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Deafheaven Sunbather album cover
3.86 | 67 ratings | 7 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dream House (9:15)
2. Irresistible (3:13)
3. Sunbather (10:17)
4. Please Remember (6:26)
5. Vertigo (14:37)
6. Windows (4:43)
7. The Pecan Tree (11:27)

Total Time 59:58

Line-up / Musicians

- George Clarke / vocals, piano
- Kerry McCoy / guitars, bass
- Daniel Tracy / drums

- Stéphane Paut / spoken word (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Nick Steinhardt

CD Deathwish ‎- DW146 (2013, US)

2LP Deathwish ‎- DW146 (2013, US)

Digital album

Thanks to RedNightmareKing for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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DEAFHEAVEN Sunbather ratings distribution

(67 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

DEAFHEAVEN Sunbather reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Deafheaven's Sunbather is a sophomore album that I wasn't really expecting much from. Sure the cover excited me and the descriptions of the upcoming tracks from The Needle Drop kind of perked my interest, but the band's debut album really left me cold, I thought it was just generic black metal with very little experimentation and elaborateness.

This album, on the other hand, is a definite improvement and I'm glad I tried it out.

Although it's basis is in black metal as was its predecessor, Sunbather draws influence from several different music scenes including shoegaze, post-rock, post-metal and even some subtler influences from alternative metal. These new injections from outside the band's previous realm are a welcome sound indeed, especially the post-rock leaning moments.

On this album Deafheaven has the crescendos and sound bites of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the vocals of Agalloch and the shoegaze-laden metal of Alcest, and the final product is a beautiful record, one of the best of the year, no doubt.

If the cover indicates anything, it's that this music is different. Different in a very good way. Different in ways progheads, metalheads and genuine musicheads can really enjoy.

Review by Guldbamsen
2 stars Potato - Potato

The last review I did, I inadvertently flew halfway across the globe from the thousand lakes of Finland to the land of milk and honey. Well that's me in a nutshell... Even when I plan something ahead - like this little review stint of mine - going from country to country, I still manage to surprise myself and do something uncalled for and silly...

Oh well all the more reason to get excited, because whereas a great portion of proggers out there bow their heads in eternal gratitude to the ever succulent and vivacious whims of the English isles, there are still some of us who believe that their bastard child way out in the west has produced some remarkable albums through the years.....and while this certainly isn't one of them, it is still what I choose to write about just to keep things nicely out of check and confusing. Just the way I like it.

I've seen a disturbing tendency on other reviewing websites of late - in particularly on Rate Your Music, where young peeps herald current albums as sonic originators, milestones of certain genres - and all of a suddenly this pseudo musical "knowledge" becomes fact. It irritates the hell out of me.

Deafheaven's Sunbather is a perfect case to illustrate this. Many people seem to hear this as an altogether fresh and progressive branching of the ever winding metal tree, and while the band must be said to have their fingers on the pulse of today's current fluctuations and musical gang-banging, the people claiming Deafheaven as unique maestros of progressive post metal shoegaze are still missing the obvious: This album is a major rip-off of the Alcest sound. It's so obvious that it literally screams at you! There's a pun intended there - especially seeing as this album basically draws on the ethereal panoramic post rock of Neige and fellow compatriots, and then leaves out any of the gentle singing.

Boiled down, Sunbather sounds like a heavier take on Écailles de Lune much credited to the cement mixing double pedal drumming and the ear shattering screamo vocals. You get the same huge wall of sound from the guitars - sounding like oceanic tidal waves feeding off one another in beautifully wavering patterns - the same nonchalant ways about the production side of things pulling the album neatly close to the current fad of Black Metal, and last but not least: the attempt at mixing all of these facets together in order to make something airy, heavy, dreamy and soaring. They do succeed on more than one occasion, but for my tastes there's a lack of subtlety. A non-existent vacuum of flow that eludes these guys from start to finish. Something that Alcest does so incredibly well.

These guys may sport chops the size of anabolic sheep farmers, but then again I've always preferred mind over matter - sauce over gravy - brain over brawl. The drums are a perfect example of this. Sounding like an amphetamine fuelled spastic, this guy seeks to highlight every note and shading to his surroundings, that every important peak seems to end up over-thought and hurried - like Mike Portnoy playing the drums during an uncomfortable pat down at the airport...

If you however are searching high and low for something comparable to the aforementioned French dreamer and furthermore feel indifferent about plagiarism, then you'll probably love this thing like sliced bread. To me personally, this is like hearing The Watch after a good Genesis sit down - or munching on an unpeeled potato after a big plate of pommes frites.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Sunbather' - Deafheaven (6/10)

I remember Hunter-Hunt Hendrix (of Liturgy infamy) once defending the new wave of 'uplifting' black metal as being in keeping with black metal's doctrine of controversy and rebellion. Indeed, the pejoratively-titled scene of 'hipster black metal' has polarized audiences; some embrace the softer approach as a relatively fresh innovation, and others have lavished the 'hipster' bands with the greatest execration and disdain since Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. Love or hate them, bands like Liturgy and San Francisco's Deafheaven are causing a stir, and it's always interesting to see people taking such equally vehement stances for and against a band. While I've always been skeptical that a style so historically rooted in darkness could (or should) be translated into feelings of hope and optimism as Deafheaven strive for on Sunbather, I've kept myself open to the possibility. Unfortunately, while Deafheaven's shoegaze-laden approach to black metal clearly intends to revive and invent the genre, I find it difficult to be particularly moved one way or the other by the most polarizing metal record of 2013. Sunbather is not an excellent album, nor is it the horrendous abomination genre-purists claim it to be. Rather, its predictable dynamics and washy atmosphere leave it somewhere in the neighborhood of 'moderately enjoyable'. In short, Deafheaven's second album is an only slightly above-average take on blackgaze that doesn't warrant the extreme opinions from either side.

In addition to the counter-intuitive emotional spin Deafheaven have placed on black metal in Sunbather, the album's cheerfully minimalistic cover makes it fairly obvious that they mean to rebel against the traditional order. Conceptualized as a reflection of the colours seen on the insides of one's eyelids when basking in the sun, it's an apt reflection of Deafheaven's emotional appeal. Operating in terms of melancholy and hopeful optimism, Sunbather gives an impression closer to that of a post-rock record than any metal I've heard this year. The guitars are laden in reverb and distortion, but the songwriting never betrays a sense of malice or anger. Conventionally beautiful harmonies are used in abundance here; particularly on some of the clean sections offered, Deafheaven will overdub guitars to create a dense, yet accessible wall of sound. Although it often feels like Deafheaven choose the most obvious sequence of notes to resolve their motifs, the compositions demonstrate a talent with knowing when to change up the pace. "The Pecan Tree" really excels with its dynamic, switching between soft and heavy sections, each contributing towards a powerful emotional payoff.

Although Sunbather feels rooted in a fairly narrow emotional context of longing and melancholy throughout, Deafheaven have a firm grasp of songwriting dynamic. In spite of that, Sunbather feels constructed out of a mere handful of tricks and ideas, to the point where the formula begins to feel predictable long before the album is over. Deafheaven are remarkably consistent throughout the album, but the everpresent euphony filtered over blastbeats and vocal shrieks feels too narrow a range to stay engaging through the album's hour length. Especially considering the roots of the genre the band is apparently trying to reinvent, Sunbather offers a nicely blended production, with textural detail aplenty to keep the atmosphere afloat. While the instrumentation is dynamic and powerful (with special merits going to Daniel Tracy for an excellent drum performance!) the vocals are painfully underwhelming. George Clarke's harsh screams are high pitched and raspy (in keeping with frostbitten traditions) but they're undermixed, lack resonance and fail to add a relevant emotional dimension to the music. Screams in 'blackgaze' music can be used plenty effectively, but Deafheaven's failure to properly integrate the vocals into their atmosphere is a sullen reminder that the effort to reinvent black metal as an 'uplifting' sound feels ultimately contrived and needlessly contrarian.

Most of all, Sunbather is a case where the hype (both good and bad) has left me disappointed. There are moments here where I come close to feeling the awe and admiration others have clearly felt, but the feelings are fleeting at best. I'm pleased that a fairly young band like Deafheaven is getting such an enthusiastic reception, but I'm simply not feeling it at much. Its uplifting, graceful beauty comes at the cost of emotional tension or challenge. The blackgaze style has potential aplenty for an emotionally evocative experience- Alcest's excellent Écailles de Lune and Lantlos' .neon come first to mind- but in the case of Sunbather, I wish I could be feeling more from it.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Deafheaven's Sunbather is certainly a divisive release, with some listeners embracing it whilst many - especially black metal purists - passionately disliking it. The thing is, I think the album's detractors are correct in most of their criticisms but short-sighted in their conclusions: that is to say, when you get down to it this really is a post-rock album with black metal vocals and blast beats parachuted in.

Where they go wrong is dismissing this combination in the first place; the album is actually a really entertaining listen, though I think you would need to enjoy both post-rock and black metal to really get the most out of it. And in expanding the lyrical subject matter of black metal as this album does, with songs about heartache and feelings and all sorts of stuff that more kvlt bands are too busy praising Satan or Odin (or, in some unwelcome corners of the subgenre, Hitler) to really address.

Latest members reviews

5 stars If you're expecting this to be black metal, you're in for a weird surprise. Deafheaven is a metal band that combines post-metal, black metal, shoegaze, and other genres to their sound, creating a unique sound unlike any other. Sunbather is the second studio album by Deafheaven. The album is lo ... (read more)

Report this review (#2494009) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Friday, January 15, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Divisiveness I remember well the day that Sunbather first leaked. Well, I should, as it was only a month ago. But regardless, it was an interesting day. I had known of Deafheaven prior to the release of Sunbather, after Roads To Judah became part of The Great Black Metal Awakening Of Early ... (read more)

Report this review (#1205214) | Posted by Gallifrey | Friday, July 4, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Calling Sunbather "uplifting" or "hopeful" is a mistake. Themes such as poverty, lust, existential crises, broken homes, insecurity are everpresent throughout the album. Certainly, it offers small shreds of hope, moreso than most Black Metal bands outside the Liturgy fanclub, but the main focus i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1112072) | Posted by Polymorphia | Friday, January 10, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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