Vertigo Records Album Review: NEW BERMUDA by DEAFHEAVEN (ANTI)


Written by JP Sadek

vertigologo2011I am neither a great fan or a connoisseur of the black metal genre. Aside from Liturgy’s Aesthetica, which is considered by most fans of the genre to not even be a real black metal album, and a couple of Nachtmystium’s efforts, my knowledge on the subject is nil. However, I have not found any impediment in approaching either of Deafheaven‘s last two records, and I would pretty confidently state that they are black metal in name only.

On the heels of the widely acclaimed Sunbather, the San Francisco five piece could easily have taken an album off and reverted to their roots, gone for a trip back in time to await greater inspiration. That is not the case at all with New Bermuda, and I have to say I’m of two minds about it. Thing is, both those minds are pretty damn stoked about this album.

I mean, it’s all over the place. I wouldn’t call myself eclectic, but I’ve also never confined myself to one genre of music, and simply can’t abide by those folks who will only listen to “technical polyrhythmic death metal” or what have you. Limiting yourself to one niche style and ignoring anything that falls outside of 13-Deafheavenit means your brain is incapable of analysis and appreciation outside of a very defined set of parameters, and the same applies to demanding that your favourite band limit itself to one predefined style.

New Bermuda manages to pepper its black metal base with moments of atmospheric post rock, power metal, cheesy guitar solos, pop punk, post metal, and folk music of all things. I’m not going to go through the record song by song, but I could easily pick out bits lifted straight from Load-era Metallica, mid-career GnR, Faith No More, Skeletonwitch, Isis, Trail of Dead, Russian Circles, Pink Floyd… The list goes on. Although some of these transitions sometimes sound forced or a bit clumsy, I’m always willing to forgive these slight (and barely noticeable) trespasses, because the whole composition makes me think that at least these guys had a bit of fun deafheaven-2making this record. When starting from a genre that takes itself so damn seriously, that’s just plain refreshing. Tongue-in-cheek moments are the rule rather than the exception on the record, which still navigates all these styles through a sea of thick guitar soundscapes.

Amazingly, the drums never let up, they sit right at the top of the mix, and only once on the entire record does Daniel Tracy engage in any semblance of dynamics; and that’s only to allow a bit of piano and acoustic guitar to come through. Normally, that would annoy me, or at the very least give me ear fatigue. Somehow, it fits. Wouldn’t you expect someone having this good a time making a record to just be pounding away? – JP

BABY BLUE by DEAFHEAVEN from the album New Bermuda

(JP Sadek brings his intellect and wit to a site overrun with opinionated, yet passionate yahoos.  After successful stints with such acts as The Dead City Rebels, Longtimers, and Tokyo Sex Whale, JP now drums for a fantastic group of doom rockers, Loviatar.  When he’s not taking on the life of a family man or ravenous fight fan, JP is hard at work as owner/operator of Wolf Lake Studios, in Lac-Des-Loups, Quebec.  Every Wednesday night, HEAD ON A SWIVEL brings a vibrant, yet grounded view on everything from music, the ever-growing world of MMA, politics, art, and everything in between.  Check it!)