More Finnish hell arrives with Lantern’s destructive, doom-infested debut ‘Below’

lantern
Finland, here we are again. Another dark, crusty, bruising slab of death metal from your country, a place I’m sure is beautiful, though I’ve never been there, but you’d think otherwise from some of the grimy chaos your musicians have emitted recently. Not that I’m complaining. Keep it as dark and nasty as you can make it, because the run of death squads from your country has been impressive.

And once again we’re settling in with a Dark Descent release, as they’ve culled a hearty, rich crop of the bands from that area and have brought the world some of the finest underground acts going, this time striking gold with Lantern. This duo is a new entry into the world, but they grew out of something already in existence, that being their previous band Cacodaemon, but on the eve of that group’s dissolution, Lantern was forged. This group combines guitarist/bassist/drummer Cruciatas and vocalist Necrophilos into a raging, coffin-ready unit that keeps their sound and influences concentrated on the death bloodstream of the early 1990s.

lantern coverThe band’s full-length debut “Below” follows in the footsteps of a couple of demos and their 2011 EP “Subterranean Effulgence,” and they slowly, carefully crafted these seven tracks that slither by in a little under 40 minutes. That’s a perfect length for this record, as they don’t waste time trying to conjure filler material and they keep the proceedings as violent and mean as they possibly can, meaning “Below” is a perfect dose of their dusty, doomy, infernal death metal but is long enough that you’re definitely going to feel some bruising when it’s over.

This vicious strangler opens up with “Rites of Descent,” that boasts a filthy death riff that opens the casket door, and the wild growls and maniacal screams let you know doom has arrived. There is plenty of crunch, murky fury, and razor-sharp guitar leads that cut through the madness. “Revenant” feels like terrible storm clouds settling in and getting ready to rock you in your house, with talky growls, fast and aggressive playing, and tumult that reminds me a little of Sepultura at their very earliest. “Wrenching Presences” has a morbid atmosphere and a riff that would make Slayer in their prime jealous, and that sets the stage for swirling terror, raw viciousness, and a swarm of anger that boils and bursts. “Manifesting Shambolic Aura” is fast, fuming, and evil through and through, and if you didn’t get that from the sound of the song, you surely will when Necrophilos ritualistically chants, “Ave Satan,” and calls him, “My lantern in the dark.”

“Demons in My Room” might appear cartoon horror film-style from its title, but its doom-infested, dizzying punishment makes it seem more like a first-person account of a haunting rather than something involving buckets of fake blood. “Below” is a slow, numbing, droning instrumental that leads you through a horrible door and right into the 9:20-long closer “From the Ruins.” The track ignites pretty early on, indicating it might go off the rails and take you with them, but they pace themselves, take moments to grind your face into the pavement, and really make sure you’re suffering at the fullest. Then about halfway through, the track ignites again, growls and snarls pour out, terrible chants rise up, and the forces of hell grab you and force you into their suffocating caverns, leaving you forever a bloodstain on the Earth’s crust. Or something like that.

Once again, Dark Descent have found a Finnish abomination to unleash onto an unsuspecting public, and result will mean more lost souls, more demented minds, more crushed bones. Lantern are one hell of a devious force that plays death metal as truly and purely as they come and have nothing but bad intentions in mind. The record might not lead you into eternal damnation, but it’ll give you one generous taste of what burning forever might feel like.

For more on the band, go here: http://lantern.dy.fi/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

Amon Amarth prove there’s plenty in the metallic well with ‘Deceiver of the Gods’

AMON AMARTH by JOHN McMURTRIEI like to be surprised when listening to music or getting my hands on a new record, as that’s one of the things that keeps my interest level high. But now and again it’s nice to have safe haven bands where you know what you’re going to get and that ease and comfort helps you slip into a comfort zone.

But just because a band’s output can be predictable doesn’t mean the group is lazy. Today’s subject matter, Swedish Viking enthusiasts Amon Amarth, certainly have their formula down, that being melodic, smooth death metal that digs up tales of Norse mythology. Their records are always excellent sounding, well-produced slabs of goodness that are gooey and tasty but also provide enough hammer blows to satisfy your extreme urges. I unabashedly love the band and always have, and even as my metallic tastes grow darker and more underground, bands like Amon Amarth will always have a soft spot in my heart because I also like to have fun.

amon amarth coverThe band’s ninth record “Deceiver of the Gods” is about to land, and if you’re into the band and their canon, you’re going to be right at home when tackling this beast. The songs sound huge, Johan Hegg is in fine voice as always, and there’s enough epic glory contained within the record to keep your blood surging for months. But a deeper look at the record also finds some nuances that do surprise, from the darker guitar work, a couple of longer songs that set drama and intrigue that remind of their earliest work, and even one hell of a great special guest appearance that should have doom metal fans foaming at the mouth with glee. But we’ll come back to that one. Yeah, this sounds like an Amon Amarth album, but it’s certainly got some unpredictability weaved in here and there, and that makes for one of the band’s more captivating albums.

Much of Amon Amarth’s lyrical content this time focuses on Loki (or Loke), the dark, mischievous Norse mythological character whose trickery with the higher powers above is referenced in the album title. But that’s not all they’re on about this time around, as they focus on all kinds of fantastical, mythological elements that combine to make for a really fun record, and a rousing adventure to boot. Along with the burly Hegg are guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg, bassist Ted Lundstrom, and drummer Fredrik Andersson, the same group that’s been making hellacious noise since 1998, and they don’t sound like they’re anywhere near running out of energy or compassion for what they do so well. Also, Andy Sneap is the man behind the production, and he gets the gigantic, boisterous sound this group does so well, and this is a fantastic-sounding record.

The band kicks off with the thunderous title track, built with glorious guitar work, bashing drumming, and Hegg’s meaty shout, showing early on that you’re not going to disappointed by the band, though you may be surprised from time to time. “As Loke Falls” has a mournful guitar line that introduces the cut, later some fiery finger tapping, and then the song explodes into a raucous storyteller that seems to reveal some Iron Maiden influence. “Shape Shifter” imagines its character morphing into “the eagle in the sky” and howling wolves at night, and it’s a pretty classic-style Amon Amarth cut. “Under Siege” has some punishing, tricky guitar work, and it feels like the band is trying to take some chances here, with more atmospheric play and some rollicking bass work. It’s not totally foreign or anything, but it feels like they’re trying to branch out a bit.

“Blood Eagle” is one of the more savage cuts on here and has a sound that’s more reminiscent of the band’s earlier days. It opens with a gory assault of some poor bastard being ripped apart, before guitars stampede you and the revenge tale lowers its dark curtains. “We Shall Destroy” goes back to thrashy, deathly familiar ground, and it’s a pretty spirited bit. “Hel” is the most impressive, surprising, and thrilling track on here, one of their most unique songs in some time and one that features a mammoth special appearance in the form of Messiah Marcolin, the legendary former singer of Candlemass. His dramatic vocals add a dark, shadowy presence to this song and should creep you the fuck out. His high-pitched wails work perfectly with Hegg’s beastly growls, and this song puts an eerie stamp on this damnation tale. “Coming of the Tide” goes back to explosive melody and aims to get your adrenaline going again before epic closer “Warriors of the North,” an eight-minute war song that is awash in wintry battle and reaching “Valhalla’s mighty gates.” It’s everything this band does well smashed into an extra-sized helping, and it’s a great way to cap off this quaking album.

If you’re a longtime Amon Amarth fan, you won’t be disappointed in the slightest. The band’s staying true to you, and even when they throw in something different, it’s more to enhance their sound and ignite fresh explosions. There’s nothing wrong with these guys treading familiar waters because they do it so damn well and they never come up with anything boring. They’re a barrel of fun, and this record should be a barnburner well into the summer, when our flesh is getting tanned and we’re sampling the finest ales the world has to offer. Cheers!

For more on the band, go here: http://amonamarth.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/amonamarth/order.php

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com

Full of Hell’s tumultuous hardcore hits new highs on ‘Rudiments of Mutilation’

full of hell
I do more writing other than what you see on these pages, and recently I was assigned an album by a newish hardcore-style band on a pretty sizable indie label that probably is going to sell really well. I could not be more confused about why or who their audience is or what people get out of their brand of … I guess it’s hardcore. I am not their audience, and anyone looking to their music for something to spark their heart surely isn’t going to get the jolt they need.

Luckily that criticism doesn’t stretch across the board for all newer bands in the hardcore realms, as Full of Hell prove mightily on their latest effort “Rudiments of Mutilation,” brought to you by the fine folks of always reliable A389. In fact, if you’re still breathing steadily and don’t feel like you got a workout after tackling their 10-track, 17-minute new album, e-mail us and we’ll get you the name of that other band. And probably a really smarmy sympathy card for doing this all wrong. These noisy, death-inspired hardcore blasts to the face are just what you need if you’re in a horrible mood and want catharsis (and funny enough, I am writing this as my Penguins battle the Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals … UPDATE: They fucking lost) or just need something to light a fire under you so you can go on and get your work done.

12 Jacket (5mm Spine) [GD30OBH5]Another thing I really love about this record is its brevity. It’s not for a lack of ideas at all. Rather, it seems the fellows purposely tried to keep the record slim, trim, and devastating, offering you no filler material at all and doing their best to make best use of the shorter space to hit you harder and faster. We live in a world of bloated, over-stuffed albums short on inspiration, so when you get a fucking beast like this record, that’s over in under 20 minutes, you know you’ve been served a better quality of mayhem than you would have if they tried to push this thing to 50 minutes. Also, their live shows should be even more violent because of these songs, and that’s a promising thing for anyone who wants to throw themselves head-first into the pit and get massacred. These guys will bring it.

“Dichotomy” is a noisy, tortured opening that spreads the chaos, with horrific wails and dissonant damage that’s almost like an introduction to the madness. Then it’s into “Vessel Deserted” that is packed with total fury and fiery violence, rolling along threateningly before it slips into sludgy doom. Then it explodes again and races to its finish. “Coven of the Larynx” certainly is a bizarrely titled song that is wholly confrontational and punchy, and that leads to “Indigence and Guilt,” a heaping mountain of hardcore doom that’s mixed with thrash and destructive shouting.

“Embrace” is a pretty weird cut that is also the eeriest, with feedback whine, noise squalls, and bellowing vocals that come off as deranged and haunting. The warbling, mentally deranged song is at its bloodiest with the shouts of, “Fucked to death in the street!” “The Lord Is My Light” is screeching and dangerous and does as much damage as it can in its 19 whole seconds of life. “Bone Coral and Brine” blows up and spits right in your face, challenging you to get in front of it and stop it. The title track is a speedy, gurgly burst of energy that lasts a mere 21 seconds and tries to break as many bones as it can during its span. Closer “Contempt of Life” simmers in noise and electric swelling, screams float above the raging storm, muddy doom moves, and the cut ends with fractured whispering and molten punishment. It’s one hell of an end to a tumultuous experience.

So all Full of Hell needed were 17 minutes to do this much damage and make an impact this severe. I’m certain there are people disconnected to a lot of hardcore out there and even some of the current death metal crop because they don’t feel like these bands mean an ounce of that, but Full of Hell are not that way. They are maddeningly heavy, violently passionate, and as effective as any band in their genre, and the road is just beginning for this band. That should thrill and frighten you.

For more on the band, go here: http://fullofhell.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.a389records.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.a389records.com/site/

Adventurous Austrian duo Summoning back with woodsy ‘Old Mornings Dawn’

summoningIt’s getting pretty warm here in the States, and for me, the time to go on long sojourns in the woods is making its way back around again. Luckily where I live, we’re blessed with a pretty nice parks system, so heading off on the trails for a few hours can be a fun adventure, but you’ll always find your way back again. That temporary escape is always nice.

Along with that, it’s nice to have music that can accompany and soundtrack the trip if I’m by myself (which, admittedly, I rarely am) or that helps me get into the same headspace if I’m in the car, at work, or wherever. I’ve always found that vibe when listening to long-running Austrian band Summoning and their rich, folk-led, atmospheric dark and black metal. Their music is full of adventure and imagination to begin with when considering their Tolkien-inspired lyrics and their forays into the Dark Ages, and they do their thing so lushly, it’s impossible not to get caught up and whisked away to the forest, where who knows what awaits you.

summoning coverFor those of us who have followed Summoning’s musical path since their birth two decades ago and their 1995 debut “Lugburz,” we’ve been waiting a long while for new music. The band hasn’t given us a new full-length in seven long years, the last coming with 2006’s excellent “Oath Bound,” and in the meantime, I think we all were kind of wondering what was taking so long. Then again, their craft comes to them naturally, so they couldn’t exactly move if they weren’t inspired. So despite the long stretch of time between their last record and newly arriving “Old Mornings Dawn,” they clearly were tapping into something that moved them. Perhaps old videogames like “Zelda” or “Rygar” even came to mind, as much of the glorious synth on this seventh album sounds like what you might hear if you were controlling the hero from one of those franchises and trying to save the day. It’s a total rush, one that’ll make you feel like holding aloft a goblet of victory and war sword when it’s over.

The two who create all of this are the same who have been at the helm of every Summoning album since 1995’s “Minas Morgul,” the band’s second album. Protector handles vocals, guitars, keyboards, and programming, while Silenius takes care of vocals, keyboards, and bass. Both are members of other bands such as Die Verbannten, Ice Ages, Cromm, and Amestigon, but they do their best work with Summoning, a project that always finds new ways to capture the mind and body and give you something to help you rise above the daily doldrums.

After the shining gold intro that is “Evernight,” it’s right into “Flammifer,” built on tons of percussion, even more keyboards, a feel that the song is a hymn pulled from the Middle Ages, and melodies that will sweep you up and carry you into battle with them. The chorus is understated but very emotional, and I’ve noticed I can’t get that sequence out of my head. The title track sounds like the spirited music that would greet you upon completing a new level on an adventure videogame, as screamy vocals erupt, horns blow, and victory seems to burst from every corner. As the song surges and reaches its conclusion, a king-like monologue erupts, almost as if it’s reading the state of the land. So ridiculous and so awesome. “The White Tower” opens with steely guitar lines and huge woodwinds, and later strange chants and colorful melodies meet head on with black savagery. This sounds like a song written for a sun-splashed field during a summer festival.

“Caradhras” opens with big strings, drama-filled synth (no, really, synth?), and an abrasive guitar line that meets up with woodsy choruses and more mangled fun that goes on for nearly 10 minutes that don’t feel nearly that long. “Old Pale White Morns and Darkened Eves” has tribal-style drumming and throat-mangling screams, wild howling, and magnificent compositions that soar along with the bird constantly screeching during the song. “The Wandering Fire” sounds like the guys are trying to channel elder spirits and ancestral knowledge, with mallet-style drumming and high drama with music sounding like it’s trying to spark a fire that’ll light the entire forest. Closer “Earthshine” is the only track I’m not totally in love with, mostly because of the metalcore-style growl-singing that doesn’t sound that great. Musically, it’s just fine, as the guys meld black metal and atmospheric prog into a really weird stew.

It goes without saying I’m really excited to have Summoning back making music, and it also makes me want to find an old Nintendo and fire the bastard up for some drunken land-sacking. If we have to wait seven years for something this good, then that’s fine with me. But I’m not getting any younger and would love a few more Summoning masterpieces before I die in 350 years.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.summoning.info/

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.napalmrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords?fref=ts

Thrash is NOT dead: Noisem, Power Trip devastate you on crushing debut records

Noisem (Photo by Josh Sisk)

Noisem (Photo by Josh Sisk)

I grew up in the arms of thrash metal. I was formed by bands such as Testament, Overkill, and Nuclear Assault, and they are the ones I hold dear to this day. Those are the bands I look back on and try to imagine my formative years without. They were the gateway to extreme metal to me, and thrash is a genre I hold very protectively against my heart.

You might notice if you regularly visit this site that we don’t do a hell of a lot on the current crop of thrash bands. The reason is that I find so very few worth talking about. That’s just me and my feelings toward modern thrash. So many of these younger thrash bands didn’t live through that era, so they didn’t get why it worked and why it swept up people like me. Glam metal was in complete excess but punk roots remained raw with thrash bands, the 1980s were all about me me me, and at any moment you thought there could be nuclear fucking war. I don’t hold that against younger bands for not being alive at the time. Wasn’t their fault. But it’s hard to capture the true essence of thrash when you didn’t live through that time. Except that some still manage to do so.

That’s not to suggest that all young thrash bands aren’t worth your time, because that just isn’t true. Look at Municipal Waste’s first few records or even someone like sci-fi weirdos Vektor. They’re tight and seem to get it. But there are two new bands just coming into their own that also seem to have a grasp for what makes this style work. Noisem, who kicked off the festivities at this year’s Maryland Deathfest, and Power Trip, who provide all the proof you need that Southern Lord still care about metal, should make your heart burst with life if you, like me, are an old thrash crusty. Both bands’ debut records are great thrash revelations, and I love the shit out of both albums.

Funny enough, one of the bands’ members are young enough to have missed out on most of the latest wave of thrash revivalists, but you’d think they’ve been alive for decades the way they play. The other band sounds commanding and punishing in ways I wish all young bands in all genres would emulate. One band is the impressive, obviously hungry Noisem, who destroyed the masses with their ridiculous stage garb and smashing riffs, and whose members range in age from 15-20. Not a typo. Go read it again. The other is Power Trip, whose debut full-length is yours via Southern Lord and who have enough attitude and power to mash every other thrash revivalist to a pulp.

noisem cover

As noted above, the Noisem kids are young, but they’re nasty and hungry. The band started off as Necropsy and originally recorded a version of “Endless Aggression,” but A389 wisely picked them up, the guys changed their moniker, re-recorded the songs, and it’s full speed ahead at their new home. Tyler Carnes is the fellow shouting at you and spinning grisly yarns of death and gore, and he’s backed by guitarists Travis Stone and Sebastian Phillips, bassist Yago Ventura, and drummer Harley Phillips. These guys are raw still, which suits them fine, and have room to grow, but their debut is a strong statement that they’re here to help give this thrash revival a proper shot in the ass.

They rip the lid off this 26-minute album with “Voices in the Morgue,” a death-filled, horror-based basher that gets things off on the right foot, with killer riffs and confrontational vocals. The menace continues with “Birthing the Bestial,” a speedy, punchy song that ramps up the aggression and takes you into “Desire and Disgust,” a 1:19-long beating that is furious and vicious. “Mortuary” is their best shot at classic death mixed with thrash, as the band launches into a bloody groove, and the howled chorus of, “Welcome to the mortuary,” could even get metallic greyhairs feeling nostalgic. “Rotten Remains” is both intricate and gruff, letting them show off their talent while they slay you. “Severed” is a total blitzkrieg of destruction, while “Split From the Inside Out” is a really catchy cut that reminds me of the early years of Anthrax. “Chronic Dementia” has guitar lines that seem to retread past territory, though it’s still powerful enough to hold its own, while the closing title track gets one final death blow into the picture, with awesome thrash runs, pulverizing drums, and total madness.

Noisem’s power cannot be denied, and this band obviously has a huge future ahead of themselves. They made a smart move by doing a shorter record, lasting under half an hour, because it shows what they can do but leaves you wanting more. Definitely pay attention to this band, because their fury is just getting started amassing a body count.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/NoisemBaltimore

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.a389records.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.a389records.com/

Power Trip

Power Trip

Power Trip have been at it since 2008, and along the way they’ve built a nice following and a solid collection of EPs to get people hungry for what they could do on a full-length. Their brand of thrash mixes in old hardcore and punk, as well as death, and their delivery is full speed ahead, pummeling you about the head and torso with their maniacal wares. The band is comprised of vocalist Riley Gale, guitarists Blake Ibanez and Nick Stewart, bassist Chris Whetzel, and drummer Chris Ulsh. Southern Lord is putting out the band’s debut, which makes a lot of sense, and this is the best signing along with Agrimonia they’ve had in a long time. Well, at least when it comes to the metal realms.

power trip coverTheir debut long-player opens kind of weirdly, with the title track sitting in simmering noise and weird sound effects before they hit their groove and blast you in the mouth. “Heretic’s Fork” is fast and mangling, with great soloing, a mashy pace, and raspy shouts that stick to your side like a scab. “Conditioned to Death” is flat-out awesome and the highlight of this record, with really tasty thrash pockets that follow each chorus that’ll make you want to punch a cement block. “Murderer’s Row” sounds like what you’d expect from the title, with speedy vocals and huge gang shouts. “Crossbreaker” is the other killer on this record and could be the one that ends up being a live staple, not only for its penchant for violence but for its shout-backable lyrics. “Drown” begins with some sludgy mashing and a bowed head or two toward doom, but eventually it all blows back up again. The song “Power Trip” seems like a fitting band anthem, one that should spark some defiance in their crowd live, while closer “The Hammer of Doubt” opens with a line from the movie “Blood Simple” before they unleash more carnage and chugging explosions that leave you exhausted and bruised.

Power Trip’s a band that’s certainly in the right place on Southern Lord, alongside labelmates like Black Breath and The Secret, and they could be the label’s breakout band of the year. “Manifest Decimation” is one hell of an effective, hammering debut, and it proves once and for all to all who whine about Southern Lord’s hardcore-based signings that they still can find great fucking metal bands.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/powertripTX

To buy the album, go here: http://southernlord.com/store.php

For more on the label, go here: http://southernlord.com/

Deafheaven’s modern classic ‘Sunbather’ has tumultuous, heart-wrecking emotion

deafheavenOne of the great parts about doing a blog or webzine like this is that you get to hear a lot of records, some of them good, some of them bad, some of them somewhere in the middle. But each year, you have a handful or so opportunities to hear something really special, a record that’ll stick with you well into December and probably even further than that.

There also are those rare moments when you get a record that is life-changing, that makes you re-evaluate every other record and band you’ve heard so far during a calendar year. A record so special you feel bad for everything else that came out because, as good as those albums have been, they can’t hold a candle to this. A record that will go into the annals as one of your all-time favorite recordings, one that you’ll remember where you were the first time you heard it. We have that right now with “Sunbather,” the second full-length effort from Deafheaven, the brilliant San Francisco-based band that has captured hearts and imaginations everywhere ever since their incredible demo dropped a few years ago.

Look, you’re bound to hear a lot of people go insane giving this record praise the next few weeks, and that might make you skeptical and even want to reject it based on all that love. Don’t do that. Remember, sometimes a great record gets praise because it is just that, and incredible piece of work, and “Sunbather” is a document that the extreme music landscape is not likely to match this year, and it might even be one the band has a tough time equaling. But who cares? This is their signature release, their immortal moment, the album they were born to make. And is it ever incredible.

desfheaven albumYes, the band still specializes in banshee-style black metal that will wreck your soul, but they also have bits of Explosions in the Sky/MONO-style drama, Smiths-esque darkness and depression, and a musical presentation that would do incredible on major stages but probably hits home a little better inside a small, intimate venue, where these guys can reach out and ruin you personally. The band is George Clarke, whose gargantuan wails and screams sound like they are the product of a lifetime of tumult and striving for greater understanding, Kerry McCoy, his long-standing creative partner in this band, who gives Deafheaven their gigantic sound, and Daniel Tracy, who hammers the majestic shit out of his drumkit on this record. These songs are astonishing pieces of art that yearn to be heard and understood, and for those of us who relate, it’s quite a catharsis. It’s like nothing you will have heard before.

There is no bringing you into this record easily, as “Dream House” bursts from the seams with colorful yet violent riffing, drumming that sounds like it’s channeling an earthquake, and emotionally gushing shrieking from Clarke that’ll grab you and never let go. I saw some criticism about the vocals in a few places because there’s so much screaming. There should be screaming. Listen to this display! There are demons being excised forcefully, life and anguish Clarke is putting into his every jagged word. This is real bloodletting, and it needs to sound genuine. He cannot get more real if he tried. That flows into instrumental interlude “Irresistible,” that sounds like it’s built off slowed-down Johnny Marr melodies. You feel every drip of this piece, and it’s a gorgeous stage-setter for the charred title cut, where Clarke sees gigantic houses, rich neighborhoods, and a lonely sunbather whose life he tries to imagine. It’s creepy, violent, and unsettling, and it’s one fuck of a stunning song. The following instrumental “Please Remember” has an old art film-style reading by Stephane Paut, a relentless motor that grinds until you can’t take anymore, and then a flowing ocean of sound in which you’ll get lost.

“Vertigo” kicks off record two, and I do recommend you get this on vinyl for its incredible packaging and spacious sound. It’s the way to go. You don’t feel dizzy and nauseous despite the title, and instead you might feel like you’re floating through space on some sort of adventure. The first few minutes are like film score music designed to make your heart flutter and skip a few beats, and the whole things builds beautifully before it bursts open into a blue and black inferno, with the melodies grabbing your soul and pulling you headlong into its cosmic trip. Clarke’s shrieks are both human and alien, while the damaged music that sounds like it’s played on a reel stretched a little too far, folds into soloing that should make every Bay Area thrash legend jealous. Such a powerful piece, and that bleeds into instrumental “Windows,” a barrier, and a strong one, before it feeds you one of the most devastating, heart-melting father-son tales you’ll ever hear in “The Pecan Tree.” In this crushing closer, you can feel the insurmountable distance between parent and offspring, the horrible disappointment and disillusionment with a familiar institution that did not play out the way people tell us it should. Even if you haven’t been through this pain—I haven’t at all, but I have seen others endure this—you’ll crumble under the weight of Clarke’s words when he howls, “I am my father’s son/I am no one/I cannot love/It’s in my blood.” Full collapse. Right then and there.

“Sunbather” cannot be over-hyped and over-praised. It’s a landmark recording. It’s a masterpiece for Deafheaven, whose relatively small output thus far already has been incredibly powerful. I can’t get this record out of my system. I can’t get a cure to rid it from my bloodstream. It’s there and it’ll remain there, and I cannot praise Deafheaven enough for making a record like this that’ll stick with me through the ages. I have never been afraid of my emotions, and I am so thankful I have found a band and record that feel the same way. What a caterwaul of human emotion.

For more on the band, go here: http://deafheaven.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.deathwishinc.com/estore/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.deathwishinc.com/