Album: Infinite Granite
Genre: Post-Metal / Shoegaze
Label: Sargent House
Location: San Francisco, CA
FFO: Liturgy, Slowdive, Turnover
I, much like many others, got into Deafheaven through one of the best Black-Gaze records ‘Sunbather’. They have been honing this unique sound, that comes off very much the opposite of the dark and gritty nature usually heard from Black Metal, for over a decade now. They haven’t been afraid to come off with a darker tone here and there, but it’s generally a much lighter, calming tone. To me at least, someone who finds most Black Metal relaxing.
This new record however, well there’s no point in trying to dissect it, it’s straight up a shoegaze record you might hear out of the 90s. A pretty sizable shift, but not completely out of their wheelhouse. Very well executed at that, the question is, will fans appreciate the change? Well here’s 1 fan’s opinion...
Being that I had a strong feeling of where this album was going after the singles, the first thing I did after hitting play was lean back in my chair, and close my eyes. I knew I wasn’t going to be moving too much. No pretend double bass under the desk or air guitar solos. That doesn’t mean these things aren’t included in the album, I just knew this was going to be more jovial than aggressive. Just some foot tapping and soaking in the melody like a warm day under the sun. Deafheaven has always been super atmospheric, big, and a good part relaxing. They've had these shoegaze style elements in their music before, so Infinite Granite is not a black and white change. In a way, even with some normal elements gone, it feels natural. I think their previous LP really set a stage for this album to come. They started to bring in different sounds, and now this is the bigger leap into something new. The biggest difference probably being the singing throughout the whole thing. The clean singing quality itself is good. Which obviously helps if you’re going to make an album with it. If he couldn't sing, we'd have an actual issue. But the singing is solid, and fits right in with the music hand and hand. The only real downside I’d say about these vocals is the lack of accentuated emotion. They are for the most part rather one tone and blend in with everything else under the reverb umbrella. Although a majority of what we hear is singing, there are still those distant tortured screams we know and love that pop up here and there. A welcoming touch.
Let's discuss the electronics because that is a big part of this sound as much as the instruments. The synths add a lot of texture to the songs. Something I feel is very important in music, especially within this lullaby sound. The more texture and dynamics you have, the more interesting and captivating it can become. These electronics also add to a more cinematic experience that make everything feel bigger.
One of the biggest things I focused on throughout the whole record aside from the electronics, is the drums. The drumming in general is very groovy and catchy, while the fills throw in splashes of extra creativity. It kept becoming a focus point for me and is without a doubt a highlight. If there were any moments that could’ve dragged out, the drums were usually there to keep good pacing. A really good pacing actually. For 53 minutes, I was shocked how fast it went by. Another aspect that, if missing, could’ve damaged the album.
The guitar work is probably the most dynamic all around. It manages to create just as much atmosphere as the synths, while having different angles of attack. Usually at a light strum or ghostly picking, the guitar can quickly strike into a whirlpool of lead and solo licks. From gentle swelling to harsher picking, it’s beautifully crafted within every track.
The entire vibe of this LP gives me strong feelings of nostalgia; The kind you get from hearing sounds of your youth, because this is very reminiscent of some shoe-gaze punk and indie music I listened to years ago. While also feeling a sense of impendence, like I’m being brought forth towards something unknown.
If I have any sizable criticism overall, it's the repetition of the rather predictable formula. After a few songs, I pretty much fully understood that they were mostly going to start soft, get a little bigger in the mid section, and burst into an ending section. At least that's what most of the tracks felt like.
Every musician and sound has its place here. Without one, I think there would be something noticeably lacking. Any more, and things might sound too busy. Compositionally could’ve been better, and I wish there were some more surprises. As divergent as it is, I find it refreshing. Infinite Granite is a well performed artistic feat for Deafheaven that hits different, but feels like home.
Strongest Song: Great Mass of Color, lament For Wasps
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/deafheaven/425470694