Catching up Midway 2013, Part 2

I’ll just do a quick double review of two more things I found on best of lists. Since these two things have been extensively reviewed all over the place, I’ll just leave the detailed reviews to other sources. These bands have gotten near universal praise, so I expect to see them on many year end lists as well, but probably not mine …

The first is Deafheaven’s Sunbather. I intentionally avoided this one, because when I saw it reviewed I didn’t read the reviews. I just looked at the title which involved the word “sun” from a California band and the cover is bright pink. I honestly assumed this was some pop album from a bunch of hippies. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Unlike the past many, many albums I liked which were “growers” (I didn’t like them at first and through time I grew to understand the complexities and start to really love what was happening), this album instantly connected with me. Wow. I don’t remember the last time I had an emotional response on the first listen. Some people are calling this post-black metal, but I wouldn’t go that far. I’d call it heavy shoegaze. Remember that term? Yeah.

I think the emotional response mostly comes from an appeal to a certain demographic. This album will give anyone that grew up with Godspeed You Black Emperor and My Bloody Valentine a nostalgia for the past. It consists of building climaxes out of noisy, distorted layerings. I might even throw in Sigur Ros as an influence in this regard. I’m not sure how a younger generation would react to this. If you’re not already familiar with the musical language it is using, it might take a few more listens.

I was in bliss the first several times I listened to this letting the sound just wash over me. Honestly, it isn’t really that “deep” or “complex,” so I’ve already surpassed the point of really liking it. This is the opposite of a grower for me. Now that the original emotional appeal has worn off, I’m not sure how much replay value this has. Although, I must say that the end of “Please Remember” is probably the saddest thing I’ve heard all year. I’ll come back to that. It hurts so good. That sliding, whiny guitar sound. I want more of that.

Here’s a sample:

The other album is Mouth of the Architect’s Dawning. I’m not really sure how to classify this one. Metalsucks came up with something like progressive post sludge. There’s definitely some really great heavy sludginess going on here. I don’t hear the experimentation so much as “post” whatever, but more as just that. Experimentation. I’d maybe say it is avant-sludge?

This album is really good. When it gets cooking, it really heats up into some chaotic greatness. It’s rare, but I love the vocals. The simultaneous growling/screaming/clean singing is a great effect that really works for what they’re doing. There’s some cool, bizarre melodic material which is a nice change of pace from the other stuff I’ve been listening to that treats melodic lines as non-existent or something that must exist but shouldn’t be dwelled upon.

So like I said, when this album is doing something interesting I love it. It’s great. But there’s lots I’m not too excited about as well, so overall I can’t say it is great. There’s some brief moments of zone out in the first half, but for the most part the first half is really solid. As the album progresses from the middle to the end, I start to lose interest a lot more frequently.

Sludge in general is such a hit or miss genre for me. It is also hard to describe which versions of it interest me and which I find dull. This album definitely has material that will allow me to point to in the future and tell people, “That. That’s what I want my sludge to sound like.” Anyway, the slow bits may still grow on me, so I definitely recommend this one if it sounded interesting from my terrible description.

Here’s a sample:


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