KWCR Album of the Week: 'Sunbather' by Deafheaven

Sometimes the genre of metal unforgivingly categorizes and stereotypes bands that have a sound as unique as the art that decorates their album covers. Deafheaven is one of these bands. Their sound is heavy without being chaotic, and the almost symphonic sound of Deafheaven’s latest album, “Sunbather,” is hipster-metal at best, and worthy of a listen.

Although decorated like a pop album, unknowing listeners will be caught by surprise when the vocals hit in “Dream House” (No. 1). Delicate and organized noisecore, the song “Vertigo” (No. 5)  is a poetic 14-and-a-half-minute compromise between a racket similar to “Explosions in the Sky” and “Daughters.” How Deafheaven meshes these two together is exactly why their sound is unique.

The three instrumental tracks on the seven-song album take the listener through more different moods than is typical of black metal. This album is warm and fast-paced, an experimental epic.

If the abrasive vocals aren’t making listeners crack a smile and grip the air with metal fingers, then the drum work definitely will. Free of the typical breakdowns, the drum work on “Sunbather” includes blast beats and the China cymbal to keep time.

It’s really the extras that carry the album from sunny and fast to shadowy and slow, moods which are experienced in each song on the album but especially in “Windows” (No. 6).  The nearly five-minute mantra of effects and samples has a doom element with strong religious themes.

I award this album 4.5 stars. The vocals speak for the style as well as the band itself. The head-bobbing instrumentals can be replayed over and over. Similar artists I would recommend are Young Widows, Old Man Gloom and Early Graves.

KWCR Album of the Week is a collaboration between The Signpost and KWCR. Album review by Raychel Johnson, The Signpost editor-in-chief.