Black metal expressionists Deafheaven announced their third LP, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, with a 12-minute-long, sepia-toned song called “Honeycomb.” It borrowed more from the twinkly, half-paced musings of emotionally fraught late-90s suburb-dwellers than it did from the morbid and frostbitten Scandinavians who inspire frontman George Clarke’s deathly shrieks. It was, in one sense, a giant fuck you to the crowds of purists who resent the band’s perceived sullying of the genre. Clarke’s lyrics are always difficult to discern, and his voice is usually buried behind towers of noise anyway, but reading through his words didn’t suggest that there was a cold heart behind the sonic uplift: “I’m reluctant to stay sad / Life beyond is a field / A field of flowers.”
If “Honeycomb” annoyed you, then don’t go and listen to Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, which is streaming in full over at NPR this morning. It’s Deafheaven’s most melodic, most accessible, and occasionally most sentimental album yet. It trades more in post-rock prettiness than it does in primal fury; it’s more sunset than midnight. Even on “Glint,” one of four songs here that top 10 minutes, when Daniel Tracy’s double-kick flicks into action and Clarke’s voice conjures up a storm, things still arc over a major key. Even the haunting Chelsea Wolfe, who turns up on “Night People,” somewhere near earth here. This is a black metal album that promised “jazz-inspired percussion and intricate piano melodies.” This is an album lifts its title from a Graham Greene novel.
But if you want to hear an emotive, considered, occasionally melancholy rock record from a band who seem to have gleefully done away with needless conventions, go listen to the thing in full at NPR.
Follow Alex Robert Ross on Twitter.