Our top 10 Deafheaven songs presents the music of a very intense rock and roll band formed in the United States in 2010. The band was founded in 2010 by vocalist George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy. George and Kerry initially performed in the band Rise of Caligula. Humble beginnings describe Deafheaven’s start in the music industry. George and Kerry could barely raise five hundred dollars for recording their first demo. They didn’t even possess an amp or electric guitar having them use borrowed equipment.
After recording the demo, George and Kerry sent it to multiple blogs, where it received positive reviews. Soon, George and Kerry recruited a bassist, guitarist, and drummer to complete the band’s lineup. The new members included bassist Derek Prine, drummer Trevor Deschryver, and former Whirr guitarist Nick Bassett. Now a five-piece band, Deafheaven signed a recording contract with Deathwish Inc. The record label was founded by Jacob Bannon the vocalist of the hardcore punk band Converge.
The band released its debut album Roads to Judah (2011) under Deathwish Inc. Roads to Judah (2011) had the songs’ lyrics inspired by George Clarke’s past substance abuse and sins. The album received positive reviews making Deafheaven to be regarded as one of the best upcoming artists in 2011. Deafheaven went on tour alongside acts like KEN mode and Circles to promote its debut album. After seeing its music receive quite some following, the band decided to write new music.
Kerry revealed that the new album would feature faster, heavier, and even darker songs. The band tried to be less melancholic and less centered around the black metal. Instead, Deafheaven chose a pop and rock-driven style for the songs in Sunbather (2013). All of the songs in the album were penned by George and Kerry, with the album’s title reflecting on George’s idea of perfection.
Sunbather (2013) was critically acclaimed, peaking at number one hundred and thirty on the Billboard 200. The album also peaked at number two on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart. Deafheaven had recorded the album as a three-piece band with its members including new drummer Daniel Tracy, George, and Kerry. The band had lost all other members since its little returns from music would barely earn them decent pay. Deafheaven went on tour with No Joy, Between the Buried and Me, Pallbearer, The Kindred, and Intronaut in support of its sophomore studio album.
The band would later in 2015 sign a recording contract with Epitaph Records, where it released New Bermuda (2015). New Bermuda (2015) was tagged on Spin magazine as the twelfth best album of 2015. Three years later, Deafheaven released Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018), which saw the band reach new heights in its career. Fans and critics received the album warmly, featuring big hits such as “Honeycomb” and “Canary Yellow.”
“Honeycomb” was put to compete against “On My Teeth” by Underoath, “Condemned to the Gallows” by Between the Buried and Me, “Betrayer” by Trivium, and “Electric Messiah” by High on Fire. The song lost the award to “Electric Messiah” by High on Fire. Our top 10 Deafheaven songs bring the best releases from the band’s five studio albums.
#10 – Worthless Animal
Ushering us to the top 10 Deafheaven songs is the hit “Worthless Animal.” The song is featured on the band’s album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018). In an interview responding to questions about “Worthless Animal,” George revealed that he saw a homeless man getting attacked for holding up traffic in L.A. George felt confused and helpless about why someone would treat the mentally unstable homeless man with cruelty. “Worthless Animal” compares the cruel man to a deer eating flowers. The song is meant to emphasize empathy reminding human beings to be kind to one another.
#9 – The Gnashing
“The Gnashing” is a song from Deafheaven’s fifth studio album, Infinite Granite (2021). Like most of the songs in the album, “The Gnashing” saw the band dramatically shift from black metal to a shoegaze. Surprisingly, vocalist George Clarke doesn’t go hard in his singing, having him bring on some clean vocals. While the song and the album saw the band change its musical style, this served as a notification that Deafheaven is only trying to be nothing less than themselves.
#8 – In Blur
Once more, we revisit the band’s fifth album Infinite Granite (2021), which features the song “In Blur.” The most memorable elements in this song has to be its awe-inspiring dreamy guitar riffs and George’s washed-out vocals. “In Blur” features a gauzy accompanying video directed by John Bradburn. The five-and-a-half-minute ballad is a mind-blowing meditation on the Greek myth of Sisyphus.
#7 – Black Brick
“Black Brick” is a stand-alone single by the band whose release received no promotions or marketing. The song’s release coincided with the band’s US tour with Baroness. Critics praised “Black Brick” for being one of the heaviest Deafheaven songs to date. Without a doubt, the song is a gut-ripper that finds the band going full metal.
#6 – Dream House
Number six on our top 10 Deafheaven songs is the ballad “Dream House.” The song is featured on the band’s album Sunbather (2013). “Dream House” alludes to a conversation that vocalist George had with a girl he was in love with. Drummer and percussionist Daniel Tracy added some dexterity to the band’s preferred beats in this song. “Dream House” serves as an impressive prologue to Sunbather (2013), an album that blends shoegaze, post-rock, and black metal elements.
#5 – Great Mass of Colour
“Great Mass of Colour” is an awe-inspiring ballad from the band’s album Infinite Granite (2021). Vocalist George Clarke revealed that the song alludes to sleeplessness during the early-morning blue hour. He continued to say that the song’s lyrics reflect boyhood thoughts, specifically, what it means to become a man while looking up to other men in the society to understand the path of being a man even better.
#4 – You Without End
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018) saw the band prominently utilize clean vocals and guitar solos that remind us of classic metal acts such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath. All these elements are present in the song “You Without End.” “You Without End” is a love song to the deceased that is framed by piano chords a sparkling slide guitar. The gentle solos by Kerry add some glamour to the song’s overall feel.
#3 – Brought to the Water
“Brought to the Water” is one of the best Deafheaven songs from the band’s album New Bermuda (2015). The songs allude to starting afresh and the challenges accompanied by this choice. Vocalist George Clarke revealed in an interview that the song was written about living with a partner and watching the relationship undergo change. The song forms the basis for the band’s new sound in the album New Bermuda (2015).
#2 – Canary Yellow
Deafheaven released a psychedelic-laced hit for their album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018) under the title “Canary Yellow.” The twelve-minute song allows the band to showcase its melodic backing vocals and instrumental textures. Vocalist George Clarke revealed that the song is about living on other people’s memory on an Instagram post. The song opens in a calm melodic vibe, eventually bursting into its heavy yet perfectly controlled tune.
#1 – Honeycomb
Number one on our top 10 Deafheaven songs list is the hit “Honeycomb.” The song is featured on the band’s album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018). “Honeycomb” results from the Deafheaven’s layering of an exquisite and gauzy black metal sound since the band’s inception. With the song, Deafheaven proved to be one of the few boundary-breaking acts in the metal scene. Relentless drumming and crunching guitar sounds add glamour to this ballad, making it the best Deafheaven song of all time. The song was nominated for the Grammy Awards for the Best Metal Performance in 2019 but lost to “Electric Messiah” by High on Fire. “Honeycomb” was the first Deafheaven song to be nominated for a Grammys.
Feature Photo: Pablo Youngs, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Deafheaven Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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