You could argue Deafheaven are deliberately releasing an album for each season: spring 2011’s Roads to Judah, summer 2013’s Sunbather, and now autumn 2015’s New Bermuda. And where Sunbather’s music felt like a sonic expression of the long, indistinguishable days of summer, New Bermuda feels like it contains more of a transformation, a decline in the approach to winter. That’s not to say the band isn’t working with the same raw materials as ever here – the loud-quiet dynamics typical of any post-rock/black metal crossover album – but they’re arranging them in a newly evocative way.
Take ‘Brought to the Water’, for example; an ambient intro (complete with church bells) bursts into full black metal fury with more energy than they’ve ever given before. This then transitions to a majestic guitar solo, which leads into a softer acoustic section that could be excerpted from any Explosions in the Sky album. Finally, a climactic heavy passage retaining the theme from the quiet mid-section fades out into a little piano coda. Deafheaven seem keen to cover the whole emotional range in similar fashion on each of the five tracks. ‘Baby Blue’ moves from long post-rock intro, through soaring classic rock guitar solo, into Pallbearer-esque doom metal dirge. ‘Come Back’ ends on an extended tranquil section that represents the best non-metal music they’ve ever made.
What’s apparent throughout is the sheer level of care that’s gone into this album. Deafheaven are not interested in minimalism, or lo-fi, or any of the things black metal enthusiasts find lacking in their work. With the stylistic variance of this album, it’s doubtful they want to be considered a black metal band at all. Instead they’ve crafted a supremely polished gem for rock and metal fans of all stripes.