You can feel the effort, as though you’re at close quarters and the kick drum wants to punch a hole through your chest. The guitars mesh together in a blissed-out maelstrom as those roiling blastbeats unfold into George Clarke’s piercing shriek. It’s Deafheaven playing Dream House, and as it has done on thousands of nights in the past seven years it sounds monumental: ferocious, majestic, almost perfect.
But this isn’t like those other nights. There’s no crowd. There’s no sweat flying. There are no arms reaching towards the band from the front row. Instead, there are five musicians separated by screens in an Oakland studio. This is 10 Years Gone, a live album for our complicated times.
“There is no way to get that feeling that’s there when we’ve got an audience in front of us,” guitarist Kerry McCoy laments. “Some of the time, playing the songs almost made me emotional. Touring is something that I’ve essentially dedicated my life to, and I firmly believe that it’s what I was put on this earth to do. There’s just no way to get it back. We tried to do our best and not cut corners and not put too much of a shine on it.”
Back in June, Deafheaven turned 10 when the anniversary of their self-titled demo’s Bandcamp release rolled around. Plans were in place to celebrate the occasion with a North American tour alongside openers Inter Arma, Greet Death and All Your Sisters. Naturally, Covid-19 had something to add to that conversation. “To rebound from the financial and morale hit, we put together an album of the set we intended to perform,” Clarke said when announcing 10 Years Gone.