Our original goal in creating the For Fans Of column was to pick out some of the biggest and most well-known bands throughout the metallic spectrum and offer fans who may not have dug deep in this kind of sound a way to really dive in. In that sense it’s really a surprise that we haven’t done one of these for Deafheaven yet, seeing as they’re a band who have attracted a wide range of fans, many of whom likely do not consider themselves first-and-foremost metal fans. Sunbather, and to a lesser extent New Bermuda, is the epitome of modern metal crossing over into the mainstream, and it brought many new and unexpected fans in who perhaps weren’t intimately aware of the musical traditions Deafheaven drew from in their blend of black metal, post-metal, and other, more traditional and old-school metal and hardcore influences.
If Deafheaven serves as an excellent entry point to a whole range of exciting bands who play around with similar styles and influences, then what follows here is an excellent guide to where to turn to for just that. Some of these are bands we’ve covered extensively in the past and present, but it’s likely that most of anyone reading this will find at least one band they weren’t familiar with. Without further ado, here are our handpicked selection for fans of Deafheaven!
Huszar – Los nuevos absolutos de todos los días quemados
Huszar is a name you’re most likely unfamiliar with. The Argentine one-man project recently released Los nuevos absolutos de todos los días quemados (The New Absolutes of All Days Burned) as their debut album. The two tracks on record, “Ceres, la angusta & yo” (Ceres, Anguish, and I), and “Plutón va a tener su venganza en el estero de Agosto, parte 1: Stygeros” (Pluton Will Have Its Revenge on August’s Pond, Part 1: Stygeros) are quite long, each hovering around the twenty minute mark. The first one is very blackgaze-y, while the second has more atmospheric black metal elements to it, but they’re both well worth your time. On top of that, despite being essentially a one-man band, they’ve added musicians for a full live lineup. So, Argentine readers, check out for dates around Buenos Aires!
Lantlos – .neon
My introduction to Lantlos was pretty succinct, but it speaks volumes to how they operate within the sphere of blackgaze/post-black metal: the band has a very singular presence on their records and often presents themselves as an alternative to many other blackgaze bands within the genre, a wonderful palate cleanser more than a main course. I was standing outside of a venue, shooting the shit with a few other people who were there for the show, and mentioned that recently I’d been listening to Sunbather quite a lot recently, along with a couple other big post-black bands. One of the guys out there with me responded, “Deafheaven’s cool, but have you ever listened to Lantlos?” I told him I hadn’t; I checked them out the next day and was blown away by their release .neon. It’s a fantastic album that brings a gloomier, less resplendent side of the typical blackgaze formula, more bolstered by an atmosphere of straightforward melancholy than one of emotional ups and downs. It’s a beautiful release, nonetheless, and one worth checking out for any fan of the genre for their unique emotional sensibility and beautiful ability to convey a very singular emotion extremely well. If you like Deafheaven but need something less optimistic for the coming winter months, .neon should be right up your alley.
Oathbreaker – Rheia
Yes, we’re writing about Oathbreaker again. Momentum is a very real thing within any community and the metal community is no different. However, this list would be the worst without this entry and so, we feel it is our duty to praise them once again. This is doubly more important when you consider their relationship with Deafheaven and the way in which they transform the post black metal sound.
For those on the outside of the genre, perhaps not as well versed in the black metal progenitors of it, it can often present an abrasive and unapproachable face. The shoegaze elements coupled with black metal can often seem overbearing and oddly repetitive. Oathbreaker resolve these issues by injecting the sub-genre with impressive variety, utilizing rises and falls during Rheia to counteract the overwhelming, monolithic nature of the core post black sound.
Thus, their 2016 album is no less than a rebirth for the genre, an example that ought to be studied by any bands planning on releasing an album with the genre in the future. Incorporating clean vocals, haunting, quiet ambiance and an overall dedication to keeping the listener on their toes, Oathbreaker manage to make an album that is both inherently tied to the scene from which it spawned and relentlessly critical of it. Thus, their spot on any such list is guaranteed, as they propel what post black metal means towards the future.
Sun Devoured Earth – The Sunshine Always Fades
Sun Devoured Earth is the alias of Latvian multi-instrumentalist Vadim Vasilyev; a genre-shattering titan who intrinsically weaves depressive black metal with drone, shoegaze, ambient, post rock and post punk to create a sound that’s moody and filled with emotion. Unlike Deafheaven and many other bands who fall under the post black metal umbrella, Sun Devoured Earth tends to focus predominantly on the mellower and moodier elements of the sub-genre, which makes him a good starting point for those still trying to ease their way into its harsher qualities. Then, on the other hand, it provides a soothing alternative to the extremity which dominates post black metal for the most part, without losing any of the atmospheric emotive qualities that are provided through floating soundscapes and passages of yearning.
The Sunshine Always Fades is easy listening, but it’s not the easiest thing to listen to when you’re in self-reflection mode. There’s an aura of heavy sorrow permeating throughout, and it possesses the power to seep into your thoughts and ruin your good day. But it’s a powerful album; rooted in beauty and melancholy, the soft and the harsh. With song titles like “I’m Bored of Living’’ and “Everything Always Ends Badly’’ you know that this isn’t summer pool party music. But it’s music at its rawest and most elegantly harrowing, with the occasional foray into extreme terrains.
Sun Devoured Earth is the product of an artist equally influenced by Joy Division and Hammock as he is Sunn O))) and Alcest. Overall, pretty incredible – just don’t expect to come out of it feeling rejuvenated.
Weakling – Dead As Dreams
While California’s Weakling might not share a whole lot in common with Deafheaven as far as pure sonics go, it’s important that they be included on this list for a few reasons. For starters, Weakling was one of the first bands in the USBM landscape to truly break ground worldwide as far as innovation is concerned. Practically no one else has been able to match the grandiose nature of 2000’s Dead As Dreams, and absolutely remarkable LP that still stands the test of time as one of the most impressive slabs of progressive black metal to ever be released. While most bands across the globe for the majority of the 90s were focused on either staying as primitive as possible or exploring symphonic/gothic elements, Weakling embraced much loftier goals, crafting songs that went up to as long as twenty minutes and featured multiple shifts throughout each piece. Sure, Weakling wasn’t as keen to the post-rock inspired nature that Deafheaven is so well known for today, but it’s undeniable to see the link between the two. Both bands for their time are undoubtedly some of the most fearless and inspiring acts to come out of California’s bizarre black metal underground. Plus, the endlessly-tortured vocal performances help too!