The darlings of the blogosphere in the two years since their formation, Deafheaven have a sound which fuses several different genres and influences, including elements of black metal, shoegaze, and post-punk/post-rock into something uniquely their own. The duo of vocalist George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy make up the core of Deafheaven with McCoy acting as the primary songwriter and Clarke the primary lyricist. A revolving cast of supporting musicians has filled out the band to a quintet since the release of their demo. Roads to Judah marks the band’s first full-length release on label Deathwish after a 7” single on the label. With four tracks clocking in at just under forty minutes, Roads to Judah is an atmospheric, ephemeral, experience. The opening track “Violet,” begins with a bit of an ambient soundscape, with clips in the background before guitars come in, followed by the rest of the band. The intensity builds note by note, layer upon layer, and riff upon riff, before crashing over the listener in waves of sound. There’s a movie soundtrack feeling evoked by the progression. Breaks between each track are brief, as though allowing the listener time to catch their breath before submerging them once more in an ocean of sonic waves. After the roaring climax of the second track, “Language Games,” there’s a particularly noticeable break before the third track “Unrequited.” This track opens with a slow melodic intro, before steadily ratcheting the intensity back up. “Unrequited” and the closing track, “Tunnel of Trees,” were my favorite tracks on this record. “Tunnel of Trees” features some of the most interesting riffs and the most dynamic overall sound of the entire album. It’s the track I will likely point new listeners to when I tell them to check out Deafheaven in the future. While I was a bit late coming to Deafheaven, partly out of a desire to avoid “hype” bands, I wish I had checked these guys out earlier. Every ounce of attention given to this band is justified, and Roads to Judah has made me a believer.
–Paul J. Comeau (Deathwish Inc.)