Gig review: Deafheaven at Leeds University Stylus

Deafheaven. Picture: Kristen Cofer
Deafheaven. Picture: Kristen Cofer
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The bass amp expires from the extreme punishment at some point during Dream House but no one really notices (except the roadie hastily diving to defibrillate it before the end of the song).

That’s because it is the song where Deafheaven’s unlikely but inspired fusion of intense, cathartic metal with the lush, melodic guitars of shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine fully ignites into the glorious noise that the band patented on breakthrough album Sunbather and the crowd goes deservedly bonkers.

Promoted from the Brudenell to the larger Leeds University venue, the US quintet are welcome visitors to the North of England, where one suspects a lot of the non-metal side of their record collection originates - witness the Smiths jangle on the outro of Brought To The Water and the goth-y guitars that open Baby Blue.

Deafheaven in the flesh embody their genre-defying sound - the main architect of their mighty wall of riffs, guitarist Kerry McCoy, is a mild-mannered chap in a Radiohead T-shirt while, by contrast, frontman George Clarke is an imposing black-clad figure, striking rock-god poses with his mic stand and thrashing his fringe while emitting those demonic, goolies-dipped-in-magma shrieks that lead Deafheaven’s sonic assault.

Kicking off with a selection from recent album New Bermuda, they thunder through seven-minute epics that seamlessly evolve from chugging thrash to reflective comedown and back. But it’s the closing run from Sunbather that reasserts the power of that record, blending light and dark, melody and sandblasting noise in a way few, if any, rock bands have equalled in recent years. Escaping its shadow may prove a challenge in the long run, but there are worse albatrosses to have slung round your (frantically headbanging) neck.

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