Deafheaven’s best: Four essential cuts from the crossover metal faves

Deafheaven plays the Bunkhouse February 26.
Photo: Kristen Cofer
Ian Caramanzana

Simply put, Deafheaven’s music is an anomaly. Call it black metal. Call it shoegaze. Call it post-rock. Over the course of three albums and two EPs, the San Francisco band has truly created a sound of its own. To gear you up for the February 26 gig at the Bunkhouse with This Will Destroy You and Emma Ruth Rundle, we handpicked four of Deafheaven’s best cuts.

Daedalus” (Demo)

Talk about making a statement. Deafheaven’s demo, released in June 2010, not only introduced the world to a new sound, it’s the band’s sole release exclusively featuring principal members George Clarke (vocals) and Kerry McCoy (guitars). “Daedalus”—like the Greek god of craft and artistry for whom it’s named—is a masterfully crafted blend of pummeling blast beats and guitar tremolos that climax in a driving march, not unlike the heaviest moments from Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai. The song doesn’t quite explore the extensive melodic soundscapes that have become the band’s bread and butter, but it does provide an inkling of what’s to come.

Unrequited” (Roads to Judah)

This prime cut from Deafheaven’s 2011 debut LP marks its tread into shoegaze territory. It also places the spotlight on the band’s now-recognizable aesthetic mix: tuneful phrasing; brash, black metal-inspired cadences and cinematic buildups. “Unrequited” begins as an ethereal, reverb-soaked number that transitions into rambunctiousness, like an airplane preparing to take off. Deafheaven often closes its sets with this song.

Dream House” (Sunbather)

The opener from Deafheaven’s 2013 breakout album is rife with cascading guitar leads and skittering snare snaps—all delivered with gusto. McCoy’s intricate riffing during the second half of this nine-minute epic sounds like it was culled from some of Johnny Marr’s most charming cuts. “Dreamhouse” is a triumphant masterpiece that, combined with the band’s deal with indie label Deathwish Inc., gave the world a panoramic view of Deafheaven’s sublime, expansive sound.

Brought to the Water” (New Bermuda)

Two years after winning over music critics and becoming darlings of the heavy-music scene, Deafheaven returned with its darkest, most aggressive body of work yet. “Brought to the Water” finds the band exploring the thrash-metal genre, with galloping, palm-muted guitars, ferocious double bass and minor-chord progressions … but only for so long. Of course, the band gracefully transitions into a soft, Cranberries-like jam session before reaching a melodic climax.

Deafheaven with This Will Destroy You, Emma Ruth Rundle. February 26, 8:30 p.m., $15-$20. Bunkhouse Saloon, 702-982-1764.

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