Reviews Deafheaven Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Deafheaven

Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

When I first heard that Deafheaven had released a new record, I was skeptical. The thing is, I’m not entirely sure why because the band has more than proven themselves with their past records Sunbather and New Bermuda. Both records killed, but with a band that has already explored the ins and outs of metal, I questioned how they could push themselves further than they already have. I wish more bands would surprise my skepticism and tell me to shove it, but not everyone releases a record like Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

The record starts off with “You Without End,” which is completely different than any other Deafheaven song I’ve ever heard, and I love that. Spoken word is dispersed neatly, elegantly even, throughout the song and it’s like a sigh of relief from the band. They don’t care if their music isn’t black metal enough for you. They aren’t going to appease fans out there who base their opinions on music by genres alone. I love the subtlety and exploration this first track sets for the rest of the record to follow. 

“Honeycomb” comes in with more of a punch, but even remains tame until two minutes into the track. There’s an impressive exchange between the buildup and drop of the song, the two constantly intertwined and playing off of one another. Then halfway through the song, classic rock riffs start flowing and building onto each other, a scream is let out, and we’re back into this metal/rock/experimental upside-down universe and it’s fucking magical. Not to mention the lyrics are caught in their own back and forth turmoil: 

“I’m reluctant to stay sad/Life beyond is a field of flowers”
“My love is a bulging, blue-faced fool/Hung from the throat by sunflower stems.”

The last two minutes of the song transcends into a Explosions in the Sky-esque sound, and almost unexpectedly, the song ends on a subdued note. 

The next track, “Canary Yellow,” starts off with orchestral notes luring you in like a spider’s web traps its prey, and then suddenly you’re intertwined in the center and there’s vocalist George Clarke growling over you. The guitar riffs halfway through cut the song in such a notable way you can’t help but feel the song’s progression. The buildup is undeniable—and it doesn’t disappoint. Nine minutes into the song an epic, alluring melody starts and is followed by Clarke’s blood-curdling screams sung over a repeating chorus, making this the catchiest Deafheaven song to date. “Canary Yellow” is everything I’ve ever wanted Deafheaven to be and more; it’s one of the most perfect songs I’ve ever heard. 

And here is where the band surprises me yet again with the light and dreamy song “Near,” which breaks-up the first half of the record and adds depth without needing to explore extreme dynamics like the previous tracks. On its own “Near” might not be a strong song, but in the context of the record, it makes total sense. Within the first few chords of “Glint” the mood has changed, the music is building itself up as the perfect stage for Clarke’s infamous screams. It took me a few listens to truly appreciate “Glint”—at first, the build-up felt too prolonged as if the band was trying to capture the momentum of the first half of the record. But if you really think about it, too much of a good thing can become stale and gimmicky. So I get it, Deafheaven wanted to build anticipation and not rush into an overly aggressive track that would almost cheapen the previous ones. To me, “Glint” says that Deafheaven isn’t here to be your novelty metal band.

The shortest song on the album is “Night People” and honestly, it’s the only song I’m inclined to skip on the record. I really wanted to like this song and I appreciate the collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe, but I thought the pair fell short together. However, let me say this—I really love Ordinary Corrupt Human Love and for “Night People” to be my least favorite track, it’s still a decent song in its own regard. Again, I don’t think Deafheaven is trying to conform to what listeners want or expect, and that’s exciting and I wish more bands were as brave. Although “Night People” has a more manufactured sound, it could also be seen as a risk. I’m just unsure how much it paid off and fail to see the value it’s adding to the overall record. 

That being said, “Worthless Animal” starts off with an enticing growl and I’m instantly drawn back into the record. Deafheaven has managed to beautifully combine elements of music that shouldn’t exist together—heavy rock guitars, soft piano chords, shrieking vocals—and then with the crash of a wave, it's all over. Few records leave me in awe, but Ordinary Corrupt Human Love can now be added to that very short list. I wouldn't sell Deafheaven so short on future releases and my skepticism is more than in check as this record has proved the band will keep pushing the boundaries of music. And sorry, but not sorry if you’re too obsessed with what a genre of music should sound like to enjoy this record. 

9.5 / 10Kristen Swanson
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