Deafheaven - Infinite Granite
Shoegaze, Post-Metal
9 songs (53:30)
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

The fifth album from these San Franciscans has been heralded as a decisive break from their black metal-tinged past, a step towards a purer shoegaze sound. And it kind of is, a largely harsh vocal-free burst of post-metal melodies that is the closest thing yet to the mainstream Deafheaven that critics have always accused them of being. Sunbather will always be their moment of infamy, neither of the following New Bermuda or Ordinary Corrupt Human Love managing to live up to its tectonic impact on the underground scene, and so an album like Infinite Granite has surely been the expectation for awhile. Yet now it's arrived, even mainstream outlets like Pitchfork are damning it with faint praise, talking about the loss of emotional resonance and criticising the sameyness of songs. Welcome to the team! Apparently the realisation that limiting your palette will make the resulting painting less colourful is a tough one for certain music reviewers...!

And yet, you can see and hear what the band's intention with Infinite Granite was. Interviews have seen Deafheaven comparing themselves to Radiohead and Sonic Youth rather than more underground metal touchstones, and it's far easier to see the Ride in this album than the Alcest of past references. And the band seem to be at ease with the thought of losing one set of fans to gain another, although it's hard to see who exactly they are trying to appeal to with Infinite Granite. You could even call it a mainstream record thanks to moments like opener Shellstar's melodic and entirely radio-friendly sound, inviting and enveloping with clean vocals and barely even a heavy drumbeat until the second minute, guitars a shapeless textural wash that wipe down your ears.

Sure, the layers grow more complex here and there, and instrumentally the band are as superb as ever, particularly drummer Daniel Tracy who makes tracks like In Blur far better. Yet much of Infinite Granite passes you by in an almost repetitive way, not much standing out beyond a vague air of pleasantness and the odd hint of past glories like the distant echoes of screams in Great Mass of Colour, building into a solidly melodic peak but not truly surpassing itself with that added blackened roar. That's a consistent problem throughout the album, particularly once you reach finale Mombasa, one of the best tracks present by miles. It opens with acoustic strums, building soulfully through its eight minute running time to blackened layers of torrential sound, ending all too suddenly just as it's grasping at greatness.

Compared to that, the likes of Neptune Raining Diamonds' ambience and even relative highlights like Lament for Wasps seem very second-rate, truly lacking that added bit of colour to the painting that would truly push it upwards. It doesn't help that George Clarke's clean singing voice is pleasant but hardly remarkable for the genre, at its best when a falsetto on the good albeit far too restrained Villains, again, barely allowing some black metal screeches through at the end. Some would accuse the band of being downright obtuse as a result of listening to this, the metallic-adjacent The Gnashing setting up a post-rock build well and hinting at what this album could have been, for instance. Yet Infinite Granite is an album that both disappoints and promises, suggests future glories while it snatches immediate ones away; it's a perfectly acceptable release from Deafheaven, but will annoy most readers who have heard of that band before. Good, promising greatness, but not delivering.

Killing Songs :
In Blur, The Gnashing, Mombasa
Goat quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Deafheaven that we have reviewed:
Deafheaven - Sunbather reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Deafheaven - Roads to Judah reviewed by Charles and quoted 83 / 100
Deafheaven - Demo reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
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