Deafheaven come actually from San Francisco in California, but their music is typical of Cascadian black metal: if one listened to Sunbather without knowing anything about the band, s/he would immediately recognize this American sound: very long songs that alternate between fast parts and slow parts, arpeggios, keyboards. What mainly characterises this genre is the atmosphere, which is unique and peculiar to this kind of music: it is a dreamy, sometimes even ethereal, one; the scream is attuned into this melodic frame and is never aggressive. Of course there is so much melody.
In the sound of Deafheaven the listener will be able to find all these ingredients; their music is really beautiful, maybe a bit cloying. The production would perhaps have been better with clearer sounds. On the other hand, it is typical of the culture of this genre not to favour productions.
The album consists of seven songs. The first song “Dream House” has a very nice and impressive beginning that projects us into the floating atmosphere of the album; the song then goes on with blastbeats, slow and meditative interludes, arpeggios and melodies. The second song “Irresistible” is a kind of an instrumental outro to the first song: it only lasts three minutes and continues the arpeggiated notes on which “Dream House” ends. “Please Remember” is also instrumental, but contains keyboards too. Two other very beautiful songs are “Vertigo” and “The Pecan Tree”. The even songs are all shorter and are practically interludes between the odd songs that are longer; one could say that the real songs on this album are only the odd songs, ie four songs.
The texts of Sunbather are very contemplative, but at the same time they are characterized by an “unpoetical” language in which things of everyday life, which apparently do not have anything poetic, such as dogs or a towel, appear; for example “Sunbather” says: “I watched the dogs twist through the wealthy garden. I watched you lay on a towel in the grass that exceeded the height of your legs”. As one can note, however, there is something paradoxical in the grass that exceeds the height of the legs, so the atmosphere of the lyrics also acquires a, so to say, surrealistic nuance. I think that the short dialogue at the end of “Dream House” is very beautiful”: this dialogue likens death to a dream and ends with a desire for dream:
- “Is it blissful?”
“It's like a dream.”
- “I want to dream.”
Sunbather is a really beautiful album, and at times even very intense, but I would not say that it is a masterpiece. After all it does not add anything to what Wolves in the Throne Room has already done.
Sunbather was released on June 11, 2013 through Deathwish Inc. The Japanese version also features a bonus track “Punk Rock / Cody”, a Mogwai cover.
1. “Dream House” 9:15
2. “Irresistible” 3:13
3. “Sunbather” 10:17
4. “Please Remember” 6:26
5. “Vertigo” 14:37
6. “Windows” 4:43
7. “The Pecan Tree” 11:27
George Clarke - vocals
Kerry McCoy - guitars, bass, piano
Daniel Tracy - drums
Stéphane "Neige" Paut (Alcest) - spoken word on "Please Remember"