Deafheaven – New Bermuda (2xLP)
California-based metal group Deafheaven's 2013 breakthrough album Sunbather was triumphant and uplifting, even as it dealt with harsh personal issues such as insecurity and alienation. That album's heavily anticipated follow-up, New Bermuda, offers a much bleaker perspective, beginning with the abandonment of joy, expressing feelings of not being able to escape, and ending by envisioning death. Musically, the group sharpens its attack, adding more traditionally metal-sounding elements (most notably the chugging riffs and wah-wah soloing during the middle of "Baby Blue") to its shoegaze-influenced black metal sound.
Vocalist George Clarke sounds more ferocious and demonic than on previous outings, snarling with a previously unmatched intensity. The album is less overtly experimental than its predecessor, lacking its ambient interludes and spoken word passages (other than a minute-long Godspeed You! Black Emperor-like drone collage), but the group remains adept at incorporating influences from non-metal genres, gracefully switching between moods and dynamic levels throughout the lengthy, suite-like compositions.