One of my favorite introductions to an album ever is the first minute of “Printemps émeraude” on Alcest’s Souvenirs d’un autre monde. Bells clang together, the mist rolls off the beach, and jagged yet soothing post rock guitars climb. I love it so much, I wrote about it at length here if you feel inclined to explore this masterpiece further. It’s a moment that always gives Lobo what the kids refer to as “the feels”. I try to veer away from internet vernacular, but the ambiguous descriptor feels particularly appropriate in this case. Truth be told, I don’t know what it makes me feel, but I feel something. Alcest’s discography is full of moments that make me feel a wide range of emotions along the happiness and comfort spectrums, but none of them pull quite the same reaction as those “Printemps” guitars.
Countless blackgaze bands have gone on to try and recreate that ineffable Alcest magic, but most have failed. It just isn’t something that can be replicated. That “thing” is either something you have or don’t. And then 2013 happened and I heard that “thing” all over Deafheaven’s Sunbather. It’s there in the post hardcore leanings of “Dream House”. It’s in the watery guitar break of the title track and it cascades down and all around in the climax of “The Pecan Tree”. Even when Deafheaven went darker and heavier on New Bermuda it was still there presiding over the gloom like a rising sun. Stretches of beauty and catharsis are found in pretty much every Deafheaven song – it’s just who they are. Aggressive instrumentals and vocals are what make up the bulk of the track, but the climax or the come down is reserved for something gentle. But, this new track, “Canary Yellow”, is different. “Canary Yellow” is Deafheaven taking the pretty passage and making a whole song our of it. It’s that “thing”, but an enitre song.
For twelve minutes the track takes it’s time drifting along through shimmering guitar leads and calming double bass rolls and blast beats. But, none of it sounds wandering or sleepy. Like walking along the coastline, there’s a destination in mind. The track closes with George Clark screaming above group backing vocals lifting him up and repeating “My lover’s blood rushes through me/ Wild, fantastic”. It’s a communal moment about love, acceptance, and happiness and it’s by far the best thing I’ve heard all year. I’m not even sure if this qualifies as black metal anymore. I won’t even call this post-black metal. There’s been a whole lot of talk about how the upcoming album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, sounds a lot like the Smashing Pumpkins’ classic Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, but after hearing “Canary Yellow” I don’t know if I’m inclined to believe that. Instead, I think it sounds like what Deafheaven have been striving for this whole time. Listen below.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is out 7/13 on Anti.