San Francisco's Deafheaven brought a great crossover record to the table with 2011's Roads to Judah, a dramatic debut which used the passionate aggression of black metal as a starting point for more adventurous means. With Sunbather, they're constantly merging grand, lush melodies together with the intensity of extreme music: Dream House, the first cut, sounds like Mayhem jamming with My Bloody Valentine.
The record's sprawling, blastbeat-studded movements are broken up by three brief interludes which range from pretty, gentle guitar parts (Irresistible) to ambient soundscapes spliced with vocal samples (Please Remember, Windows). On the main songs, George Clarke's rasp is tastefully interlaced with the moody, ever-changing instrumentation. Vertigo is the colossal, multi-sectioned centrepiece; none of its 14 minutes feel padded out. Ultimately, Deafheaven's songwriting talents have improved in a big way here; each track more consciously built around the bigger picture, making for a consistently gripping, emotionally cleansing whole. [Ross Watson]