New Bermuda comes after a two year studio album silence from the American Black Metal band. Deafheaven took the world by surprise in 2013 with their sophomore record, Sunbather, topping many end of year lists and seeing the band tour relentlessly off the back of it. It’s beautiful mix of post-rock, shoe gaze and black metal made a genuinely unique sounding album for genres that have overall have become stale with a lack of innovation.
Of course Sunbather has it’s critics. Mainly stemming from the die-hard elitism that has become standard in the world of Black Metal, the band, cast off as “Hipsters”, were deemed too bright and colourful to be considered true black metal. However, a new insult will have to be thought for New Bermuda, because if there is one thing album hasn’t got, its bright colours. The album kicks off with the track “Brought To The Water” which builds up with a dark menacing drone with church bells, a move that reminds me that infamous opening to Black Sabbaths first album. The song then explode into a frenzy of blast beats and guitar riffs with a huge thrash metal influence. This songs serves as a message to the critics of Sunbather, that Deafheaven can be dark and heavy as well as beautiful.
The nine minute song intertwines between short post-rock passages right back into Vocalist George Clarke’s punishing screams with ease, my only flaw with the track being the piano passage fading in towards the very end. While the piano piece itself is nice it feels to much like an attempt to imitate “Irresistible” a piano interlude from Sunbather.
The first half of “Luna” is easily the most ferocious moment on the album. For the first five minutes of its ten minutes it viscously assaults the ears with even thrashier riffs and pounding drums. The track then transitions into an absolute gorgeous instrumental passage before exploding into a soaring guitar riff that only goes to prove the song-writing ability within the group. This track transitions into “Baby Blue”, a track that shows the versatility of the band as they managed to make a slide guitar fit within the song.
The final two tracks follow in a similar vein to the rest of the album and both are an equally powerful meld of genres. As much as I love this album, at the tail end of “Come Back” there is a vocal sample of a worker at the Washington bridge played over a drone and rainfall sound effects. This was the second point on this album where I thought Deafheaven were channelling post-rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor a bit too much and it just didn’t really work. The first moment were the chords that opened up “Baby Blue” sounded almost identical to “Sleep” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. However, both tracks are still overall fantastic.
Deafheaven on this project have managed to create an incredible record and used their own personal diverse music tastes (guitarist Kerry McCoy played Drake on Secret Voice radio station) to their own advantage to create another varied project. They took the risk of removing the emphasis on that shoegaze style of Sunbather and it paid off with another excellent album. New Bermuda will most definitely receive the same praise as Sunbather, and I’d say in a few years time the two will definitely be considered cult classics.