San Francisco’s Deafheaven has been fairly described as a black metal, shoegaze, or post-hardcore band, but it’s difficult to reduce it to a single genre. The band’s debut full-length Roads to Judah was released to much acclaim among the communities attached to these various alternative subgenres. The record was sprawling with atmosphere, with elaborate instrumental arrangements and brooding lyrics brimming with dark imagery. The writing on Sunbather, Deafheaven’s followup to Roads to Judah, is the work of two songwriters — three fewer than on the previous full-length, but with no less ambition. In fact, the record will be 22 minutes and three tracks longer than its predecessor, with multiple instrumental interludes intersecting with stories of class disparity, romantic detachment, and family. I discussed the songwriting process and the content of Sunbather with vocalist George Clarke after the band played a one-off show in Brooklyn.
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Rarely does a band’s demo sound so fully formed, but Deafheaven’s 2010 demo was. Essentially, Deafheaven emerged out of the proverbial womb as a seven foot, 300 pound behemoth. With their demo, they were already able to demonstrate a mastery of mixing many diverse genres and approaches. Their music expertly mixed black metal, post rock and hardcore in a masterful way. Less than a year later, they have released their first full length for Deathwish Inc and it is no lightweight either.
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