The biggest barrier I had to enjoying Sunbather by Deafheaven was the screaming. I have never understood the appeal of shouting lyrics into a microphone in an indistinguishable blast of strained vocal chords. I find myself trying to blot out the vocals in order to concentrate on what’s going on underneath, and the words become nothing more than a distraction from the ‘real’ music. I am sure heavy metal fans would see this very differently, but it is definitely not the genre for me and Sunbather was no exception.
Luckily, in between the hoarse wailing, Deafheaven have included some tracks on Sunbather that are really not what I expect to hear on a metal album. Second track Irresistible is a rather lovely laid back guitar and piano instrumental that would be more at home on a chill-out record, and Please Remember‘s abstract static and slower pace provides a welcome break from the screams. Some tracks even switch half way through. The Pecan Tree starts off with rolling drums and frantic guitar, but the whole middle section is a pensive slow-build before the unappealing wall of sound returns to close the record.
This is an album with a split personality. Half aural assault and half intriguing instrumentals. If you skip half of the tracks you might quite like it!