I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a “fan” in an era of almost instant access to everything. Things turned out pretty much the opposite of how I thought they would — it seems fans dig more deeply into their favored genres instead of casting a wider net, while artists grow ever more syncretic, incorporating different sounds and genres and stretching the boundaries of their medium. For example: Deafheaven
Deafheaven is the band that everyone will be hating on six months from now. Their new album Sunbather is, I think, brilliant. If you are an alt-rock fan with a taste for the sweep and drama of instrumental post-rock bands like Pelican
or Russian Circles
, you’ll see the appeal of Deafheaven. And then
the vocals start, screechy black metal whispers situated right in the middle of the mix, working less as melodic counterpoint than as coloration. This will send the post-rock fans screaming from the room.
But don’t mistake them for some corpse-painted metal act. Deafheaven are achingly sincere, tumultuously over-the-top in their tear-stained angst. This is Rites of Spring if they came from Oslo in the 90s. Emo.
Now the metal fans have fled the room.
But Deafheaven aren’t through. They’re out to alienate every pure genre fan out there.
Focused bombast and black metal vocals aren’t enough – this band has the gall to write ACTUAL PRETTY MELODIES. I know, right? What the fuck is up with that? There are songs on this record where all the furiously strumming and impassioned screaming drop away and leave single notes ringing in vast silence. These combine and recombine and mutate into lovely little snippets of melody that then get crushed by the next fusillade of furious guitar. And so the indie rockers don their ironic fedoras and take their leave.
Who’s left to like them? I have no idea.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We have been waiting for this moment for a long time and are stoked beyond belief that Bitter Old Punk has decided to jump on board as a BHAMFM writer. Show him all the love you can because his opinions are worth more than gold to Glenn Beck around these parts.