PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Deafheaven - "Brought to the Water" (audio)

For all of the light that lingers in Deafheaven's music, malevolence takes on a more prominent role in "Brought to the Water".

Adrien Begrand: The highly anticipated (by some) new track by the San Francisco critical darlings gets off to such a roaring start that it feels as if they're revisiting the raw, feral, cathartic sounds of their astounding album Roads to Judah. Soon, however, the worm turns, the guys dish out the usual critics' catnip, try too hard to "branch out", and lose sight of what made them so strong in the first place. As a black metal band Deafheaven were -- and sometimes are -- outstanding, as you hear during the searing first three minutes and 25 seconds, but then ambition gets the best of them. Guitarist Kerry McCoy, a formidable talent in his own right, heads off into arbitrary directions the rest of the way, first nicking the melody from Neil Young's "The Loner", then guiding the band through a mellow section that swipes from Alcest (the true innovators of the "metalgaze" sound) building to a decent Ride-goes-prog-metal climax that ends with a predictable piano coda. It's nothing particularly imaginative, stitched together capably but far from seamless. The biggest problem, once again, is George Clarke's screamed vocals. Harsh and extremely intense, his screams work very well when the music is equally as extreme, but when juxtaposed with more melodic, sensitive passages, they come off as borderline comical, his goblin snarl devoid of subtlety, creating an oil-and-water mix that never for a second emulsifies. Structurally inconsistent, derivative, and slipshod, and dragged farther down by a voice with zero personality, this is an frustrating failure of a song. But those critics who only listen to one "consensus" metal album every year will likely drool all over this band once again, ignorant of likeminded yet superior artists that deserve more attention. Sorry, tastemakers, but these so-called emperors have been buck naked for a few years now. [4/10]

Evan Sawdey: * Evan walks into the breakroom at the PopMatters' office to drink from our Perrier water cooler, notices fellow writer Brice Ezell on the floor, convulsing with pleasure from the furious double-tom hits of the first movement of Deafheaven's first new music in some time, to say nothing of the hugely melodic sweep of the second part, is also aware Brice, just like Evan, still can't make out exactly what the band is saying until like listen #5, but still isn't sure *

"So, you liking it, Brice?"

* Brice continues convulsing *

"You think that the piano outro is going to get a lot of critics making 'Layla' comparisons for the sole reason that it's a rock song that's over six minutes and has an outro, which, beautiful and well-placed as it is, is kind of a lazy parallel to make?

* Brice continues his spasms of involuntary good-music overload unabated, Evan walks back to his desk and adds three more lines to his tone poem about vaporwave artists past and present * [8/10]

Brice Ezell: "Brought to the Water" is a promising hint that Deafheaven did exactly what they were supposed to do following their 2013 masterstroke Sunbather: turn up the darkness. Whereas the juxtaposition of major-chord post-rock and frontman George Clarke's piercing screamed vocals is what makes Sunbather such a stunner, that light/dark contrast can only go so far. This is particularly true because much of the territory that Deafheaven mines on that record had already been explored by their obvious progenitors, namely Alcest (see 2007's unforgettable Souvenirs d'un autre monde). "Brought to the Water", the first song to be unveiled from the forthcoming New Bermuda LP, still features guitarist Kerry McCoy's penchant for lovely, somewhat un-metal chord progressions; one critic invoked a comparison to Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me", perhaps the first time such an observation has been made in relation to a metal band.

Yet for all of the light that lingers in Deafheaven's music, malevolence takes on a more prominent role in "Brought to the Water". The palm-muted riff prior to the kick-in of the first verse touches on the black metal dissonance that's often submerged in Deafheaven's sound, and Clarke's vocals take on a malice that's heretofore been absent. The band hasn't forgotten their pretty side, though; just as the song starts to fall into a fade-out -- a regrettable production choice that dragged down Sunbather's otherwise excellent closer "The Pecan Tree" -- wistful and melancholic piano chords bring things to a reflective close. Should New Bermuda follow in this darker sonic, things bode very well for Deafheaven, who have no small task in following up Sunbather. [8/10]


Oct 15 San Diego, CA – The Casbah

Oct 16 Pomona, CA – The Glass House

Oct 17 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore

Oct 19 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom

Oct 20 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre

Oct 21 Seattle, WA – Neumos

Oct 23 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge

Oct 24 Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall

Oct 25 Lawrence, KS – The Granada

Oct 26 St. Louis, MO – The Ready Room

Oct 28 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line

Oct 29 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon

Oct 30 Chicago, IL – Metro

Oct 31 Detroit, MI – Shelter at St. Andrews

Nov 01 Toronto, ON – Opera House

Nov 02 Montreal, QC – Club Soda

Nov 03 Boston, MA – Royale

Nov 05 New York, NY – Webster Hall

Nov 06 Washington, DC – The Howard Theatre

Nov 07 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer

Nov 08 Carrboro, NC – Cat's Cradle

Nov 10 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade – Downstairs

Nov 11 Orlando, FL – The Social

Nov 13 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Studio

Nov 14 Austin, TX – Mohawk

Nov 15 Dallas, TX – Trees

Nov 17 Albuquerque, NM – Sister

Nov 18 Phoenix. AZ – Crescent Ballroom

Nov 20 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy

Nov 21 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy

Oct. 15 – Nov. 21 with Tribulation

Oct. 30 – Nov. 7 with Tribulation and Envy

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.