“Gleaming and Empty”: The Refulgent Darkness of Deafheaven

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Imagine heaven. Now, imagine heaven bereft of God and His Angels. Now, imagine a heaven that cannot hear your prayers. Imagine Deafheaven. There’s something ineffably serene about the pure nothingness of a heaven uncreated and infinitely emptied of deities, dogma, and the suffocating clichés of biblical tradition. Such is the universe evoked in the music of Deafheaven, a San Francisco-based black metal band that recently released New Bermuda (2015), a much-anticipated follow-up to their seminal 2013 debut Sunbather. I caught them live for the first time at the Crescent Ballroom, which is located in downtown Phoenix, AZ, on Wednesday, November 18. While I enjoyed the entire set, I was especially anxious to see them perform their 2014 single “From the Kettle Onto the Coil.” This, more than any of their other compositions, symbolizes the sublime vistas of energy, light, and sound, which are bound together by the blackness—and emptiness—of space.

 As I tiptoed off the plane of existence,

And drifted listlessly through the velvet blackness of oblivion,

I am what I always was,

Gleaming and empty.

Seeing Deafheaven live was truly a transforming experience. Whereas for many metal bands, their references to the darkness are often comic—rendering “Satan” or “the Devil” like a mischievous child—in the case of Deafheaven, I really felt that they believed in the world that they so effectively sing about, which is even more evident in their live performance. I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as I did making it.

 

 

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