Deafheaven – ‘10 Years Gone’

By James Lillywhite

The music industry is in a tough place at the moment, and bands have been forced to try new and innovative things to get around not being able to tour. Lots of artists have turned to online streams as a way of performing for fans, while others have put out new albums, EPs, and solo records that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise. 

Deafheaven have tried to do the best of both worlds. Like countless other bands, their touring plans were halted because of the pandemic – in a non-Covid world, they were supposed to be playing shows to celebrate their ten year anniversary as a band. But obviously that wasn’t to be. 

Instead, they have released ‘10 Years Gone’, a live recording of the set they were meant to play on the road. It features tracks from across their career – from the first song they ever wrote, ‘Daedalus’, up to their brilliant 2018 album ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’.

That these songs meld so well together is a testament to what a great band Deafheaven are. While you can tell the difference between their older, more black metal influenced material, and the newer, more expansive tracks, jumping between the styles never feels jarring. 

But while these songs are all great individually, ‘10 Years Gone’ does feel a little unnecessary as a full length LP. It’s over 70 minutes long – and it feels it. These songs would have made for a brilliant live show, and they probably could have worked really well as a live stream too. As an album, though, it doesn’t offer very much new to the listener. It feels more like a playlist or a ‘best of’ compilation than anything else.

The live-recording aspect doesn’t add much either. The band sound as tight as ever, so much so that it’s easy to forget it was recorded live at all, especially as there is no crowd to add to the ambience. That sound is a great credit to the band, especially when they write such long, complex songs – and while it is exciting to hear these songs performed live, that alone doesn’t feel enough to justify it as an artistic choice.

‘10 Years Gone’ serves as a reminder of how great Deafheaven are; it makes you appreciate what a brilliant decade they’ve had and raises excitement about the possibility of new material, but unfortunately, that’s about it. It is all too clearly a stop-gap album, trying to fill the tour-shaped hole in the band’s schedule. Super fans will enjoy it – for everyone else, you’d be better off listening to any of their excellent studio albums from a near-flawless back catalogue.

JAMES LILLYWHITE

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