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Starting off with what sounds like a pop-punk band covering a Catherine Wheel song while a spastic ADD drummer hits his kit randomly, it's safe to say the rest of this album is a pretend metal sham, and it is. This part then goes into a fast strummed indie chords part for a "bittersweet" effect. This is pretty much the extent of the emotional expression contained in this album, aside from some "reflective" clean guitar pieces that accomplish the same thing sans the pretending to be a metal band part of it. The worst thing is Deafheaven fail to even do that. This whole things feels like the byproduct of focus groups coming up with a way to repackage Orchid's Gatefold album in a way that would appeal to Slowdive and Emperor fans at the same time through the "post-black" gimmick.
To start off, the lyrics are inappropriate for metal. They read like some whiny hot topic kids egocentric musings about how life has wronged him because of heartbreak and other mundane "high school" topics. I suppose they felt metal topics can be cliche and felt the need to drum up their indie "slam poets" card to show people how deep they are, but the whole thing comes across as something AFI would do than any metal band. These lyrics are appropriate enough, however, for the "emo" that they bury under black metal aesthetics to fool morons into believing that they are buying the next new thing. Bittersweet, mundane topics for a hoaky, whiny album. You can tell these whiners have made a bad album just by looking at them (indie haircuts and Aeropostale shirts in "black metal"...how IRONIC...). The whole thing reads off like some self-pitying, Kurt Cobain styled bored youth vapidity. Just moping and whining about first world problems.
The hippies have won. Everything that's wrong with modern "metal" can be found on this album. For starters, it's not even a metal album, having more in line with the screamo with more minor chords and blastbeats variant that is referred to as "emo-violence", like their clone targets Massachusetts band Orchid. The only thing that makes this "black metal" is a couple rare moments where a "blackened" part akin to something maybe Strid would have done makes an appearance to break up some of the monotony (even then, it feels like a generic DSBM part that could have been borrowed from Shining or Xasthur). The rest sounds like Slowdive discovered trem picking and hired the wrong drummer, which is where people came up with the conclusion that they mix black metal with post-rock and shoegaze elements. The songs go nowhere, droning on incessantly in one fixed mood (bittersweet melancholy) underscoring "emotional" vocals that are more akin to what an "extreme" screamo vocalist (like the one in Orchid) would perform than any kind of black metal vocals. The end result is whine rock with nothing to offer, but since it's in a more "extreme" form, you can lie to people and tell them that this is a "nu" kind of black metal and they would buy it, even if it is cut from the same mold of things they supposedly hate. The fact that these guys have no problem riding the waves of this marketing gimmick for the sake of popularity reveals just how insincere their band is.
These guy don't understand metal and this album feels like it was written by a bunch of guys who should be known for playing LUSH covers to Starbucks aficionados than anything remotely related to metal. If you think ironically juxtaposing underground metal aesthetics (where only the fast drumming and fast chord strumming speed are utilized) with the music of a Sigur Ros LP is the next "nu" creative frontier, then do yourself a favor: stop listening to metal (or pretending to), and go search for early 90s 4AD records releases. At least that way you can listen to crap in it's original form instead of this insincere whine rock. Vapid.