Three years on from Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, San Francisco’s boundary pushing post-black metallers Deafheaven, return with their most unmistakably unique and intimate album yet. Deafheaven have never felt the need to conform and fifth album Infinite Granite is a bold leap and a few striding sidesteps away from the angsty black metal they’re most known for.
This is the first album that feels so greatly removed from its predecessors and enhances those glittery moments between Daniel Tracey’s raging blastbeats and frontman George Clarke’s scathing vocal cries that have been ever-present on Deafheaven’s previous four full-lengths.
Opener “Shellstar” floats by on dreamy shoegaze clouds with its perky lightness and offers up some upbeat tempos and breezy chorus sections. Clarke swallows the strained, shrill vocals he’s so used to performing and exhales an unexpected and pleasant voice that sweetly harmonises, whispers and soars throughout this blissfully bold statement of arrival.
I’m 30 minutes in to my first listen and only on track two, having found myself repeating the track over and over again. “In Blur” hits the spot in all the right ways and has a chorus that’ll hook you in with its lyrical charm and sparkly guitar plucks. It’s gentle and composed so clears the cobwebs but has enough depth to invest yourself emotionally in. Clarke’s voice feels old-fashioned and familiar, with a little hint of brit-pop maybe … a soothing honey cough drop for your aching day.
The synthesised interstellar voyage of “Neptune Raining Diamonds” leads into what could be one of Deafheaven’s best tracks to date. “Lament For Wasps” is an engaging track with noisy dissonant guitars and thumping drum patterns. It’s a track that showcases the bands talent for sound as well as Clarke’s stunning vocal range. There’s a trippiness to it that’s borderline psychedelic especially with the spacey Pink Floyd-esque guitars woven into the music.
The tranquil beauty of “Mombasa” makes it a final track to cherish. Guitars are simple yet endearing, twinkling through a glimmering background of synths and a serene soundscape, whilst drums remain calm like a peaceful heartbeat leading towards a powerful climax. The highlight is surely Clarke’s haunting lullaby send-off into a finale of blistering blastbeats and blackened tremolos blazing to its abrupt finish and showing that Deafheaven have not abandoned their routes.
I love the unexpected and being a fairly long-time fan of the band, Infinite Granite’s drastic shift from blasting and shrieks to fluffier shoegaze and indie rock, simply felt like a breath of fresh air for this keen blast-head. I’m a man who encourages black metalists to tone it down now and then and have the courage to explore new worlds, especially when those worlds evoke strong feelings and allow melody to melt the darkness away instead of fits of rage. Infinite Granite is so flawless that by the albums end you didn’t miss the blastbeats but instead appreciate the little hints of dark nuance amongst the scintillating beauty of these nine new tracks.
This doesn’t feel like a band exploring new territories. They feel perfectly at home with this fresh take on their sound. The quintet will undoubtedly receive criticism for this u-turn in sound, but don’t they always. The so-called ‘hipsters’ of black metal are a walking dart board for the gripes of purists. But purists will be purists and in Infinite Granite’s case great music is still great music.
Infinite Granite is a vibrant starburst of deep thoughts and happy smiles and there’s no denying its brilliance. It’s an album both radiant with warmth and nuanced enough for reflection. Every track is necessary. Every note is well-thought and appreciated. This is music that is so sad at heart that it soon beams with cathartic happiness. The depth of colour, the passion, the catchiness all make this a thoroughly captivating album that gets your hairs standing on end. Emotions run wild on Infinite Granite and your cold, black hearts should give it a go.
You can purchase Infinite Granite here