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Music / Deafheaven

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I am dying
- Is it blissful?
It's like a dream.
- I want to dream.
"Dream House" off of Sunbather.

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/deafheaven201521.jpg
From left to right: Stephen Lee Clark, George Clarke, Shiv Mehra, Daniel Tracy, and Kerry McCoy.
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Deafheaven is a Black Metal band from San Francisco, CA. Along with Alcest, they are one of the pioneering bands of the post-black metal/blackgaze subgenre, which combines the tremolo picking, blast beats, and Harsh Vocals of black metal with the sunny atmosphere of shoegaze and post-rock song structures. They started off as a two piece consisting of vocalist George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy, under which they self-released a demo. After this got them some notoriety, they recruited new members to fill out their lineup and released their debut record Roads to Judah in 2011, which attained critical acclaim from the music press and put them on the map. They really took off in 2013, when they released their sophomore album Sunbather to widespread critical acclaim, becoming the most praised album of any genre in 2013 on Metacritic, the first metal band to ever do so. Despite this, they became something divisive among the metal community, with many people decrying them as being "hipster metal". Undaunted, the band continued touring and released a third record, New Bermuda, in 2015. This album featured a stronger metal sound, with an increased preponderance of heavy guitar riffs and less shoegaze influence. The band is set to release their fourth studio album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love in July 2018.

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Members

  • George Clarke - Vocals
  • Kerry McCoy - Guitar
  • Daniel Tracy - Drums, Percussion
  • Stephen Clark - Bass
  • Shiv Mehra - Guitar

Main discography (studio albums)

  • 2011 - Roads to Judah
  • 2013 - Sunbather
  • 2015 - New Bermuda
  • 2018 - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Demos, EPs, and Singles

  • 2010 - Demo
  • 2012 - Split (with Bosse-de-Nage)
  • 2015 - "From the Kettle Onto the Coil" (Single)

Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: George Clarke has struggled with alcoholism during his life. It's the inspiration for much of the lyrics on Sunbather.
  • Breather Episode: The even-numbered tracks on Sunbather are structured as this. "Bedrooms" serves the same purpose on the demo.
  • Concept Album: Sunbather, apparently.
  • Cover Version: The band covered two songs by Mogwai for their split with Bosse-de-Nage.
  • Covers Always Lie: The album covers definitely do not reflect the genre.
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  • Darker and Edgier: New Bermuda is this compared to the rest of their discography, arguably.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Windows" samples McCoy buying drugs in order to contrast the real-life hell of addiction with the metaphysical hell the preacher earlier in the track is ranting about. Evidently Roads to Judah was partially inspired by "a year of substance abuse" as well.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The demo is mostly (apart from "Exit:Denied") fairly standard Black Metal with few hints of Post-Rock or Shoegazing influence.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Several songs have one of these. The best example is possibly "Violet".
  • Epic Rocking: Excluding instrumental interludes, the band's average song length is nearly ten minutes long. As of 2019, even with those interludes included, you end up with a mean song length of about eight and a half minutes across their 29 released studio tracks. The longest is "Vertigo", at 14:32.
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Sunbather" -> "Please Remember".
  • For Want of a Nail: The spoken-word passage in "Please Remember" discusses a man's unease at the idea that his romance is essentially a matter of chance.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: As is the norm for black metal. At least Deafheaven, unlike a lot of other bands in the genre, print their lyrics.
  • Instrumentals: "Bedrooms", "Irresistible", "Please Remember", "Windows" (although the latter two contain Spoken Word in Music and/or Sampling)
  • Lighter and Softer: Than most other black metal.
  • Metal Scream: Type 3.
  • Mind Screw: The album Sunbather is described as a concept album that "deals with the profound sadness found in the quest for one's personal perfection... serving as an artistic lucid dream of warmth despite the stinging pain of life's cruel idealism". Even if you read the lyrics, you'll be stumped over what they really mean.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Mostly an 8 or 9 for the metal sections, while the Subdued Sections can drop as low as 1. Parts of New Bermuda could be considered to reach 10, if not the album as a whole.
  • Precision F-Strike: There's a vaguely audible one in the drug dealing section of "Windows". One of the speakers also says "dicked around" once as well.
  • Sampling:
    • "Please Remember" features a sample of Neige of Alcest reading a passage from Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
    • "Windows" contains a sample of a street preacher ranting about hell and a sample of McCoy, who was addicted to pharmaceutical opiates at the time Sunbather was recorded, buying drugs. Clarke commented, "Thematically, it's supposed to be about this guy talking about the evils of hell intermixed with one's own personal hell and the actual realities like addiction and self-worth, not the fire and brimstone. [McCoy] didn't have a lot of money, and he was kind of desperate; he's showcasing the true horrors that are here on earth—one's own personal demons."
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Dream House" -> "Irresistible".
  • Special Guest: Neige on "Please Remember".
  • Subdued Section: Most of their metal songs have them.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Bedrooms" and the interludes on Sunbather (particularly "Irresistible").
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