Deafheaven’s place in the world changed drastically back in 2013, when their second album - the brutal but shimmering ‘Sunbather’ - became a cult hit and propelled them out of the somewhat insular black metal scene that they’d existed in for half a decade.
Their 2015 follow-up, ‘New Bermuda’, felt like a reaction to their new-found exposure, an excellent but slightly off-balance return that gave little hints as to their future direction. Enter ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’, a fourth studio album that at once repositions the band as a genreless powerhouse and intriguing heavy force.
Deafheaven are more strongly associated with the punishingly heavy side of their ‘blackgaze’ hybrid, with pummelling drums meeting George Clark’s blackened yelps, but it’s their quieter, sweeping soundscapes that rule the roost on LP4.
Opener ‘You Without End’ channels Explosions In The Sky in its widescreen, open-road feel, punctuated by sung backing vocals, before George’s vocals add bite to the sheen. The hammerblow of ‘Honeycomb’ follows. The heaviest cut on ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’, it channels the relentless barrage that filled ‘New Bermuda’, helmed by Daniel Tracy’s biblical work behind the kit.
It’s the little surprise flourishes that make ‘Honeycomb’ - and ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’ - such a delight as a whole though; at the four-minute mark, the track turns from a pummelling metal track into a punk song that skips along with momentum, with guitarist Kerry McCoy throwing out Thin Lizzy-esque guitar licks. It’s the sign of the band never having had more fun.
Across ‘Canary Yellow’, which veers wildly from serene to chaotic and closes with gorgeous, sung backing vocals, another new and welcome sidewards step that the album hands over, and the shoegaze-meets-post-rock of the glistening ‘Near’, Deafheaven finally look comfortable in their many different skins, their opposing worlds gliding together seamlessly, able to change between brutally heavy and light as air in seconds. Finally moving on from their labels as a buzz band, or a flash in the pan, ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’ sees Deafheaven promise they’re here to stay.