Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

I’ll get right to it- I still think Deafheaven’s Sunbather is a landmark album, black metal or other wise and consider its standout tracks “The Pecan Tree”, “Dreamhouse” and “Sunbather” absolute gems that I still play regularly. However, I wasn’t nearly as enamored with the follow up, New Bermuda as the band tried to be grittier and thrasher with mixed results.

Well, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love sorta swings completely in the opposite direction and continues the band’s experimentation and flirtation with The Smiths/The Cure like moods mixed with the warmer, blackgaze tropes that has made the band so divisive, and this album will certainly amply that sentiment among fans.

As if to really weed out the naysayers and see who really wants to commit to this sound, opener “You Without End” a real shit show with female spoken word about Oakland ( performed by Nadia Kury, taken from excerpts of the story “black and borax” by Tom McElravey), delicate pianos and pop darkwave riffs and keys colliding awkwardly with the shrill black metal vocals. But then its as if the band say “OK, everyone who hates us has left? “, then purposely deliver “Honeycomb”,  which renders the most Sunbather-like uplifting, glittering black melody on the album. The peak about 2 minutes in just pure Deafheaven at their shimmering, rending best.

The rest of the album shifts between the two elements of the opening duo, with lots of moody, mopey darkwave/pop ish metal and bursts of glimmering harmonies that make the band so perfect at times yet so frustrating at others. “Canary Yellow”, the album’s longest track (12 minutes) takes a while to get going with mid paced warbling and shrieks, but about halfway in we get more classic Deafheaven heart bursting, melodic black metal that makes the 2nd half of the track well worth the wait, even with the 80s pops clean vocals that surface.

“Near” brings things to a screeching halt with a essentially a 5 minute whiny ballad that just didn’t need to be recorded or put on the album, but its followed by “Glint”, the album’s second longest cut and again delivers what Deafheaven to best, a moody emotive shoegaze build crescendo-ing with near perfect balance of rending and soaring harmonies that smear with the dichotomous sonic metaphor of tear stained corpsepaint .

Penultimate track “Night People” is likely to get the most attention from haters and fans alike. Featuring Chelsea Wolfe, it’s essentially a 4 minute synthwave duet/ballad lacking the dark sensual throb of Wolfe’s solo work. I’d like to say 10 minute closer “Worthless Animal” cleanses the palette with another of the album’s standouts, but it keeps teasing a classic Deafheaven peak that never comes, leaving a really unfulfilled feeling to end the album , which kind sums up the entire release really.

But overall, the few stellar moments make Ordinary Corrupt Human Love a better overall album that New Bermuda, but still a confusing album that like Sunbather has 3 tracks that you can go straight to, and ignore all the other literal fluff. The frustrating thing is when Deafheaven are ‘on’ and knuckle down with a trademark, knee wilting  black metal burst, its something to behold, bu there is so much other interference and experimentation, it loses its impact and makes the entire affair less enjoyable.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 6th, 2018


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I really like this album a lot. Now I’m an enthusiastic fan of the Cure and shoegaze stuff and Chelsea Wolfe, but even the black metal stuff on here is really something special. Got me listening to Envy again, too.

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