LIVE REVIEW: Deafheaven @ Electric Ballroom, London (03/10/2019)

Credit: Corinne Shiavone

Date: October 3rd, 2019
Venue: Electric Ballroom, London
Support: Touché Amoré / Portrayal Of Guilt


Deafheaven and Touché Amoré have been friends for years. They’ve appeared in each other’s videos, designed artwork, and even promoted merch. The only thing that has never come to fruition is a tour.

Now, after almost a decade of hype and speculation, the pair have finally come together for a run across the UK and mainland Europe to give their fans what they’ve always hoped for.

Opening up, Texas trio Portrayal Of Guilt [8] deal in abrasive blackened screamo; a caustic blend which bridges the point between the formulas of both headliners. Tearing through ‘A Burden’ at blistering speed, before dragging the energy down to a crawl with the frightening ‘Chamber Of Misery, Pt. II’, the crowd are in awe of the sheer audible nihilism they’re now bearing witness.

Not a word is uttered by frontman Matt King. Songs run by in segments of two and three with the only respite marked by cascading assaults of ambient drone and harsh noise. The atmosphere of gloom is only broken once; before the band’s crushing closer, ‘Your War’.

Making their triumphant return to the UK, Touché Amoré [9] are quite possibly the most anticipated act of the night. Their now iconic debut album, ‘…To The Beat Of A Dead Horse’ recently celebrated its ten year anniversary with a re-recorded re-release, and a promise from the band to perform the album in its entirety for the remainder of 2019.

From the opening percussive clatters of ‘And Now It’s Happening In Mine’, the energy in the room totally changes. Frontman Jeremy Bolm storms the stage, claiming “There’s nothing that can shock me anymore.” The audience accepts the challenge, with the next hour feeling less like a live musical performance and more akin to a religious awakening. Tears are shed, while several swim amongst the current of moving bodies.

Album highlights ‘Honest Sleep’ and ‘Broken Records’ are screamed back at Bolm with an intensity that’s unique even for a show of this variety. With barely a second to absorb ‘…Dead Horse’ closer ‘Adieux’, the final note has barely rung out before ‘Amends’ makes itself known. From there, it’s a victory lap of highlights from the group’s discography. New single ‘Deflector’ is welcomed with open arms, while the titular track from ‘Is Survived By’ makes its first live appearance in almost five years.

The emotional intensity is briefly halted in order to wish bassist Tyler Kirby a happy birthday, and with tonight also being their biggest UK show to date, Bolm makes a heartfelt speech of sincere thanks before confirming they’ll be back in 2020 with a new album. Finishing with fan favourite ‘~’, the madness is over in just a minute. A captivating performance renders the crowd shaken, drained, and doused in sweat.

Taking to the stage with a primal yet elegant stride, Deafheaven [10] vocalist George Clarke stretches his long leg out upon the monitor, and stares hypnotically into the sea of eyes before him. The band swan dive into ‘Honeycomb’ and the sound is impeccable, with guitarist Kerry McCoy‘s leads shimmering through the hazy onslaught of black metal infused shoegaze.

Clarke moves about like a vampiric Peter Murphy, snarling with a serpentine sway, utterly lost in the performance, while the musicianship on display is, frankly, remarkable. Drummer Dan Tracy performs with the fluidity of an octopus and the precision of a machine, switching from rapid fire blast beats to complex fills, all with barely a second of pause in the monstrous ten minute epics the band have become renowned for.

‘Brought To The Water’ casts a dark cloud over the euphoric atmosphere, with the group shifting direction to some of their most aggressive and death metal inspired cuts to date. Latest single ‘Black Brick’ causes the most havoc of the entire evening, with Clarke gently twirling his fingers to the crowd in, what has to be, the most nonchalant incitement of a circle pit ever.

Following easily the heaviest and most intense moment of their set, they soften the despair with ‘Worthless Animal’, easily one of their most uplifting and inspiring cuts. The trade-off of solos between the two shredders is phenomenal, with Tracy‘s dizzying rhythmic backbone carrying the piece along.

They finish with set staple ‘Dream House’; layers of reverb drenched tremolo picking and blast beats create one final wall of complex, emotional, beautiful, ugly, distorted noise for those in attendance to absorb. A remarkable night of emotional, loud, and endearing performances by three unique, hard working bands, with a palpable sense of camaraderie and friendship.