- Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
- Post-Black Metal
This was my first Deafheaven album and working through their backlog has been an interesting journey. Each album is a distinct experience and Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is the most distinct of all. That isn’t to say it’s their best work but rather to validate its place within the discography. They are labelled as post-black metal, which is a less common label to see and can mean a few things, many of which are boring. Deafheaven is far from boring.
It’s just a hell of a lot brighter this time round and I think that’s thrown off the conventional black metal fans who tend to thrive on being the exact opposite of ‘bright’. In their album New Bermuda, you can hear riffs and sections that touch on what OCHL is doing. I feel like they decided to expand on that aspect of their sound and apply it to the heavier parts of their albums to create a whole new sound.
Two major styles are present here, shoegaze and black metal. I love this combination because it typically uses a lot of storytelling. They are both genres known long brooding songs and often a platform to express thoughts and feelings. Again, something I really enjoy. What OCHL does is use the conventions and stylings of both genres instrumentally but applies a tone that is more upbeat and positive. It’s the same familiar transitions, riffs and beats but they have been turned upside down. This is not only a cool concept for an album, but it also shows great craftsmanship musically, to deconstruct the two genres they have been known for and rebuild something refreshing.
The vocals are great, on a regular black metal album they wouldn’t be anything special, but they are used with the bright music in a way that is really fitting. A lot of the notes end high where they would typically end low and the rhythm is different. The vocalist clearly has a solid understanding of the genres and he freely manipulates them for his own use. Other bands have attempted the core concept presented here but this is the most pleasing version of it that I have heard. The lyrics are stunning, I’d recommend reading them as they contribute to the attitude of the album in a poetic way.
Instrumentally this album is damn near a masterpiece. It grooves, it takes it’s time and yet it is always making its point. There’s a lot of aggressive metal guitar work like tremolo picking used on this album but it’s done on a brighter key or scale, so it just sounds nice or “pretty”. It really is the reverse side of black metal and I’m not sure if it would be as possible without the slow shoegaze aspect of the songs. The drumming really starts to pick up when the tracks grow in intensity, becoming just as noisy as you’d hear on any other metal record. Particularly the track “Glint”, when it reaches its peak, it goes off like fireworks on the night of your life. It’s all the parts of previous albums that made Deafheaven unique put into one fully realized album that doesn’t borrow anything for the sake of contrast.
Overall this is a very emotionally stirring album and I am very glad I found out about it. It’s one of those few albums that feels like you’re exploring something as you listen to it and I haven’t felt this strongly about an album in a long time. It takes you on a journey and I think that’s worth more than any amount of genre loyalty or pandering.
This album is like your life flashing before your eyes as you lie on the verge of death but everything you see makes you content.