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Album Review: New Bermuda by Deafheaven

Blackgaze poster boys Deafheaven have released their third album New Bermuda on Anti- Records. What’s blackgaze I hear you say; well it’s the buzz word for a genre that mixes Black Metal, Post-Rock and Shoegaze. It takes the traditional Black Metal sound, pushes the boundaries with post-rock sonic landscapes and adds an introspective shoegaze twist. Deafheaven were the first act to experiment with the sound, becoming trendsetters with their critically acclaimed 2013 second album Sunbather.

Although an acquired taste, Sunbather was more than worthy of the praise it received and New Bermuda ramps things up a notch. Equally abrasive and pummelling as it is progressive and refined, you’ll find New Bermuda to be an utterly compelling listen. As the blast beats and George Clarke’s screech batter you to within an inch of your life you’ll find solace and serenity in the expansive post-rock moments. Take ‘Luna’ as a prime example, it has all the churning black metal riffs and blast beats that you could ever wish for, yet it also comes in with some of the most expansive and soaring post-rock committed to record this year.

With 5 tracks covering more than 45 minutes you know from the outset that New Bermuda is going to have some epic tracks. Opener ‘Brought to the Water’ smacks you in the face with its brutal combination of frantic blast beats and heavy riffs; with Clarke’s screech adding another visceral element it makes a vicious impression, yet it ends up becoming strangely hypnotising and instantaneous. ‘Luna’ for the qualities previously mentioned is the moment that you realise that you’re listening to something truly special. Spanning over 10 minutes it takes you on a journey that most bands don’t come close to achieving.

‘Baby Blue’ is an astounding track. It has genuine quality in abundance, boundaries that you weren’t even aware existed are pushed and stretched so far that it becomes something so unique and special you can’t quite believe it. The first three minutes of the track take in beautiful progressive post-rock textures before the crushing black metal comes in. It’s a stark contrast that works brilliantly. Couple that with the churning riffs around the six minute mark and you’ve got a track of the highest order. The first half of ‘Come Back’ revels in its brutality, the Black Metal elements are at the very core of Deafheaven and as such the band excels in these moments. That said you’re never far from a riff being stretched and a respite from the frantic drumming. When that happens Deafheaven conjure up the most delicate and serene riffs.

‘Gifts for the Earth’ is the shortest track on the album at 8:22, but also the most interesting. The track takes a different tact in mixing their more accessible style of music with Clarke’s screech. It conjures a compelling and enthralling sound that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. As the guitars build so does Clarke’s vocal coming together in a crescendo of glorious abrasiveness. For an album closer the track couldn’t be any better, there’s the perfect blend of all the different textures throughout New Bermuda, simply stunning.

On New Bermuda Deafheaven aren’t just pushing the boundaries of Black Metal, they’re taking Post-Rock and Shoegaze to another level. It’s not one for the casual music fan, if you’re not familiar with Black Metal or Deafheaven then you’d find it challenging at best. A must hear though, Deafheaven are writing a new template and leading the way in what is still a very new genre.

AD Rating 9/10

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