Deaf Havana – Rituals

While it may never go down as an acclaimed piece of artistry, Rituals is diverse enough to count; a glittering, pop effort encased in a mainstream coating

Album Review by Mark McConville | 10 Aug 2018
Album title: Rituals
Artist: Deaf Havana
Label: SO Recordings
Release date: 10 Aug

Deaf Havana frontman James Veck-Gilodi said recently that their new record Rituals is "quite self-indulgent." But, it’s more than just a transition into poppier territory, it’s more than implementing hooks and melody, it’s a statement from a man who has carried burdens and who has felt the constraints of isolation and the downtrodden effects of disenchantment. Although he’s hurt, he’s truly connected to music, craving to colour over the blackness.

Since their inception in 2005, the band have risen up the rock ranks, putting out records of significance, albums which convey inner conflict and fear. Their music hasn’t all been unvaried either. Debut full length Meet Me Halfway, at Least was a harsh listen, a post-hardcore treat, abundant in chord progression and energy. After the record was played out, the act severed ties with the genre.

It bemused many when Deaf Havana started to go in a different direction musically, but it revitalised the band’s optimism. Veck-Gilodi began to write songs of prominence and his heavy heart and head were placed into the spotlight. Nowadays, we’re given heart rattling tracks bound in depressive notes, songs describing alcohol drenched horrors. With that being said, on Rituals the band shape an attitude of trying to embrace life. Rituals may be a glittering, pop effort encased in a mainstream coating, but it still reflects what the band are trying to say. The depressive lyrics haven’t withered, they haven’t rotted to the absolute core and they’re infused right through to the underbelly of the opus. While it may never go down as an acclaimed piece of artistry, it’s diverse enough to count.

Many fans may scorn such change, they may disband from supporting Deaf Havana, but bands are allowed to alter their sound as they please. Yes, there's been an influx of acts reworking their muse. Many albums from these bands have slumped, but experimentation is fundamental to progression. Deaf Havana have chosen to spread their wings and we should commend the Norfolk outfit.

Scepticism is natural when a record gets the pop treatment. Although, Rituals is a good listen throughout and should be applauded. Lead single, Sinner showcases an infectious hook which lands well into the brain. There are snippets of guitar, but the sound doesn’t impose, it adds diversity. Hell is a cathartic effort describing a lover running like a wild thing with tears flooding her eyes. Saviour takes us back to last year’s All These Countless Nights with those commanding drumbeats surging through and their trademark acoustic sound. Evil begins slowly with Veck-Gilodi singing purposely; a pop song with emotional underpinnings, it raises the hairs to a rigid stance.

Deaf Havana have moved with the times but it isn’t all sugar-coated and there’s still enough emotion to drive us towards their music.

Listen to: Sinner, Saviour