This is the forty-eighth of the “50 Albums to Christmas 2019” series.
For better or for worse, both the music industry and music fans in general have long memories and established prejudices across genre lines. “If it is this genre, here is what the music should sound like!” comes a cry pointing probably to an album that defined the genre ironically by breaking the walls of a differnet genre down to establish its own or tweaking the formula to its utopiod state. To their credit, when that sort of thing happens, that new genre tends to be celebrated and just as quickly ringfenced by its newest latest rabid cognoscenti who were decrying it the previous month. To their detriment, innovations within a genre are either embraced or shunned and the innovator remembered for better or for worse forever. A label around their neck or a crown around their head.
When Boston-based Deafheaven released their Sunbather in 2013, they got almost as much press for the fact they tried to do something different as for the fact it was actually really very good. A crown around their head despite the heresy of introducing music in a major key to the blackened progressive metal they created previously on their Roads to Judah album two years previously. Cue the release of New Bermuda in 2015 and with it the questions on how and if they would continue to innovate. Indeed they did, continuing to experiment with the set formula of the genre, to the point of creating their own hybrid with the post metal of ISIS and Russian Circles which is almost entirely accessible to anyone who cares to listen to something other than trite chart nonsense. Its roots are still evident but now there are delicious solos and intermissions building on what they had with Sunbather.
New Bermuda is a triumph and was my favourite album of 2015. Listen if you have ears, for they will not offend you.