#27. Deafheaven: New Bermuda
As clichéd as it might be, in the case of Deafheaven’s sophomore release, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Rarely does cover art so wholly capture the sound of an album as with New Bermuda. This is a black album both in color and in tone (and in genre, as the most apt categorization for its genre-defying sound is black metal). And yet, nestled within the deep expanses of screamed vocals and shredded guitars, there lie colorful instrumental canvases a la Explosions In The Sky, which stand in stark contrast to the anguished distortion of the rest of the album.
Even the ambiguity of the face on the cover mirrors George Clarke’s tormented singing. The vocals are the most prominent ingredient in the music, but they are not in sharp focus, and the lyrics are often unintelligible. Which is not necessarily a bad thing—the lyrics of New Bermuda are crushingly depressing.
The album opens with “Brought to the Water,” which finds Clarke wailing “a multiverse of fuchsia and violet surrenders to blackness now / my world closes its eyes to sex and laughter.” Throughout the course of the album, he plummets deeper into depression as he confines himself to the hellfire of his home inside the furnace of suburbia on “Luna.” Finally, when his desperation has reached his peak, he finds the release of death on the closer “Gifts for the Earth.” He imagines death cradling him like a mother with Munchausen Syndrome by proxy as she pushes him deep beneath the ocean. In the bleak final lines of New Bermuda, Clarke imagines the end, “cocooned by the heat of the ocean floor / in the dark, my flesh to disintegrate into consumption for the earth.”
The hopelessness of the lyrics shouldn’t be a deterrent from listening to the album, however. Aside from the fact that the words are hardly discernable through his screams, Clarke’s vocals are more of an accompaniment to the instrumental music. On Deafheaven’s debut Sunbather, they created gorgeous soundscapes unlike anything done before. With New Bermuda, they expand their sonic realm even further with more intricate musicianship and an even greater respect for sustained acoustic passages. They are constantly peeling back the presumed boundaries of black metal, and each time they do it they reveal something beautiful .