Chances are, if you’ve heard of Deafheaven prior to this review, it’ll be due to their 2013 release Sunbather. The album itself is diverse to its core and as Jay Weinberg (Slipknot, Hesitation Wounds) once said to me “What’s not to love about a metal band that has a pink album cover?” Unfortunately, some people may disagree with that statement, but nonetheless, you cannot disagree that Deafheaven’s ambition is abundantly clear. The quintet provides elements of black metal, shoegaze, post-rock and other elements to create something completely unique every time they release a record. Although the band have admitted that they aren’t by any means the first to do this, they are certainly one of the most successful.
Now, with the release of their new album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, the band have presented arguably their most accessible record to date. With the title coming from Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair, the album embodies a debilitating strive for romanticism. The drum parts laid down by Daniel Tracy typically pave the foundations of the tracks, providing great warmth in tracks You Without End, Near and Worthless Animal. However, the drums also act as a bed of nails, providing the brutal edge to songs like Honeycomb, Canary Yellow and Glint all whilst singer George Clarke provides haunting vocals that chill the listener to the bone. The guitar work by Kerry McCoy is sensational. The melodies flow effortlessly, almost steering the listener between Tracy and Clarke’s destruction and out of the storm unscathed.
Deafheaven’s ability to dial-in on life’s most tender subjects and amplify them within their music is what makes them one of the most distinguishable bands on the planet. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love effortlessly slots straight into the band’s discography, providing another chapter to their painfully beautiful art. The opening track You Without End starts off with the calm sound of wind blowing, creating an atmospheric vibe before being interrupted by a piano melody and guitar work that instantly provides a sense of heartache. Yet, the sizzling warmth of the ride cymbal provides a confusing dynamic; like tears in the blistering sun. Going into Honeycomb, an 11-minute song that features second on the track listing, there is an innate sense of going in reverse, watching the world in slow-motion as someone has hit the rewind button before the apocalypse descends on the entire world. The relentless bass and blast-beats provide and sense of destruction to the first half of the song, before slipping into a dream-like second half that envisions destruction everywhere, yet love prevailing in the centre of it all.
Again, Canary Yellow clocks in at 12-minutes long and just like Honeycomb, provides one of the strongest tracks on the album. It possesses everything you could possibly want in a Deafheaven track and manages to encapture more diversity in a 12-minutes than most artists do in an entire album. Near acts almost like an intermission. With a much calmer and slower pace, it enables the listener to lay back and appreciate sonically what Deafheaven have created. Clarke’s vocals provide a soothing and sometimes overwhelming sense of sleep that can be hypnotically leading towards the end of the track. A change from most of the vocals so far, but again exemplifying Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’s overall sense of diverseness.
The only issue I see people having with the album comes with Night People. A duet with Chelsea Wolfe serves haunting echoes and chilling highs. However, this track does seem to stick out amongst the rest of the album. The song still contains emotion, but maybe stripping back the instruments and heavily relying on piano and vocals may tarnish the album for some fans. Closing out the album is Worthless Animals, a strong track throughout, however, the choice to simply fade out the end of the song and therefore the whole album feels a little weak. There are echoes of wind blowing to bring the album full-circle, but you can’t help but feel a little disappointed with how it has ended.
Despite the few nitpicked issues, the album, on the whole, is incredibly strong. It may not be as brutal as Sunbather or New Bermuda but Ordinary Corrupt Human Love tells its own story. Every album found in Deafheaven’s discography is an art piece in its own right and Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is no different. There is both beauty and melancholy found within, and that is what Deafheaven is all about.
Deafheaven's ability to dial-in on life's most tender subjects and amplify them within their music is what makes them one of the most distinguishable bands on the planet.