In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. First up in this series of guest reviews is the prolific Espi Kvlt of Apricitas, Yngve, Seas of Winter, Phryne, Guan Yin, and Exsanguinated Shade. Read on!
Written by: Espi Kvlt
Is it blissful?
It’s like a dream.
I want to dream.
These words, from the first track off Deafheaven’s sophomore album, cut through me like a knife the first time I held the lyrics booklet up to my face to digest its contents. Impossible to decipher by simply listening to the album, I wanted to absorb every bit of it, as it had caressed me in the darkness of that filthy basement apartment where I lived with the man that would soon become my ex-boyfriend. The screeching vocals off Sunbather called out to me like a friend each time I was left in that bed in the corner of our room to ponder what I did to deserve the abuse from the man I thought I loved.
It cannot be overstated how much the lyrics alone have left a permanent impact on my
psyche, so much so that I branded those lyrics from “Dream House” permanently onto my flesh beside a ram skull. During those tumultuous times in that apartment, they were a source of comfort. They were my therapy. Accustomed to bands like Darkthrone and Cradle of Filth, it was the first time I had encountered such poetic language in black metal. Later in my life, this extended to my own lyrics. Deafheaven’s Sunbather still informs each decision I make when I put that pen to the paper. Lines like “Lost in the patterns of youth / And the ghost of your aches comes back to haunt you / And the forging of change makes no difference” make me both overjoyed at the experience of being able to read them and saddened to know I didn’t come up with them myself.
But lyrics and harsh screams are not the only thing that makes this album such a triumph. Listening to it, to this day, I still feel like I’m being cradled in the warm strums of the guitars, the tremolo picking managing to remain perfectly balanced between fast riffs and sounds so sweet they’d taste like honey. The blast beats that radiate throughout the composition call to mind the image of flower petals bounding off from the drum skins. The bass rings out beneath each song with basslines that sound like lullabies – hard, fast lullabies. With all the instruments uniting as one, the end result is songs which call to mind images of summer, of heat, of having SAD when the days are long and the temperature outside searing (which I do, coincidentally).
Sunbather is not simply an album I love. It is an album that got me through the darkest time of my life. It was a therapist to me through the cold hatred of a man who tried to take everything from me. It has informed me as a musician and as a writer. I could never repay this album for all it has done for me. It calls out to me like an old friend whenever I am being sought out once again by the darkness of the human heart. It calls out to me like an old friend every time I place my own pen to the paper to write.
It’s like a dream.
I want to dream.
Deafheaven - Sunbather was released 2013 from Deathwish. All of Deafheaven's assorted links can be found on their official site.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!