Deafheaven have reshaped what it is and what it can be to be a metal band over the last decade. Seamlessly combining elements of black metal, post-rock, thrash, shoegaze, and even dream pop throughout each of their releases, the California 5-piece somehow make switching gears from Burzum and Slayer to Wilco and Explosions in The Sky the norm. Expected, even.
In 2020 the band had planned to do a North American tour in celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Deafheaven’s first demo release. Due to Covid-19 and touring restrictions the band couldn’t play any shows, so instead they hit a studio and played the set they had planned on curating for the tour. The results of that recording session is 10 Years Gone, an album that acts as a sampler platter to the band’s eclectic and brilliantly chaotic sound world.
Here’s what the band had to say about 10 Years Gone:
“Earlier this year we intended on celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Deafheaven demo released through Bandcamp on June 1, 2010 with a tour of North America with our friends Inter Arma, Greet Death and All Your Sisters. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fulfill that tour because of fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. To rebound from the financial and morale hit, we put together an album of the set we intended to perform.”
Deafheaven open this live in the studio set with the epic 2014 single “From The Kettle Onto The Coil”, a track the band wrote and recorded for Adult Swim’s weekly single series. In my mind this is the perfect Deafheaven track. It shows the band’s knack for locking into both the classic thrash of the 80s Bay area heyday, as well as their virtuosic ability to instantly drop into gorgeous atmospheric melancholy. As much as George Clarke’s skull-splitting scream and Kerry McCoy’s guitar pummel are essential, Deafheaven wouldn’t be Deafheaven with out the drumming of Daniel Tracy. His work is nothing short of brilliant throughout their four full-length releases. And on this opener he solidifies his position as one of the greatest rock drummers working today.
Deafheaven also go way back to their 2010 demo with “Daedalus”, which shows the band reaching for the heights of albums like Sunbather and New Bermuda, but still taking baby steps towards it. I feel like we’re hearing this song the way it was intended. The young dudes are older, wiser, and know their way around their instruments a little better now.
The band gives us a bit from each record, allowing us to hear their progression through the years. From Roads To Judah(“Language Games”) to Sunbather(“Vertigo”, “The Pecan Tree”) to New Bermuda(“Baby Blue”) to Ordinary Corrupt Human Love(“Glint”), Deafheaven revisit their past in a raw, visceral experience. It’s only fitting that the band end this set on the seminal Sunbather track “Dream House”. To this day the track gives me chills, reminding me of the first time I dropped the needle on it. Musically and lyrically, this track is absolute poetry.
10 Years Gone is both a look back and a glance forward for one of the best metal bands working today. Maybe 2021 will see that tour finally happen. If not, this record is a reminder of what it could’ve been.
8.5 out of 10