’s have been turning heads towards their direction ever since their inception, and with their first full length, Roads to Judah
it is easy to see why. Focusing on a much more post rock inspired wavelength than many other bands within the field, yet still keeping the metallic fury, Deafheaven
have created a competent mixture of the more mellow varieties of post rock with blistering black metal and even the odd touches of screamo. What Roads to Judah
is, is one of the purest examples of the post black metal sound I’ve come across, existing in perfect symbiosis with each individual sound.
Compared to a band like Alcest
, who more often than not entered in the realm of pure shoegaze, Deafheaven
focus much more on the black aspect of the post black style. Yet even with the amount of black metal, Deafheaven
manage to mix things up by injecting a hefty dose of post rock into their sound. Songs follow the post rock structure of the loud-quiet dynamics, crescendos are powerful and emotional and some of the leads wouldn't be out of place on a Godspeed
You! Black Emperor
or Post Royal album. Deafheaven
, along with Cold Body Radiation
, are one of the best bands to perfectly blend black metal with post rock. Unlike a lot of bands within the style, Deafheaven
flirt with both sides of their sound equally.
are able to create long, emotional black metal songs that, with the exception of George Clarke’s anguished screaming, doesn’t have a drop of malice. The melodies are beautiful and highly melodic; with post rock leads constantly flowing within the black metal foundations. Songs feel fluid, constantly moving and flowing, never settling on an idea long enough for it to wear out its welcome. There’s nothing in the way of the standard verse-chorus format, instead focusing on monolithic compositions that are constantly shifting. The atmosphere on Roads to Judah
is really quite excellent; it’s beautiful, yet also filled with a sense of subdued sadness. The vocals in particular are highly anguished and full of sorrow, giving the album an introspective and melancholic feel to it.
On the other hand, the mixing of the album is quite a problem with me. Drums are pushed way too forward into the mix, to the point that they almost obliterate everything underneath them. The bass is almost non existent; the guitars are low in the mix, constantly being buried by the vocals and the drums. This leaves the production of the music quite thin, and unfortunately makes it difficult to hear the melodies properly that are undoubtedly very good and well written. When a band plays music such as this, surely the production needs to work in favor of the music and not against it. A more well rounded production would have done wonders for Roads to Judah
, allowing for the beautiful melodies to shine through much more.
However, despite the productions flaws, the qualities of the music are good enough to allow me too look past that one, slight problem. The music, despite being quite intense at times, especially with the drum and vocal performance, is quite light and airy. As previously mentioned, there are hardly any drops of malice or hatred within Roads to Judah
. Instead, the albums opts for a soothing, almost trance like atmosphere that is very easy for the listener to get sucked into. I’d certainly recommend Roads to Judah
to anyone looking for emotive, forward thinking black metal. Roads to Judah
shows a lot of promise for this young band, and you’ll see their talents blossom even further on their sophomore album; Sunbather