma Prieta, to name a few) took part as the producer again, after his previous work with Deafheaven as Sunbather’s producer and engineer, as the recording of this album took place at 25th Street Recording and Atomic Garden Recording. New Bermuda itself offers transcendental riffs that holler shades of scintillating lights hidden behind the outward vision of dark tones of flaming crusts—in which you can sense several hints of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and If These Trees Could Talk submerged within their sound. Like how George Clarke’s lyrics have always been, the words he engraves and sings are a convergence between blissful glimpses of hope and profound contemplations of existential anguish. One of the lyrics that sends me chills happens to be the one of "Gifts for the Earth"— viscerally drowning in the conundrums of envisaging demise and disintegration; of the earth; of existence;
"I imagine the gracious, benevolent ritual of Death. Grave and porcelain, with baby blue lips and pale pink eyes, descending toward me. Her glowing hands cradled at my head and knees submerging me into waves of icy seas.
I imagine the end.
Then further downward so that I can rest, cocooned by the heat of the ocean floor. In the dark, my flesh to disintegrate into consumption for the earth.”
When it comes to musicality, this 47-minute arc of thrashing turbulence comes off as very progressive and eclectic. Starting out as chaotically almighty, the opening track “Brought to the Water” presents an atmosphere of ferociously fast paces. “Come Back” has a vibe of blackened thrash that is as solid as an undefeated ruling warden with sliding guitars—yet also collides with the art of doldrums. Submerged by a whimsically captivating Kirk Hammett-esque wah-wah solo by Kerry McCoy in the interlude, “Baby Blue” could thrive in the souls of listeners to a transcendental level. “Luna” comes off with its vehement chugging riffs that sound as enrapturing, and would remind you of Young and in the Way. “Gifts for the Earth” sounds like hope; blissful hints of determination to reach transcendence, come hell or high water; overwhelmingly drowning in the space of omnipotent powers.
The way Deafheaven’s sounds tend to appear as indefinable and imperceptible is one of the things that makes them the almighty blackgaze overlords they are; but their consistency on being audacious and envisaging visceral emotions is even more reason for why they stand out.