Final Rating: 8.6 / 10
Surrender to darkness. This is the album where Deafheaven don’t run away from misery, but they rather find a home within it instead. The idea of a new Bermuda is one that finds solace outside of normalcy. To be hurt for so long means that one has to find comfort within their anguish. On Sunbather, Deafheaven observed their differences from others and how they struggled oh so greatly. George Clarke begged to be able to dream. On New Bermuda, he commands us to follow him into hell. He’s accepted his fate and he promises that we won’t be alone.
New Bermuda is less disorienting than the shoegaze heavy Sunbather. It is much more direct. It has metal chugging that propels the train down a direct track. An example is Luna, where a steady path is paved and you know where you are while you travel at high speeds. Take a song like Vertigo instead, where you meandered well past the point of reference. On New Bermuda, you’ll find yourself identifying with the immediacy more than Sunbather.
While it is more direct, New Bermuda is also a lot more experimental. Brought to the Water takes a breather midway to await the latter parts of the song, and it sets up the mood through post rock layering. Bay Blue starts off almost like a Modest Mouse song with the guitar work feeling determined to tell a quirky story through its coasting. Nothing is quite as startling as the final track Gifts for the Earth, though. Deafheaven wait until the last second to leap outside of metal further than they ever have. The structure is The Smiths in nature, while the guitar tones are more Robert Smith. Either way, two of the biggest exports of depression in the 80’s get channeled here, and it is one hell of a catchy ending.
Clarke’s vocals are fiercer than ever. To match the want to move forward that this album has, his vocals are more about commanding than they are about pain. With a full band on this album, there does sound like there are more ideas and passions tossed into this dark bag of obsidian. Everything is tightly knit, and you’ll be pressed to find a metal band as adamant on making complete albums quite the way Deafheaven does. Most metal bands follow concepts or auras. Deafheaven follows mental landscapes.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare this album entirely to Sunbather. Sunbather is a rare album that transcended its own genre. It is a blip of human suffering that got captured and shared universally. The smartest thing Deafheaven could have done is not try snd replicate that album, and that’s exactly what they did. New Bermuda is signature Deafheaven, but it avoids being Sunbather in any way. New Bermuda may not be as relatable, but it is bold. It is an album made with much more confidence and standing. It progresses the band’s catalogue without any trace of a hiccup. It’s tough to call an album that stomps on it’s own genre solid, but New Bermuda is just that. Deafheaven have done it again!