KNITTING FACTORY ENTERTAINMENT
Deafheaven / Baroness
Deafheaven's highly anticipated fourth album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, is available now. The band’s second full-length for Anti-, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love follows 2015’s critically acclaimed New Bermuda.
Working again with producer Jack Shirley, Deafheaven have expanded their heavy, kinetic sound to bring in layered psychedelic vocals, jazz-inspired percussion, and intricate piano melodies. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love takes its title from Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, reflecting a theme of hazy, yearning romanticism threaded throughout the album.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’s lead single “Honeycomb” further reveals Deafheaven’s literary sensibilities. With its lyrics referencing Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar (author of the stream-of-consciousness novel Hopscotch), the endlessly captivating track is accompanied by a video that shows glimpses of Deafheaven in the studio and captures their wanderings around San Francisco.
Baroness' triumphant album, Purple, contains some of the biggest, brightest and most glorious riffs and choruses the adventurous rock group has ever recorded. But it also reflects a dark moment in the group's recent history: the terrifying bus crash they survived while on tour in 2012. "The band suffered a gigantic bruise," singer-guitarist John Baizley says of the accident. "It was an injury that prevented us from operating in a normal way for quite some time. Hopefully, this record is the springboard that helps us get away from all that."
Purple was released on December 18, 2015 which producer Dave Fridmann (the Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney) helmed, covers the gamut of emotions Baroness have experienced in recent years and serves as their victory cry. Purple finds a revamped lineup of the band – Baizley and Pete Adams (guitar, vocals) and new additions Nick Jost (bass, keyboards) and Sebastian Thomson (drums) – playing 10 intricately textured tunes and singing about the worry they felt immediately after the crash ("If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain”), the struggle to recover as smoothly as possible ("Chlorine & Wine") and their ongoing quest for survival ("The Iron Bell"). From its bulldozing opener "Morningstar" to the avant-garde 17-second closer "Crossroads of Infinity," the record is at once both their most emotionally threadbare and musically complex offering to date, with passages that allude to their classic-rock roots as much as their crushing metal past.
"We had a situation where a band had to rebuild itself with half-new members and an almost entirely new crew," Thomson says. "On paper that sounds like a possible recipe for disaster, but we all clicked almost immediately. We still have that attitude to this day."
Adams says only recently, since the group has gotten back on the road, he thinks that Baroness has felt like a band again. And now with Purple under their belts, Baroness are ready to take on the world. "There's a lot more playfulness now," Adams says. "Everyone now is positive, there's no heavy bullshit. People are laughing and smiling more now in Baroness than I've ever seen. That's real, and I'm thankful for that." The bruise is beginning to heal.
The rock canon has many anti-heroes, Black Mountain being the latest. In the past, Can’s 'Tago Mago' established that the only rule in rock and roll is that there are no rules. Pink Floyd’s prodigious output in the 70s showed us that architecture can be cool, while unskilled laborers Black Sabbath demonstrated you can make a lot from not that much. Now Black Mountain teach us that you don’t have to be afraid of the past to move bravely into the future, defining what it is to be a classic rock band in the new millennium. 'IV' is an unapologetically ambitious record made by a group of musicians who are at the peak of their powers.
Like nearly everything else about Zeal & Ardor, Gagneux’s discovery of his remarkable vocal style was a happy accident. His approach to songwriting now isn’t quite as unorthodox as it was in the beginning, when he was idly whipping up joke songs to appease his fellow music nerds (and to mess with trolls) on online cesspool 4Chan’s music board. As a result of a racist comment, he stumbled onto a winning combination: a purposefully unholy conflagration of African-American spirituals, chain gangs songs, the blues, and Satanic black metal that drew lines between Scandinavia and the Delta, summoning both the blasphemous evils of the North and the bloodstained history of the South. Radicalis Records in Switzerland offered to release the project’s debut full-length, Devil Is Fine, in 2016 (with the Netherlands’ Reflections Records handling a limited vinyl release), and things snowballed from there.
Since the release of his breakthrough album, Devil Is Fine, he has been the subject of much attention in the metal world, ranging from fawning praise to damning grumbles about trends and “fake” metal. As a biracial Swiss-American—born to a white Swiss father and black American mother—he falls so far outside the narrow profile of a stereotypical black metal musician that he’s even been accused of “appropriating” black metal, which is even funnier when one considers where all heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll came from in the first goddamn place: black musicians.
The past year has been a whirlwind for Gagneux and his band, with invitations to play massive festivals like Reading and Leeds colliding with offers to open for Prophets of Rage and Marilyn Manson. He’s assembled a crack music industry team of high-octane publicists and booking agents who coordinate with his manager and record labels MVKA in Brighton, UK and Radicalis in Basel, Switzerland, who have helped guide him through the pitfalls of unexpected stardom. Zeal & Ardor made its debut North American appearance at Psycho Las Vegas 2017, with a short run of tour dates tacked on, including a NYC date at heavy metal haven Saint Vitus. Now, he’s preparing to take Zeal & Ardor on the road.