I think it no joke that the Bay Area produces among the best American black metal out there. Deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage are shining examples of this. The former plays a thoughtful, atmospheric blend of black metal and shoegaze, flavored with powerviolence and hardcore. The latter spins the genre on its head, infusing uncommon craftsmanship for a sound unlike any other.
This split is one of the best I’ve ever heard and that’s not just because I’m very partial to Deafheaven’s music. Both tracks refuse to be boring, instead entrancing the user with grandiose passages that are as gentle as they are violent. This is the music fans who have not heard prior material are won with, such ear-catching beauties one cannot help but just gawk wide-eyed at their majestic darkness. Now on to the songs.
Deafheaven has yet to do something that dismays, even with their first new track since “Roads to Judah” being a Mogwai cover. The thing is though is that Mogwai is already great and Deafheaven takes “Punk Rock” and “Cody” and melds them into a seamless, deliriously beautiful ten minutes. Deafheaven’s take on “Cody” opens poignantly, taking its time with tenderness. Once they really kick in it is nothing short of triumphant. Delicate riffs spin in and around each other, rooted by the unyielding tempo behind the kit. The guitars and bass push their strings to the limit, channeling all manner of elegance and fury. At 7:20 the melody surges to a celestial crescendo, a moment that might be one of favorites ever put forth by Deafheaven. Lesage lurks in the background, howling, screeching his heart out like a lamented specter, cementing “Punk Rock/Cody’s” ghostly spell. Following a brief respite, Deafheaven rises up in a blast beaten mania accompanied by a flurry of dreamy chords and forlorn screeches.
Bosse-de-Nage’s track, “A Mimesis of Purpose,” is “holy shit” worthy. With an opening reminiscent of “Like Gods of the Sun” era My Dying Bride, Bosse-de-Nage melds wispy violins with a militant beat that is all but abruptly decapitated with a swell of icy riffs and agonizing screams. “Mimesis” piqued my interest with its primal drumwork that one would think clashed with the song’s generally esoteric sound. Instead we are blessed with a sound of savage intelligence. Bosse-de-Nage consistently push the envelope on this song, refusing to maintain itself while never succumbing to outright chaos. Instead light and heavy embrace each other amid a hellish whirlwind, where choruses of scream and voice call out like lost souls denied salvation. “Mimesis” reeks of a life without purpose that continues its search for meaning in the face of overwhelming cruelty and underwhelming love.