Sunbather - Deafheaven
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 271 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 30 out of 271

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  1. Jun 12, 2013
    I've honestly never heard anything like this. Granted, I'm not as seasoned in metal, but it skews more post-rock than anything. That being said, as an album, this is truly a remarkable effort from a group that has something interesting to say. There's a lot of complex songwriting, and enough of a dynamic experience that this is as an accessible of a challenge any newcomers are ever going to find. One of the best of the year. Expand
  2. Jun 12, 2013
    Getting sick and tired of close minded Black Metal 'fans' that wouldn't recognize good music if it came and bit them on the ass. How on earth would you rate an album as intense, original and beautifully lous a "0" is beyond me and those of you who made seperate accounts to vote it down should get a life. Now to the actual review. This is an album that is so well thought out, so well played, so beautifully paced and just screams (quite literally) an entire spectrum of emotions at its listeners, it defies belief.
    There is so much to be gained from repeat listenings, so much hidden in the layers of sound, such craftmanship in the recordings that it is almost weird you can still hear the fun the musicians had while making it. There is so much passion oozing out of the grooves, so much love for music and such originality that I cannot think any other release will top this in 2013.
  3. Jun 11, 2013
    Regardless of what genre this album is, the fact remains that it is an astonishingly gorgeous release that ranks among 2013's best. Simultaneously accessible and challenging, this record brings in the spacey brilliance of Post-rock acts with the addition of pained harsh vocals, the murky haze of shoegaze, and the fast-moving tempo of percussion techniques previously used within black metal. With such a mixed bag of influences, it is hard to define exactly what Sunbather is. If you read interviews with the band, they claim that Deafheaven merely aims to be Deafheaven. In this melting pot of a musical era that we live in, this is a perfectly acceptable sentiment; bands are allowed to question labels and simply make the music that they desire. In the case of Sunbather, it is clear that there is a looming sense of beauty and emotional urgency that desires escape via music. Resulting from this emotion is an evidently controversial instance of beautiful music that is incredibly well-executed. On a technical level, the album is nearly perfect. I don't think there was a better manner in which this album could have been recorded and produced. In addition to this, the songs (and the album itself) are structured into intriguing forms, defying traditional structures and surprising the ear at times. Sometimes, the most important releases are somewhat hard to define or accept. Will Deafheaven usher in an era of harshly-influenced post-rock? Maybe. Maybe not. Only one way to find out. I, for one, am excited to see what happens.

    Genres change. Music evolves. Question labels and genres. Listen for yourself. Listen to Sunbather with open ears and bask in its richness.
  4. Jun 18, 2013
    One of the best records this year for sure. Regardless of genre.
    It plays like a huge metal symphony: elegant, intelligent & furious.
    The negative user reviews reek of close mindedness & a lack of understanding.
  5. Kas
    Jun 12, 2013
    Yo, do yourself a favor and ignore the comments and user score because it's all just a bunch of reactionary and amateur-level trolling. I'm guessing Sunbather will end up between 80 to 90 once all the reviews come in, so I'm rounding up to 9 to correct for the trolls. Hey, if album-ratings politics is your thing then you'll get a kick out of this thread, but if you don't want to take anyone's word for it which you have every right not to then maybe you should, I dunno, LISTEN TO THE GODDAMN ALBUM. Expand
  6. Jun 14, 2013
    I've never heard an album like this is truly unique and has a certain attraction that I like, is an exquisitely produced album. Sunbather flows like air, is a long drive but it is a fast album, trances toughest interspersed perfectly. You may drop them sticks everywhere, but I think Deatfheaven deserves a big opportunity to shine with his music and I think everyone should take the opportunity to listen. Expand
  7. Jun 17, 2013
    I made an account just to review this album. It is hardly deserving of the numerous 0's it is receiving by the users. Please note that anyone who gives this album a 0 is either a troll or a very closed minded person who does not appreciate/understand black metal. For this reason, while I normally would've given the album a 9, I gave it a 10 to balance out the reviews.

    This work is truly
    an emotional masterpiece-it brought tears to my eyes the first time that I heard it. It cannot be described in words; it can only be felt. So do yourself a favor and go listen to it/buy it and support these artists and their incredible work of art. Expand
  8. Jun 18, 2013
    Ugh; already reactionary bad reviews are piling on. Guess I'll add to the fire in hopes of nullifying all the super low votes which are obviously just backlash garbage reviews based on their brevity. So it's not quite "Black Metal" but it has it's dense and heavy moments which even with some fairly technical playing can be kind of jarring in a chaotic kind of way the first few listen through's. It's not quite "Post-Rock" with all the eagle screeching which you come to expect from Black Metal, but it has the ebb and flow of a compacted GY!BE album and definitely doesn't drown the sound out with double bass which I can dig. I'm more a fan of the post rock side of that equation but I can appreciate what these guys accomplished here and do find it fills a unique niche If that sounds interesting to you, check it out. I know some people do generally dislike this kind of music but those aren't the kind of people that write garbage reviews like the negative ones here; those reviewers are trying to tell the reader how they're cooler than whats cool and how we're all sheep for liking something that was reviewed so well. Get a life guys. mumubare any review of a band's MUSIC, that starts by critiquing it's ALBUM ART is already too pretentious to read beyond that point. Deafheaven are the musicians who made the music here, not the cover art, geez. Expand
  9. Jun 14, 2013
    An incredible release. Deafheaven continues to evolve. Roads to Judah was a masterpiece and Sunbather is no different. Cannot wait to hear what these guys do next.
  10. Jun 13, 2013
    I'm just reviewing this so the user score goes up. This is an incredible album that fully deserves the score it is getting from the critics. This is dope
  11. Jun 21, 2013
    As someone who loathes metal, I have no idea how this album appeals to me, but it does. Love the post-rock feel. The "singer", who just screams through the entire album is somehow compatible with the music. Yet I still question whether or not the album would work better if the lead singer of the band used a less death-metal style of vocals.
  12. Jun 22, 2013
    One of the best of the year. The instrumentation and pacing of the album are just incredible. If you don't normally like metal, seriously give this one a go (especially if you like My Bloody Valentine, the shoegaze feel to the album is a big positive).
  13. Jun 13, 2013
    Kevin Shields must be irritated, because after waiting for years and years to release the new My Bloody Valentine record he got one-upped by Deafheaven. I'm not a big black metal fan, and don't particularly care about genre tags or "real" metal, but I am a huge fan of this record. Just massive. Beautifully layered guitars, and surprisingly adept drumming. More tone poems than songs, but well worth a listen. Expand
  14. Jun 24, 2013
    I really wasn't sure what to expect from this album going into it. With the critics just fawning over the product, especially with the "Black Metal" label, made me curious to listen to it but not go out of my way to do so. Therefore, I left this sitting in my Spotify queue for the past week or two.

    This was not what I expected. It's an interesting fusion between black metal and
    post-rock. Melodic, raw, and powerful sum up this release. I do recommend giving it a try as I believe it is a good record. The more I think and listen to it, perhaps the potential exists for it to become a great record, canonical for a more mainstream version of this genre of music, but I have yet to be convinced. All said, it's a fun one. Expand
  15. Jun 17, 2013
    I never knew such a thing could exist but I personally believe this is a perfect album. A great mixture of 90's screamo/Post Hardcore/Speed Metal/Black Metal. Lyrically phenominal. I've played it over and over and it never gets old. 10/10
  16. Jun 11, 2013
    First time I've been able to really enjoy blackened metal, though I don't even think you can call it that. It's like My Bloody Valentine meets Kvelertak, with some Hammock-like ambient/post-rock thrown in for good measure. Rest-assured though, this is more clever than just a mix of styles. It's really upbeat, even epic sounding and despite the technical styling of black metal that they apply to their music, it's overall mood doesn't exactly scream depression and/or hatred.

    Overall, this is something that anyone who likes various post-rock, shoegaze, or metal NEEDS to listen to at some point. I think you'll be surprised.
  17. Jun 14, 2013
    I don't know if this music even has a genre. Some songs are pretty slow with weird samples, but the others reach instrumental perfection, coming from a fan of post-rock and post-hardcore. But it is definitely neither of those. It is something else entirely, and you will need a very open mind to stomach it. Once accessed though, it is the most powerful music you'll ever experience in years. Just don't expect any lyrical value. This is chaos unravelled. Expand
  18. Jun 28, 2013
    Incredible album. Its as if angels decided to try black metal, of all genres. But its amazing. Record of the year so far hands down.
    To all the black metal purists out there, I understand that you feel the need to defend your genre, but just because this isn't one of your Norwegian old school black metal bands doesn't mean you need to bash it. Deafheaven is not trying to be straight up
    black metal. It is what it is. Expand
  19. Jun 21, 2013
    My favorite album of the year. If you are not predisposed to extreme music, best give it some listens before buying. But if you are adventurous, the type of album that rewards repeated listens.
  20. Jun 25, 2013
    Best record in at least 10 years, maybe longer. Period. Listen for yourself. If you're not moved, check that, if you're not blown away by every aspect of this record, then you'd better check yourself for a pulse to make sure your still alive. Finally, some "NEW" stuff.
  21. Jun 29, 2013
    This is a breakthrough album along the lines of Husker Du's Zen Arcade. Yes, the skinhead purists of the American hardcore scene shouted "sellout" in the summer of 1984 when the Minneapolis trio released that sonic masterpiece, changing forever the landscape of American punk rock. Sunbather transcends genres and subgenres. It is thrash that is both melodic and intense with chord changes that recall Unforgettable Fire/Joshua Tree era U2. Deafheaven emerges from the black metal underground with a record that would also be at home on Will Johnson's or Glenn Branca's turntable. Expand
  22. Jan 30, 2014
    Just because you are not a fan of a genre does not mean the album isn't good. These 0's that this album is getting are ridiculous. This is one of the best albums of 2013. It is a beautiful mix between post-rock and black metal. I seriously suggest people that cant get past the screaming vocals try to look past them and hear the music that is already washing out the vocals anyways.
  23. Feb 25, 2014
    Never heard this band before until I saw Sunbather's metacritic score and it lit my interest. I've been listening to black metal, death metal etc for over 15 years so I've heard pretty much it all.. but Deafheaven was something different.. It was a crossover between Darkthrone and Oasis, which both I liked very much.. well, Darkthrone not so much but still.. Since the first song of Sunbather started to play, I was sold.. It just was so great and all those great reviews are earned. Expand
  24. Jun 15, 2013
    Lots of genre junkies will hate this because it is not purely this or that. Don't fuss so much guys, open your mind and ears and just listen to the complexity, beauty and skill offered by Deafheaven on this new release.
  25. Jul 4, 2013
    For anyone who loves traditional black metal AND post rock. If you're a fan of Burzum and also a fan of Explosions in the Sky, I recommend this album.
  26. Jul 24, 2013
    The best album of the year with post punk and heavy metal sounds......I generally do not prefer listening tracks that last over 6 min but the tracks in this album are intriguing and exceptional.
  27. Jun 13, 2013
    "Sunbather" is a stimulating, brilliant record that does an impressive job at keeping a dense, vibrant atmosphere while also blending other genres and influences.
  28. Jun 13, 2013
    The layered guitar tracks, heavy hitting drums, shrieking vocals and ultimately rich production is what makes Sunbather the densest and most intense sounding record to come out this year (so far).
  29. Jun 19, 2013
    I wouldn't call any Black Metal fans purists anymore, give me a break. Any good genre should strive to evolve and become more intricate. I have a pretty solid background in all sorts of metal, and music in general. I listen to everything from mainstream to super unknown locals acts. I will tell you, if you're open minded to something new, this is a great album to start with. Black Metal has been having an interesting resurgence lately and attracting a whole new group of fans. Personally I think Black Metal was due for something new. It had always been beautiful, acts like Alcest make a great example of going for the beautiful side of Black Metal. The guitars on this album switch between your general black metal speed, with absolutely gorgeous slow sections. The vocals also blend nicely into the wall of sound Deafheaven has instilled. It's a truly great new Black Metal album, anyone who denounces for the reasons of "purist" is probably a close minded moron whose opinion is mute. It's good stuff, give it a chance. Expand
  30. Jul 2, 2013
    I had never heard of Deafheaven before, but I feel like I've been waiting for this album for years.

    A necessary redirection of instrumental post-rock, combined with the welcome recent resurface of shoegazing. Jaw-dropping.
  31. Jul 4, 2013
    From post-hardcore guitars to metal drums to elegant piano-- it is a wonderful collage of genres narrated by George's screaming voice. Excellent. Listen and re-listen.
  32. Aug 13, 2013
    Sunbather is a masterpiece that somehow manages to be crushingly heavy and ethereally beautiful for the entire 60 minutes that it lasts. It's very nature is polarizing, and I wouldn't say this album is accessible, even to fans of the genres it takes takes its influence from. It's not necessarily a new idea either, but it provides some of the most epic moments I've heard in recent memory. The title track stands out especially with it's airy beginning and the shift in the middle of the song that absolutely explodes into apocalyptic fury. The slower moments in between the heavier tracks don't have a lot to say on their own, but really tie the album together nicely as a whole. The greatest strength of the album is scope and ambition, as it takes quite a few listens to swallow, but will give you still give you goosebumps after the 20th time you've listened to it. Easily the best album of 2013 so far, and I don't see it being beat. Expand
  33. Dec 29, 2013
    As the other reviews, and my own personal experience, infer, Sunbather is an impossible album to classify as one specific kind of music. Though the screamed vocal and pounding guitars suggest their earlier black metal, the slowed down moments of the album are clearly more attuned to post-rock like Tortoise, and the wall-of-sound feel of a majority of the album suggests shoegazing in the vein of My Bloody Valentine. However, one thing that is certain is that this album is one of the most unique and emotionally intense (almost too much so) additions to metal ever, and is hopefully the sign of a new movement in metal music to bring to a new level of art (since, in my opinion, most metal now barely qualifies as music, much less art). If I was to describe this album to someone interested, the only comparison I could possibly think of is that it like Explosions in the Sky if they released a heavy metal album. Expand
  34. Jul 27, 2013
    Metal for non metal fans. Metal for open-minded fans of metal. Sweeping, majestic, delicate, beautiful, painful, haunting, violent, visceral: everything a forward-thinking metal album should be.
  35. Feb 19, 2014
    Wonderful album. Meant to be taken as a whole. Vocals are great and it's a great listen all the way through. Along with The Mire, my favorite metal album of 2013 onward. People hating on Sunbather probably don't understand the concept or sound of the album.

    Hate on, while we listen with glee.
  36. Dec 20, 2013
    It's annoying seeing people rating this album while prefacing "Was never a big fan of metal to begin with" blah blah blah. Then what were you expecting?
  37. Sep 22, 2014
    Deafheaven have obviously created one of the most controversial records on Metacritic—which is saying a lot, considering it's not by an allegedly 'washed-up' metal band or some album in the top 40. However, Sunbather deserves to be talked about. A lot. Even today. It's magnificent record to take in, whether you end up on its side or on the opposite. It has us talking and that's all that's important—at least there's something there to discuss.

    Let's get one thing out of the way: Sunbather isn't the first album conceptual art metal album on the market and it's certainly not Deafheaven's first time experimenting with this kind of sound. Their EP Roads to Judah was when the group gave us a vision into what we'd see in the future, however, we didn't expect it to be Sunbather, something so groundbreaking and well-detailed in a genre that began to lose its shine. George Clarke's faint yet deep-and-drenched-in-emotion screams haunt on every track. ("I'm dying"/"Is is blissful?"/"It's like a dream"/"I want to dream") The opening 9-minute rock opera "Dream House" has a finale that'll raise the goosebumps on even the most conservative of music listeners.

    The shoegazing influences are ingrained throughout the album like a forest; "Please Remember" is easily one of the most surprisingly ambitious and climactic highlights on the record, with its spoken word dialogue—which you should Google the words to as soon as possible if you want even more goosebumps—and seemingly lost musical composition of backwards guitar loops and a piledriving mechanic-esque noise that eventually dissolve into another beautiful acoustic moment. You'll find a lot of unexpected twists and turns on this album, despite using the same formula throughout: loud, humming guitars, seemingly time signature-less drums, and Clarke's screams leading into melancholy instrumental moments and spoken word speeches.

    Sunbather isn't for everyone and it'll have haters by the numbers, whether it's from the metalheads who refuse to buy into the hype or your mother simply saying, "It's still just screaming to me, turn it off!" But when an album creates that much controversy and develops that much of an interest from music listeners everywhere, you know it's more than word-of-mouth that drew them in and caused a reaction. But for my own opinion, I'm gonna call Sunbather a masterpiece. If I wanted to hate on it to sound 'unique' or love it to sound, again, 'unique', I wouldn't go into so much—still minimal compared to much, much better reviews written here, both good and bad—detail trying to explain why it is in fact one of the greatest albums in recent years.
  38. Jul 11, 2013
    "I'm dying"
    "Is it blissful?"
    "It's like a dream"
    "I want to dream"
    Deafheaven accomplished that goal, for me at least; this album is a dream. "Sunbather" is required listening, begging to be played at the loudest possible volume--Spinal Tap's mythical "11" setting. This work is the literal definition of awesome: a thing that inspires awe.
  39. Jul 26, 2013
    Sunbather is the best album of this year, period.

    Sunbather is a unique and amazing black metal album that I truly enjoyed. With beautiful and rock hard beats that created a symphony of Black Metal in your ears, Sunbather proves to be an album that creates melodies that even I, a person who is not a fan of Black Metal, enjoys. That is saying something. Sunbather is a great album that
    even people who aren't fans of Black metal should listen to. Expand
  40. Aug 23, 2013
    This is an amazing album. A band that gives us a new and excellent sound, an epic album with epic soundscapes that are beautiful and complex. It's one of the best albums of this excellent year for music.
  41. Oct 22, 2013
    Instead of barraging listeners with a bunch of musical odysseys, the band breaks up their signature post-black metal songs with more post-rock and shoegaze interludes and influences.[With a] great mix of genres, awesome lyricism, impressive production and another reason to keep Deafheaven under the radar. Probably one of the Top 10 albums of the year, Sunbather, presents itself as one of the least accessible albums of the year. Open up to it and you won't regret it. One day when everyone looks back, Sunbather will be heralded as a modern classic, a beautiful symphony. It's what Deafheaven orchestrates that makes the entire project so enthralling, engaging, triumphant and yet it's haunting and angelic. To better put it, it's a masterpiece. Expand
  42. Jan 3, 2014
    It's a deep experience listening to this music. Instead of thinking about genres if this is black-metal, post-rock or whatever, you'd better to feel so intense experience about dark and light, about music always rebuilding, about screams that really sound in a lot of moods.

    Music to listen out of prejudices. Maybe it's a real new path to run for old genres.
  43. Jan 4, 2014
    Black metal. The only difference, it is ARMONIC Black Metal, and that is joyfull to hear. Deafheaven just means future and a new way of looking music for every single genre
  44. Mar 21, 2014
    I'll never get tired of hearing subtle melodies overlapping the harsh black metal screams in this type of music. Death heaven is one of those bands ill be keeping an eye on.
  45. Apr 9, 2014
    This album evades classification. To simply call it "black-metal" would be reductive, as this album utilizes shoegaze and post-rock sounds. Sunbather features complex, sophisticated song structures and oppressive guitars that the vocals struggle against. The vocals are very similar to those of Converge. In essence, this is a great album. Black metal may form the skeleton, but the album is fleshed out with a range of other genres making it a wildly experimental album. Expand
  46. Jul 7, 2014
    this album is great, every song is well recorded and all the ambient of the songs is just amazing.
    This album rocks! All the circle-jerking black metal elitists are jealous, your genre has been hijacked by Deafheaven.
  47. Jun 2, 2014
    This album is something else. When I thought I didn't like metal music, this started to ease me into it. Every main track has a melody to it and they all climb constantly, never slowing down or losing strength. And the interludes have this perfect and possessive quality that is almost like your in some drugged up movie scene. I honestly love this album. It is a lot of noise that is pushed together and distorted into this trance like tune that seems to never end until the very last track of the album. A wild ride of strong melodies and screams that fit it so well, I seem to have fallen in love with it. Expand
  48. Jun 15, 2014
    I've noticed that this album has totally polarized critics and fans. In my opinion, this is the best album of 2013, and the best album ever released since Converge's legendary Jane Doe. With that said, I feel like the audience is the reason for only an 8.0 on this album. The audience tends to be more of the hipsters who like indie/rock. From the consensus I've gathered, people love the beautiful instrumentals but don't seem to like the vocals. That is the only problem here. Why is society THAT closed-minded? And needless to say, they all gave the album 0s for that. Okay, rant over, I will explain why I think this album deserves a 10. This album is an emotional roller coaster. The lyrics are some of the darkest/saddest/emotional lyrics I've ever heard. They alone should garner a good rating on this album. Okay, for the instrumentals, they are AWESOME. The inclusion of 3 interludes between each song is genius. It helps the album flow well and gives you a moment to get yourself together/brace yourself for the next song and the feelings associated with the fore coming song. Their drummer is an absolute beast. The guitar is meant to sound the same in most songs because it's Shoegazing music. Shoegazing is known for walls of distorted guitar riffs. It's not because of lack of talent. It's just the type of music they're making. The vocals are meant to be indistinguishable from the instruments. This is a type of symbolism. The album is dealing with issues and depression and how people just want to blend in and be perfect and no different from anyone else. The vocals are symbolic in that sense that they blend into the perfect family. This is not a production issue, and to me, I wouldn't want the vocals any other way. The album cover is also symbolism and it's also ironic. It's the colors people see when looking into the sun. Although the album is dark and emotional, it's a symbol to look up and be optimistic in your endeavors. Personally "The Pecan Tree" is probably my favorite song because I can definitely relate to the lyrics. I cannot put into words how awesome this album is. So with all of this said, take all things into consideration. Don't nitpick at the album. Take it for what it is. Listen to it with a great set of headphones. And do this on a day whenever you have the time to enjoy this from start to finish. Don't listen to individual songs. Appreciate this as a whole album. And for the love of god, stop with the closed-minded 1s and 0s. I'm sure many of you never even listened to this album and therefore should not be able to rate it! Sunbather is a modern classic Expand
  49. Aug 26, 2014
    There is no album I've ever listened to that delivered on every level possible. It's not really metal but as a fan of bands like Russian Circles, I loved it! Musically, it's unmatched in atmosphere. The chords echo in your head for hours after you've finished the whole album. It's tragic, yet beautiful. The vocals, clawed, yet suitable to the feel of Sunbather. ALL these elements combined create the most atmospheric post-rock album in history. Sunbather is my pick, as well as many other critics' pick for album of 2013. Anyone who dismissed this album based on the "Hipster Metal" label was really missing out. Expand

Universal acclaim - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Dec 2, 2013
    Sunbather is an emotionally overwhelming but truly absorbing listen. But best of all, it’s cleansing.
  2. Aug 12, 2013
    The mood stays ominous, even as sonic details thrill headphone-equipped headbangers.
  3. Jul 3, 2013
    Many bands go through their entire career without making an album as well crafted, fully realized, and downright gorgeous as Sunbather, and somehow, Deafheaven have managed to nail it on their second outing, with an album that seems to get bigger and more affective with each listen.