July 9, 2018 Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (Album Review)
California quintet Deafheaven is for the faint of heart. Somehow, the band is also for those who bleed Black Metal to their very core. With their latest effort, this Bay Area outfit are pushing boundaries and locking down their signature sound – a lush melange of thoughtful Shoegaze and abrasive Black Metal. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, set to release on July 13 via Anti- Records, may be Deafheaven’s tightest release to date. Produced by long-time collaborator Jack Shirley, this album follows 2015’s New Bermuda and 2013’s widely acclaimed Sunbather, adding new stories to Deafheaven’s rock-solid foundation. Both ethereal and earthly, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is here to cement Deafheaven as true pioneers of the Blackgaze genre.
It is easy to understand why Deafheaven is one of those bands you dedicate you life to or wish you had never heard. For those in the former camp, Deafheaven’s intricate, heavenly layers of sound are enough to elicit the same chills on your thousandth listen as on your first. There is always something new to find tucked away behind Vocalist George Clarke’s beautiful lyrics, juxtaposing the harsh vocals.
Do not let the seven song tracklist fool you – this album is a colossus, but keeps a laser-focus on the minutia. It is grand in scale with a full hour run time, and several songs soar over ten minutes in length without a moment feeling wasted or overstuffed. Deafheaven prove their mastery of songwriting and composition over and over again, with few dull moments or lackluster arrangements.
At first listen, Deafheaven may lull you into a false sense of security with opener “You Without End.” Beginning with a soft piano intro, the song eventually builds into a wailing guitar solo that would not be out of place in an 80s power ballad with Clarke’s harsh rasp as support. Oh, and a spoken word piece about Oakland takes center stage among layered recordings of ocean sounds. Perhaps the oddest offering on the album, but one that is here to tell you right from the start that Deafheaven are not pulling any punches.
Following that up is the straight-up Black Metal wails of “Honeycomb,” a song that never lets up, even as it fades into pillowy Shoegaze melodies and touching lyrics. Though the relentless, fuzzy guitars and cymbal crashes of the daunting, twelve minute behemoth “Canary Yellow” and Chelsea Wolfe-led “Night People,” the album’s peak is found in the awe-inspiring “Glint.” Triumphant guitar solos, a blinding crescendo, and stinging imagery combine to form a brilliant track that shows off the best of what the band are capable of.
Since bursting onto the scene, Deafheaven have been out to prove that they are among the best at what they do. With Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, the band has added another stellar record to their catalog that will no doubt enchant any brave enough to take the time to peel apart the layers. The album may not fit neatly into any genre, but it seems as though Deafheaven are beyond caring – and that is why this album shines. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.