Deafheaven — Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Since the release of the genre-defining Sunbather in 2013, California's Deafheaven have stood at the forefront of the latest wave of American progressive black metal bands. In 2015, the group successfully followed that record up with New Bermuda (review) and toured heavily in support of that album for the next two years. It is now 2018, and Deafheaven have just issued their fourth full-length studio album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love.
One of the year's most anticipated releases, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love features Deafheaven serving up a hefty dose of their trademarked mixture of blackened post-rock. Clocking in at 61 minutes — which includes four tracks in excess of 10 minutes — this is a very dense record. If you're accustomed to the framework in which Deafheaven operates, then you largely know what to expect here. Delay-soaked melodic passages, foreboding builds and swirling crescendos — all the expected post-rock staples are present. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love feels extremely familiar to the ear, even though the songs are all new material.
While there is room to criticise this new album for not being as experimental as previous efforts from Deafheaven, I still think it's a strong collection of new songs. At this point, we somewhat take it for granted how many disparate styles are melded so seamlessly into these long, sprawling compositions. This new material — while still crushingly heavy in moments — leans in a more melodic rock direction than much of the band's past work. The aggressive climaxes are heavy as ever, but the tracks meander through a lot of down-tempo territory en route to a raging catharsis.
The album isn't without its flaws, however. Some of the songs feel a touch too long, as the droning, atmospheric passages overstay their welcome in some cases. "Canary Yellow" is a good example of this: after a transition from a blast beat-heavy climax, the track segues into a melodic passage reminiscent of Kyuss and then spends another 3 minutes on a belaboured outro. It's not terrible, but on repeat listens I feel like the track could have just faded out at around 10:30 and nothing would have been lost. The track "Near" feels like a segue track, except for the fact it's over 5 minutes long...
"Glint" is easily my favourite track on the whole album. This song is a perfect example of Deafheaven firing on all cylinders. "Glint" opens with a brooding, melodic free jam, before abruptly launching into a soaring metal passage at approximately the 3 minute mark. The song doesn't let up for the remaining 8 minutes, though it does cycle through a number of tasty riffs in that time. This is followed by "Night People," a piano ballad featuring some haunting clean vocals that builds to a payoff that never really comes. It's not a bad interlude, but it feels a little out of place on an album with such lengthy cuts.
The closing track, "Worthless Animal" is a strong note to end on, though "Glint" is such a superior track that they probably should have been swapped in the track list for pacing reasons. Regardless, "Worthless Animal" is still very good, albeit not as concise and polished as its predecessor. In critiquing this track — and, honestly, the album as a whole — I find a lot of issues stem from how spoiled Deafheaven has made us. Everything is on point on Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, there are just a few brief lulls on what is otherwise a very good record. It's not bad, it's just being ranked in an extremely strong discography.
Another strong showing from one of progressive metal's most proficient acts. Deafheaven may not have outdone themselves this time out, but they still put together a strong collection of material. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love opts for a little more atmosphere and melody, but still delivers the goods when it comes to aggressive and crushing heaviness. There are moments where the sprawling instrumentals and segues can become a little much, but overall I still rate this album very highly. Even if this is the worst Deafheaven record — an opinion I do not personally hold — this is still a very good album in its own right.
Release date: July 13th, 2018
Record label: Anti Records
George Clarke — vocals
Kerry McCoy — guitar
Daniel Tracy — drums
Stephen Clark — bass
Shiv Mehra — guitar
- You Without End
- Canary Yellow
- Night People
- Worthless Animal
Published: July 17th, 2018.