“New Bermuda” takes a new direction

Deafheaven’s third album is exceptional
By Austin Vicars
Arts and Entertainment Editor

Photo from deafheavens.bandcamp.com
Photo from deafheavens.bandcamp.com

Many bands fall into a “sophomore slump” after their first record. Deafheaven’s 2013 “Sunbather” was about as hard as a sophomore slump as a band can get. The record was well received by fans and critics alike, along with stirring up quite a bit of controversy in the metal scene with its clash of post rock, shoegaze and black metal. Now with raised expectations how does the latest release “New Bermuda” holdup?
On Oct. 2, Deafheaven released their third studio album “New Bermuda” on ANTI- record label. Deafheaven is a San Fransico based metal band consisting of members George Clarke (vocals), Kerry McCoy (guitar), Shiv Mehra (guitar), Stephen Clark (bass) and Daniel Tracy (drums). These five men are creating some of the most unique music in metal today.
“New Bermuda” sees the band tweaking their signature shoegaze sound for a slightly heavier and darker atmosphere. While the band does not reinvent themselves there is a noticeable change in sound. Diving deeper into their black metal roots Deafheaven brings back some of the soundscapes explored on single “From the Kettle Onto the Coil” and their first album “Roads to Judah.”
Despite portraying darker, more sinster sound, Deafheaven still manages to sprinkle beautiful melodies throughout the albums five songs. This delicate balance of chaos and dreamlike melodies is simply captivating to the listener and is at times entrancing. The second song on the album “Luna” is the perfect example of this mix.
The song starts off with a menacing guitar riff that builds into a wall of double bass drumming and blast beats George Clarke’s shrieking high screams lye amongst the sound. About halfway through the song the band seamlessly switches from black metal assault to a post rock instrumental passage. The instrumental section transfers over one melody to the next and climaxes with Clarke screaming, “Sitting quietly in scorching reimagined suburbia” several times over till the tune fades out. Other standout songs include single “Brought to the Water” and the melodic “Baby Blue.”
Every song on the album features soaring highs and tremendous lows. Even with hard to decipher lyrics Deafheaven makes every track hold emotional weight. The instrumentals found here are moving, from gritty heavy sections to slow drawn out clean sections, “New Bermuda” is an experience for the listener. This formula of breaking down heavy into melody and rebuilding it is nothing new to Deafheaven fans though.
Deafheaven’s new album changes things up enough to feel fresh while still retaining the sound found on “Sunbather.” While it is hard to say that “New Bermuda” is definitively better than the masterpiece that was “Sunbather” the two records are definitely comparable. Just to say that “New Bermuda” is comparable to “Sunbather” is proof of its greatness. As to which record is better? That is up to the listener to decide.