When I first saw Deafheaven on the "Roads to Judah" tour they were opening up for Alcest in a small club. The first thing that struck me was the vibe of wait these guys did not grow up listening to metal they used to be hard core kids now playing black metal. I have not really noticed any hard core influence from these guys before. Not sure if this was a conscious change of direction on their part or not. There is still a lot of metal to what they do. The first song feels more like a kind of Myspace take on post-hard core. The cadence of the vocal on the second song is what keys me into the hard core under currents that are sometime more overt but disguised by the melodic guitar. This does not mean they have abandoned black metal altogether. There are blast beats in the second song. It is how ever not all that dark. I can hear touches of an Alcest influence on how the sung vocals are introduced.
The results are often something that might be their moment accessible moments. Very commercial modern post-emo rock vibes with "Us Against December Skies". If the vocals were screamed not shouted like this the results would be more metal . The drummer is a freaking amazing monster, who plays for Septic Flesh and handles live drums for Behemoth. I mean this is a good hard core album with black metal influence. They do have a black metal history so belong in this month. Yes the touches of black metal reoccur through out but that kind of darkness is not what they are about. It is not surprise that the roads that connect post rock to emo and post rock to black metal might overlap. They sometimes do with screamo bands. These guys even came correct with the ironic song titles. Despite this they have their sense of dynamics really dialed in a care about their songs. The execution is flawless even if you are unsure about their direction. The vocals really get into more of a hard core groove with " Three Empty Words".
I have mixed feelings about this . I mean is this album going to be like their Kiss disco period just hard core ? The guitar playing makes them stand out as something other than a hard core band or even screamo as it is more nuanced and .dynamic. The tone shifts and is not afraid to add effects . The album as a whole is really well produced. This is their 5th album so they should know what they are doing. The guitar is really interesting and almost progressive on " Once Upon a Winter" . The song goes through a great number of transitions smoothly. "And Oceans Between Us " seems like an extension of the previous song. " Sliver Needle" is almost to brightly angry.
They get more metal and melodic on "Time is a Ghost". Aside from the darker throb it is not more black metal, but more metal in it's deliberate heaviness. Sonically they remain pretty lush which is this album's strong suit. What they do on the last song works it is just not all that original and feel a little dialed in. I will give this album a 8.5 as it is very well done and the songs are good they took a risk wit the shift and it paid off. Perhaps not something I will listen to a ton but I enjoyed the spins I gave it . T