We find Deafheaven moving into a new direction in their latest album Infinite Granite. The San Francisco band labeled by fans as blackmetal finds themselves in a more subdued space in this record, dropping the screams and the blasting volume into something with more emotion, beauty and luster. It’s a bold choice for sure, and I don’t doubt that listeners that got hooked by the band from their debut Sunbather were scratching their heads at this new direction. But the truth is, this gentler side had always been a part of Deafheaven from the start, a style the band has showcased in 2018’s Ordinary Concept Human Love to a lesser degree.
As it stands, Infinite Granite is a whole new world that stands well on itself, blending together post-rock and shoegaze into great heights. The layers in this record are exceptional, the synth and guitar work can go from plaintive to epic in scale and magnitude. The drums and bass are top-notch, constantly showing up in beautiful bursts as it cuts through the shiny glimmer. This record may be different from its predecessors, but it’s Deafheaven exploring and expressing themselves at their fullest.
Opener “Shellstar” sets up the tone as a great introduction, with its oceanic riffs and vast spatial effects brought about by reverb and chorus. It feels like shoegaze in high definition, as if the fuzz was replaced by an almost orchestral sheen.
Although all shades of metal have been subdued from the record, there are still lots of great powerful moments in here. “Great Mass of Color” has loud bursts of sound exploding against moments of quiet introspection. Frontman George Clarke’s grand conceptual writing comes in line with the otherworldly sounds in scope, which makes the whole experience like driving your imagination into overdrive.
The range of this album is also impressive. “Neptune Raining Diamonds”’ is an ambient interlude that could have been a full track if it were in another album. With a calm spacey vibe that reminds me of Vangelis’ soundtracks. In “Lament for Wasps’” the sound goes to full volume in the later section, creating a tempest of fuzz and percussion that’s a marvel to listen to. For those looking for the heavy blastbeats from the band, it can be found in “Mombasa”. A song that starts with hypnotic calm that slowly develops into an doom-tinged rage of screams and howls.
Infinite Granite is an evolution from Deafheaven’s regular fare. Some may see this as a step too far, but it’s always been there, in the second part of the band’s name. A part of them that this time, is celebrated to its fullest potential.