New Bermuda Album Review
Released October 2, 2015
Genre: Black Metal, Post Rock, Post Metal, Alternative Rock
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a metal band meet so much love and hate at the same time. Deafheaven is one of those bands that evokes such strong emotions in music listeners; however, these emotions aren’t necessarily good. Deafheaven’s very melodic, melancholic and emotionally sensitive approach to black metal on their smash-hit sophomore LP Sunbather upset many kvlt purists and tickled fancies in many hipsters. The juxtaposition of face-melting blast beats and wretched vocals with melodic Skramz-esque guitar leads created a schism in music fans. Deafheaven noticed that their sound was making people talk, inspiring them to capitalize on the mixture of HARD-AS-NAILS and sawft-as-yogurt. New Bermuda has moments where the tried and true formula works, but many times the fusion of feels is forced.
There are a few changes to Deafheaven’s sound. George Clarke’s vocals are less reverb-soaked, creating a more traditional black metal sound. It’s even dirtier than his singing on Deafheaven’s last two LPs, which will appease black metal purists. The soft guitar interludes also appear without warning in most songs, transitions quicker and less obvious. The drumming is just as relentless as ever and the bass still doesn’t really make much of an impact, just like on Sunbather.
Unlike Sunbather, the hard-soft dichotomy is forced, feeling like it’s there just for the sake of having contrast. On “Come Back,” the three minute soft-rock outro comes out of nowhere. It sounds like an instrumental interlude that would’ve been better off as it’s own song on the album. The next track, “Gifts Of The Earth,” starts like a pop punk song but is quickly assaulted by black metal vocals that don’t meld with the music at all. Even on the standout opener, “Brought To The Water,” the clean guitar section that bisects the song sounds like “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer. When you’re borrowing from 90s radio rock to craft black metal, it’s really a sign of the times.
Although this problem affects most of the album, “Luna” and “Brought To The Water” are still nice tracks. “Luna” actually melds the sensitivity with the rawness, providing a winding song structure that keeps listeners on their toes. It’s a totally unpredictable song, but not haphazardly constructed. “Brought To The Water” comes out guns a-blazing and never lets up. Every musician pushes their instrument to the brink by playing with intense speed and passion.
New Bermuda was a disappointment for a fan of Deafheaven’s previous output. If it felt more natural it would’ve been fantastic, but focusing on the hard-soft gimmick proved to be this album’s main detractor.
FAV TRACKS: Brought To The Water, Luna
LEAST FAV TRACK: Gifts Of The Earth