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Only as recently as the past 10 to 15 years has American black metal truly evolved into a sound that can compete with the traditional European and Australian black metal sounds. One band who have launched into the global black metal stratosphere are Deafheaven. I caught up with vocalist George Clarke ahead of their Australian tour.

Deafheaven’s second album, 2013’s Sunbather, was met with critical acclaim the world over. Whilst, in case you don’t remember, this particular writer derided the band’s “shoe­ gaze mixed with black metal” sound, but it wasn’t until last year’s release, New Bermuda, did I become converted. Less shoe­ gaze and a f*ck load more black metal, New Bermuda was one tearingly brutal yet beautiful step up for the band.

I had to ask George how he felt about the immense critical acclaim the band received for Sunbather. “It’s always surprising, it’s always really gratifying but very surprising. We did not know what to expect but what happened was great, you know. We took it all in our stride and we toured a lot on the record and we tried to get it out to as many people as possible and that’s all you can really do.”

And tour they did. The band have visited our fine land once before to support Sunbather and for George, “It was great, I think most of those shows, if not all, sold out. We played with some cool bands and had a great reaction and hopefully it’s more of the same this time.”

This time the band has two well known, extremely well received, albums under their belt to showcase in the live setting. Considering the band’s previous critically acclaimed album, I asked George how the band felt after having more acclaim piled on the band for New Bermuda. “It’s always a really nice surprise when people respond in that kind of way to your album. On our end the only thing you can really do is just work hard and trust yourself and put enough time and effort into this sort of thing and just hope for the best. It was stressful and it was a lot of pressure on ourselves but it looks like it paid off and a lot of people seem to enjoy the record – it’s a good thing.”

Considering the differences between Sunbather and New Bermuda, George explained how conscious he and the band were of differing their sound for their most recent album.

“Most importantly, we just didn’t wanna write a Sunbather part two, we wanted New Bermuda to sound like us but to not be the same thing. And we hoped to incorporate different influences to the degree that the records were separated. I guess in recording, that translated, I think, that New Bermuda sounds a bit bigger, has a slicker sound but still natural and definitely stepped up from the last record,” he says.

The band’s lyrics focus on George’s personal experiences but when you read them and listen to them, they’re poetic, gritty, beautiful yet dark, and to me somewhat claustrophobic. “I try and write about personal things in an interesting way, that doesn’t feel so bland. And [something] that is as enjoyable to read hopefully as it is to listen to,” George said.

Written by Paul S Taylor

When & Where: Corner Hotel, Melbourne – June 3