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Album Review

When we think about black metal, there's a certain expectation we associate with it; a feeling of icy bleakness that grips the listener by the spine and throws them into a pit of existential despair. Metal, however, is not a genre concerned with simply meeting expectations; it wants to destroy and subvert them. On Sunbather, their sophomore album, San Francisco's Deafheaven do just that. Imbuing their sound with elements of shoegaze and post-rock, the band create a stunning sonic shift from suffocating darkness to enveloping light. Made up of four sprawling tracks strung together by ambient interstitials, the album drifts between moments of manic catharsis and contemplative calm, allowing the listener a moment of respite in its expansive soundscapes before releasing another intense deluge of rhapsodic emotion (and blastbeats). Amazingly, Deafheaven manage to make an album that feels completely different, tonally speaking, from any other death metal record, while still tackling the same subject. The album explores themes of death, regret, doubt, loss, and fear, but it does so through poetic exploration rather than profane confrontation. This lighter touch gives the listener time to really internalize and reflect upon the lyrics rather than react viscerally, making for an altogether deeper experience for those willing to take the time to really take the album in. Many bands go through their entire career without making an album as well crafted, fully realized, and downright gorgeous as Sunbather, and somehow, Deafheaven have managed to nail it on their second outing, with an album that seems to get bigger and more affective with each listen.

Customer Reviews


Beautiful. Menacing. Epic. Melodic. Atmospheric. Perfect. Album of the year, hands down. Maybe one of the most passionate and emotional albums I've heard. A must buy.


This is a beautiful album. I like some metal-esque bands, but I'm not a metal person per se. This album works the same vein that Envy does, and I love it. The contrast between the vocals and the chord progressions is insanely stirring. My girl said it sounds like Explosions in the Sky with someone screaming over it. That's an apt description. They're coming to my town next month and you know I'll be there. Thanks for a truly moving bit of music, y'all.

My Favorite of 2013 is...Metal?

I don't listen to Metal. I was intrigued by an album categorized as Black Metal with a cover that looks like it should be for a cheesy synth-pop record. This album is remarkable. It's experimental, but no doubt Metal all the way through. For the epic grandeur, I believe The Pecan Tree should have concluded with a little more gusto as it fades out somewhat abruptly. Yes, I realize how nit picky of a critique this is, but that's how particular you need to be in order to find any downfalls. If all Metal was this good, I would listen to Metal. Headphones encouraged.


Formed: 2010 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '10s

Originally formed as a duo in 2010, Deafheaven are an experimental black metal band from San Francisco, California. Initially made up of George Clarke (vocals) and Kerry McCoy (guitars), the band has a sound that blends black metal with elements of shoegaze, adding a layer of warmth to the genre's typically icy sound while expanding the emotional range outside of the typical themes of death, despair, and hopelessness. As a duo, Clarke and McCoy wrote and recorded a demo on their own that would get...
Full Bio
Sunbather, Deafheaven
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Customer Ratings