Deafheaven: Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018) – Album Review

Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018), is the fourth studio album from black metal/shoegaze metal band Deafheaven. I ended up reviewing their very popular, critically acclaimed album, Sunbather (2013), around the same time this album dropped, and promised I would review this album as well. Coming off of listening to Sunbather, I was incredibly excited for their new material, because I was a huge fan of their older albums, much like everyone else. Their incredibly energetic, progressive, and epic movements were impressive to me, and they showed that they are nothing like the other bands in the genre(s) they’re a part of.

This album also sticks out, much like their others, but doesn’t seem to hold the same amount of truly intriguing material. They once again attempt to break out into other genres and styles throughout the collection of tracks, but this time without as much energy or maybe even direction. Instead of more grandiose, victorious songs, it is instead full of very dreary, emotional tracks.

The opening track, “You Without End,” as well as “Night People,” are both very piano driven, and feature a female vocalist, with a much calmer voice than their stuff on Sunbather. The opening track specifically features a lot of spoken-word, rather than singing. This sort of dips the emotional tone down, and makes it a lot less full, enthusiastic. Both tracks are just incredibly somber, and therefore uninteresting for the most part.

The fourth track of the song, “Near,” simply sounds like a newer, lo-fi, indie rock hit from a band like The Beach Fossils. And while I quite enjoy a lot of The Beach Fossils music, it doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the album, and once again serves to mellow out the tone of the album. It’s filled with echoey, soft acoustic guitars, and these cushy vocals that are just not what you expect in a Deafheaven album. The song itself just isn’t wonderful, even on its own, and doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s kind of like a bland, cookie-cutter indie rock song they just happened to throw in there.

Tracks like “Glint,” and the finale track, “Worthless,” are pretty neat, although not as inventive as a lot of their other stuff. “Glint,” sounds like a pretty straightforward hard rock jam, with much heavier vocals. The beginning is a low-volume, trippy, almost psychedelic intro, but quickly transitions into this much harsher, more guitar-driven section that continues for the majority of the song. “Worthless,” is probably the track I felt had the most squandered potential. It also starts off with this more psychedelic intro, but gets into this incredibly emotional core, and then goes into a final, quick, heavy ending with some great guitar licks in it. Sadly though, it fades out (like the ending to Sunbather), leaving you with a quieter touch to an otherwise pretty entertaining track.

I will say, the other two tracks do a lot of heavy-lifting for the album as a whole. Tracks two and three, “Honeycomb,” and “Canary Yellow,” may be some of my favorite Deafheaven tracks in all of their work. More reminiscent of their other songs on Sunbather, they bring this raw energy and power to the album that is lacking in many of the other pieces featured on here. While they’re not all heavy and loud, they have several, super theatrical sections that are just jaw-dropping when you hear some of them. One of the later sections in “Canary Yellow,” specifically features certain guitar parts that just made me incredibly excited, and while the descending chords got a little repetitive after a while, the sheer force of them was incredibly moving.

I don’t think that Deafheaven should be trying to recreate albums like Sunbather in order to stay relevant, or even good, but ridding their music of its necessary energy makes it much less entertaining to listen to. As a metal band, I can understand wanting to make it have a darker tone, but that doesn’t require you to bring the energy level down as well. I commend them for branching out even further and attempting to add things like spoken-word, and a more acoustic, indie-rock-sounding track, but it doesn’t work with the rest of the album, particularly their more epic songs like “Canary Yellow.” Like I said before, the few tracks I did enjoy, I thought were masterful, and without them, I probably would have this at a 4/10, but instead I’m going to give it a 6/10. I hope they get out of this weird spell, and continue to make incredibly epic, one-of-a-kind tracks, because as they’ve shown over the past several years they’ve been a band: they definitely have the talent and vision to create epic, outstanding music.

Favorite Track(s): “Honeycomb,” “Canary Yellow”

Least Favorite Track(s): “Night People”

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