Deafheaven – Roads To Judah

Deafheaven – Roads To Judah

Roads To Judah has been out since last year on Deathwish Inc. and it’s a stunner of 4 lengthy, post-rock songs ranging from 6 to 12 minutes each.  George Clark and Kerry McCoy, the core of the band, have their fingers in more than one musically stylistic pie, flavoring their sound with dynamic, Shoegazer-inspired riffage, a black metal barrage of rapid-fire drum beats, and George’s aggressively growled out vocals.  The aural pummeling can be exhausting over the course of the whole album, where the listener ends up pinned down by the overwhelming sound, but in the dose of one song at a time, it can be exhilarating.

 Opener “Violet” builds up slowly with a measured framework of drums and burnished, reeling guitars, before grandly mounting an instrumental assault that hits like a jackhammer.  Cymbal crashes punctuate the increasing intensity and pace until it comes to a head and then flames out with elongated guitar lines.  George’s shouting is half-buried in the mix, so that his emotions and not his words become part of the aural landscape.

“Language Games” plunges straight into the controlled chaos of George’s tormented vocals, heavy guitar frisson, fast-paced drum work, and cymbal crash.  There’s an unexpected lull about 2/3 of the way through the track with a quieter, steady guitar pattern emerging.  The respite is brief, however, and it’s back to a propulsive tempo and a wall of guitars that creates a thick mire for George to roar his way out of. 

Resonating reverb guitar and a slower drum ‘n’ cymbals pace starts off “Unrequited” in more contemplative mood, but an undercurrent of menace threatens to erupt at any time.  Sure enough, after the two minute intro, a speedy tempo kicks in with the thundering gallop of drums and George’s vehement venting.  The last song, “Tunnel of Trees” starts off strong and doesn’t let up at first, careening at a wild pace as George wails away amid an unnaturally fast barrage of drums.  Suddenly, halfway through the number, the press relents and reflective guitar picking and an occasional drum beat attenuates the sound.  Again, this calm break is brief, and it all blasts forth again with ascending guitars reaching a final, cathartic release.

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