Alright faithful reader. Let’s get real. And not just real, REALLY fucking real. I’m about to spend the next 3-4 paragraphs blathering on about how I feel about Deafheaven’s newest album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (spoiler alert: it’s really, really fucking good). About how masterfully the band can blend the warm guitar sounds and upbeat melodies of alternative rock with the grimy, piercing evilness of black metal. About how, despite being far from the only band trying to bring a new dimension to the stagnant sound that is European Black Metal, Deafheaven can do it more effortlessly than group around. But let’s cut through the bullshit: you don’t need to read this review. By the time you’ve read the title of this article you’ve already made up your mind about how you feel. Nothing that I could say, do, pontificate, preach, evangelize or squawk has a popsicle’s chance in hell of changing your mind once it’s been made up about Deafheaven.
You see, for reasons that I still don’t understand to this day, Deafheaven currently hold the title of Most Polarizing Band in Metal. Something about bringing non-metal elements into a genre occupied by little boys trying to embody “TRVE KVLT” and all the bullshit it entails brings out the hatred in droves. I wouldn’t expect everyone to like Deafheaven, and I understand that metal fans have a hard time embracing other music styles, but honestly, what the fuck? Their music is good. They are talented. They scream their faces off. What else do you really want?
So that brings us to Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Stylistically it is a near 180°-turn from their last outing, 2015’s New Bermuda. While New Bermuda was Deafheaven at their most black metal, full of endless blast beats and riffs denser than a poorly made cupcake, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love skews towards the band’s alt-rock sensibilities, with oodles and oodles of light, warm and fluffy pancakes…I mean guitar tones, romantic imagery, and a pervasive sense of calm dominating most of the album. Vocalist George Clarke’s menacing, unbridled screams are the only constant from the Black Metal realm, although there are brief moments of aggression expertly peppered in throughout most tracks (in particular “Canary Yellow” and “Glint”). It’s almost as if the band embraced their harshest criticisms and leaned into them more than accounting for them, producing an album that sounds more like the record that they’ve always been meant to make.
At just seven tracks (with four of them over 10 minutes long), Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is best digested as a whole, as the brief interludes on the album (and I use that term loosely, with the shortest track on the record clocking in at 4:08) do a fantastic job of setting up the album’s heavy hitters. While “Near” and “Night People” may not be as memorable as “Honeycomb” or “Canary Yellow”, they are integral to the flow of the album, providing an even greater juxtaposition than already exists on the main tracks.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is a wonderful album, and one that feels like Deafheaven pushing themselves further musically than ever before. While I must admit that I miss the uncut aggression of New Bermuda, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love show a level of maturation and growth that I didn’t expect from the band. Now, for those of you who skipped the entire review just so you can bitch about the grade that you inevitably disagree with, eat shit.
“Honeycomb”, “Canary Yellow”, “Glint”