The fourth album from California based, post-black/shoe-gaze/black-gaze/whatever metal outfit Deafheaven is a transitional disk that manages to expand upon their foundation while reaching new audial heights. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love won’t put to bed the nausea-inducing sub-genre metal arguments, but it does make clear that Deafheaven no longer care about labels or perception; they just released a gorgeous slice of music that rocks, explores, crashes and soars.
The band mixes brutal sonic assaults with pretty passages; think of cranked-up-to-11 versions of Explosions in The Sky sonic adventures, minus the vocals of course. When it comes to those, Deafheaven’s simply is not for everyone as George Clark has been screaming four ten years and counting now.
While most songs retain that vocal shredding style, Clark has augmented things to enunciate more often and even outright sing on a few tracks, including the delicate duet “Night People” which features Chelsea Wolf. The song is a distinct departure for the group, fans may have been waiting for the yelling to commence, however, Deafheaven is expanding their sound palette successfully.
Opener “Year Without End” also features a female voice as Nadia Kury lets the piano and wind kickoff the song before doing a spoken word piece about Oakland. The effort grows huge with ringing riffs and piano runs and yet when Clark enters his yelps are regulated mostly to the background.
There are still blasting tracks that range wide over ten minutes like “Canary Yellow” containing huge beating drums and “Glint” which slowly develops a driving rhythmic groove around the harsh screams peaking in arena rafters, all before closer “Worthless Animal” fades out the record. On all of those offerings the shining riffs and upbeat arraignments are juxtaposed with Clark’s caterwauling vocals and while on past efforts those yells were the focal point, now they work more as augmentations, mixed lower into the overall sound, to the betterment of the band.
“Near” is simply picturesque, another successful expansion of their sound with bubbling bass, marching drums, string sections and more layered singing from Clark while first single “Honeycomb” just may be the standout on a solid album. The track is a banger, bleeding an organ to start before proceeding to slam heavy, motoring and incorporating danceable riffs from the mega guitar of Kerry McCoy who possesses an amazing arsenal of awe-inspiring guitar riffs, phrases and sounds.
The bright guitar passages are everywhere and while Clark’s lyrics can be indecipherable most times, one line comes through which sums up Ordinary Corrupt Human Love well, at the close of “Canary Yellow” Clarke sings the line, “An everlasting, handsome night/My lovers blood rushes right through me”; the band are alive and enjoying the demented beauty in the world on their own gloriously mixed-up terms.