Top 20 of 2013, Number 2: Deafheaven – Sunbather

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Released: June       Genre: You Decide       Metacritic Rating: 92%

I’m not entirely sure what’s happening on Sunbather most of the time, but I know that it sounds incredible. There’s something very special about Deafheaven’s second full-length, which is as mesmerizing as it is menacing. Sunbather is one of the deepest, most striking metal albums I’ve ever heard, although it has been cited as post rock by some critics. Ultimately it’s impossible to pin down, because it borrows from so many sub-genres and makes them its own, consuming influences and destroying anything that lies in its wake, occasionally relenting to gently piece them back together. Deafheaven play music in a way that a lot of bands aspire to but could never pull off, and the result is an album that rightly deserves the universal acclaim it’s garnered. Sunbather is accomplished, complex and absorbing. It’s a record I’ve played sparingly in order to properly soak it in each time, and most of the time it’s blown me away in a way no heavy album has this year. It is a truly intense record, which is consistently deafening and undeniably intricate. It seems to constantly peak, and there’s very little downtime for an audience to reflect and in that sense Sunbather also consumes the attention of its listener. It draws them in and swallows them whole, spitting them back out as a shaken awestruck mess. Take the title track, which is absolutely spellbinding, with poetic lyrics and astounding delivery. Although the lyrics take a backseat they’re smart and thought-provoking, but the sheer ferocity and ability Deafheaven deliver song after song detracts from anything else, and Sunbather is an album to completely lose yourself in. Opener ‘Dream House’ is another expansive, technical and generally astounding song but there’s so much Deafheaven have to offer, and they offer a lot more than the majority of heavy bands could dream of. Sunbather is monumentally huge, and stands head and shoulders above all of 2013’s more thundering releases.

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