Guess what the highest overall Metacritc scored album from this year is? Because its not Yeezus or Acid Rap or even Vampire Weekends new album. Its not even from a well listened to genre. Deafheaven’s Sunbather received a 92 on Metacritic, meaning that basically did it not only get favorable reviews on most sites, it got close to perfect reviews. All of that for a black metal album, with earsplitting screams heavy, loud guitar and a sound that can honestly be a little uncomfortable to listen to at times.
Then, as the album plays through and the screaming stops for a time, a harmonious, striking guitar melody starts playing about half way through “Irresistible” and it all starts to make sense. Yes this is a black metal album, but it is also about the most stunningly beautiful sounding black metal album from this year and really in a long time. For every backbreaking guitar riff and every high pitched throttling scream, there is a point in the album where all of that washes away into simple beauty of a guitar being plucked or a cymbal being gently massaged.
The harsh parts even have some inner beauty to them as well, the guitar is just loud, not to distorted or obliterating. The screams are rough, but they are not as guttural as normal or as aggressive as they could be. And the drums, could be more thunderous, more chaotic but they are not. Really if there was ever a time to get the mass populace into black metal, this album would be the one to do it. There is just enough simplicity in the album to lure in people to begin to appreciate what black metal truly is and enough actual black metal that they begin to learn what it is all about.
I personally never realized how well this album would be received because I listen to just enough metal that this really didn’t seem to out of the ordinary. When it started appearing on every single end of the year list though I started to realize what Deafheaven had done. They had taken a hold of the stereotypes against metal and utterly decimated them, and created an album that more than just metal heads appreciate.