As far as black metal goes, there aren’t many one-man projects that come close to Deafest in terms of quality and replay value. Sure you got your Xasthur’s and Burzum’s, and although they’ve inspired many artists to take the single musician approach, Deafest takes things in a different direction. Their music takes you a journey of solitude as you explore the vast wonders of nature, from tall mountain peaks, dark forests, and beautiful landscapes. Their music has always felt adventurous, and with their newest album in about 5 years, they’re reaching mountain tops many dare not tread.
As a whole, Deafest has always dealt with nature as its primary theme. The music is instrumental for the most part, and tries to immerse the listener into a journey out in the wilderness. It wouldn’t be doubtful that the projects mastermind Chase Ambler enjoys long walks through these peripheral landscapes, and instead of taking dumb ass selfies he expresses himself through this project.
Releasing material like various splits with bands like Starless Night, Schrei aus Stein, and Wendess, as well as EP’s and demo’s since 2008, Deafest has tweaked and perfected it’s sound to evolve into what it is, and finally the project really sits in a comfortable spot as it has found its full meaning and purpose, both in terms of themes and atmosphere.
The first album, titled Weakened, was sort of less flattering version of your typical Striborg release. The production was raw, but it didn’t add any ambiance to the music but instead just sounded like a barrage of instruments clashing together; it was all over the place. The drums were way too loud, the pacing was boring, and the albums attempt to capture those precious moments of despair while treading through dark forests just wasn’t there. Clearly, this was an album that was confused as to what it wanted to be, and it wasn’t until the sophomore album that we saw the project starting to lean towards their modern sound.
Then came the third Deafest album, Earth Turned Skyward, which introduced a revamped and improved sound that captured our hearts from beginning to end. 37 minutes of instrumental journeys through forgotten landscapes are both heart warming as they are thrilling and full of energy. The whole thing really does sound like a journey, and Deafest achieves this by adding more melody, varied drumming, and a pacing that follows a very thunderous rhythm; you can really feel the passion here!
And here we are at Glen and Precipice, the fourth and latest album. In short: their best album, for sure. Chase captures the true essence of the wild spirit in nature, and the raw production actually serves a purpose other than just to be “black metal”. It’s primitive sound resonates with the nature themes, however that’s pretty much where the primitivity ends, because compositionally the whole record is just incredible.
It’s hard to describe without saying the word beautiful, because that’s what this is: Deafest has opened up it’s heart to the world and the project feels like it’s full of color and beauty. The blast beats provide an intense heartbeat that the guitars keep up with as they melodically play with melancholic overtones, and we get to hear some keyboards as well. There’s a change in speed here and there; often songs will switch from a heart-pounding rhythm to a slower, heavier riff that serves as a sort of breath of fresh air. Ther isn’t even a best song on here; the whole album blends together into one 40 minute journey that will test your will and perseverance.
If you’re a fan of atmospheric black metal, seriously give Deafest a try with their new album Glen and Precipice. This project keeps evolving and embracing new sounds and atmosphere’s, and shows how cherished and beautiful nature can really be. 9.5/10.
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