I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about music, therefore, I try to assume nobody else does either. Experts are few and far between, and no matter how much knowledge you may have yourself, there’s always more to discover. If there wasn’t, the world would be a giant disappointment.
So just because I name both Deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage as two of my favorite new bands going in extreme music today doesn’t mean I expect the rest of the world just falls in line and knows all about them like I do. I assume there probably are people out there who love metal and really don’t know much about these two bands because they aren’t on giant labels and probably will never be the subject of a full-page, front-end glossy ad in a music magazine. So if you’re unaware of either group, there’s a new offering from Flenser Records, a split 12-inch, that could be a nice introduction for you. And if you’re like me and already think highly of both bands, this is an incredibly impactful addition to your collection.
Both Deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage hail from the fruitful Bay Area, and each band uses black metal in their unique approaches to metal. But that’s kind of where the comparisons end. Deafheaven is spacier, more exploratory, and have a cinematic bend to their music, while Bosse-de-Nage have a knack for Slint-like indie rock, tend to feel like a stab wound, and have a psychotic bend to their vocals and lyrics that are terrifying because they sound like the product of a human being whose inner wiring is melting. Those two combined would make for as pretty bizarre live bill, but pairing them back to back on a stage also would be an incredibly exciting way to spend an evening. The gamut of emotions would be run and permanently exhausted. So you can imagine how this new split effort will strike you.
Deafheaven’s contribution is an interesting take on Mogwai’s “Punk Rock/Cody,” the opening, conjoined two tracks of their 1999 album “Come on Die Young.” When I heard they were tackling this song, it made perfect sense to me, but it still was an awakening hearing the finished product. Unlike Mogwai, who used a clip from an Iggy Pop appearance in 1977 on Canadian TV, Deafheaven use a clip from William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech from 1950, where he spoke about an artist’s role and responsibility, especially in a post-World War II world. As the music begins to take hold, there are strains of Deafheaven’s version that try to stay somewhat true to the originals, but when the “Cody” portion bleeds in, things change.
Vocalist George Clarke, as he is wont to do, doesn’t go with Mogwai’s softer, more reflective approach to the vocals and instead lets off like a banshee, howling and shrieking like blood is spraying from his mouth. Yet in his fire, there is a generous amount of emotion and vulnerability to his performance. He isn’t trying to be brutal for the sake of doing so. He’s simply taking the story Mogwai originally told and making it more intense and immediate for an audience 12 years later. Musically, there are so many crescendos, so many high points, that your own inner energy is bound to soar through your ceiling. I find it impossible to hear Deafheaven and not feel myself ebbing and flowing internally with them, and their version of “Punk Rock/Cody” is no exception. I keep listening to this cut over and over again, and I’m thrilled by the personal artistic touch Deafheaven put on this song. Excellent job, and I can’t wait for their next full-length.
For more on the band, go here: http://deafheaven.com/
Bosse-de-Nage are a bizarre group. Their music is twisted artistically, and I can safely say there is no other band out there that sounds like this one. In fact, it would be impossible to replicate this group’s sound because no one else possibly could have their psyche. The world couldn’t handle a duplicate. They seemed to absolutely drain themselves on this year’s brilliant “III” (out on Profound Lore), but it turns out they had even more in their tank. Their new song “A Mimesis of Purpose” is practically a best-of that demonstrates everything this band does so well. If you are fragile mentally, always be careful because this band can hit a little too close to your own scars.
The song opens with some militaristic drumming, and clean, solemn guitar work that makes it sound like perhaps the band is showing a softer side. But it’s a red herring. After vocalist B. begins to recite dark poetry over the melody, the song stop on a dime, and a doom-infused riff blows in and everything turns toward the sinister. The vocals morph into a monstrous, deranged growl, the tempo goes in a direction that’s a little different for the band—it’s hard to explain why…it just feels odd—and hellacious emanations sprawl all over. As if everything didn’t already feel Apocalyptic and fucked, doom horns rise up behind the chaos and signal that the world is about to crumble in a void. There is no recovery, no hope, and nothing good left in the world. It’s all filth and fury, and you feel like you’re going to die alone. One never should expect to feel uplifted by this band, but this is a renewed sense of hopelessness.
For more on the band, go here: http://bosse-de-nage.com/
Yes, these bands are quite diverse, but together, they seem to complete each other emotionally. You’ll be exhausted after this 20-minute union, and if you’re new to either band, you might also have discovered a new group that makes you love for metal that much more enthralling. If you already have an allegiance to one or both, your discipleship will be that much stronger.
To buy the album, go here: http://store.theflenser.com/product/deafheaven-bosse-de-nage-split-lp-pre-sale
For more on the label, go here: http://theflenser.com/
I’ve been a big Deafheaven fan since the demo, but have never cared for BdN. I will definitely give them another shot though, after reading this review. Looking forward to hearing both sides.
BdN certainly isn’t for everyone. But check out ‘III’ if you haven’t yet. Thanks for reading.
A very convincing read! I remember loving deafheaven’s older release “Roads To Judah”..never heard of the other band but I’ll definitely check this out!