UK based alt-rockers Deaf Havana are back with their fifth studio album only 18 months after they released ‘All These Countless Nights’, and boy are they back with a bang! With two top ten albums under their belts since 2013, they have shown impressive growth, and have changed their sound, with every single album they have bought out which shows courage and strength as an artist.
‘Rituals’ brings a change in sound for the Norfolk group from their previous release, with frontman James Veck-Gilodi stating that the new material “might alienate some people”. The first few singles have made clear that they are moving towards a more commercial radio friendly pop sound – and while it’s bound to meet conflict from many old school fans, if done right, there’s huge scope to attract a new wave of listeners, to name one band that has done the same, Bring Me The Horizon, who still continue to grow.
Setting the ambience immediately, a choir-led intro track ‘Wake’ is introduced suddenly into lead single ‘Sinner’, with it’s fast paced, catchy anthemia bounce. A positive acceptance of human failures accompanied by handclap goose bump moments, tasty bass lines and a gospel choir, it’s certainly a change from their previous material, but it’s not a massive switch from the Deaf Havana we’re familiar with.
Some people often assume that pop music is just generic, mainstream bumf, however, when mixed right with different genres, it can certainly change the perception of pop music for the better. ‘Rituals’ kicks in, with again, some theatrical chilling music, with James’ synthesized vocals belting out some really inspirational, yet dark lyrics ‘I never said I’d be the one, so I’m letting you go’ – yet the crafting of a truly great pop song in an over-saturated market is an art in itself.
Musically, it’s theatrical, catchy, and frequently upbeat, yet the dark lyrics with the upbeat vibe, makes it sound even darker, which is something I just love about Deaf Havana. Songs like ‘Hell’ and ‘Fear’ seem a lot more personal for the band, but still carry on with the story they are telling in this album. With lyrics such as ‘I never said I’d treat you right’ is again, another dark story to be told by the man, Veck-Gilodi, as he soars out those raspy vocals, somewhat as he does throughout the whole album.
A more familiar Deaf Havana sound makes an appearance on a few tracks – particularly ‘Evil’ and ‘Saviour’, though the rhyming of “save you” and “saviour” in the chorus, is somewhat clever, but clumsy. By the time twelfth track ‘Epiphany’ rolls around, it just leaves you wanting more and more from these boys and I hope to hear a lot more from them in the near future.
‘Rituals’ is probably one of my albums of the year – I cannot compare it to any of their other releases, just because it is so different, as they boys change up their sound throughout their triumphant successful career, which is perhaps not too surprising, giving it a rating of 9 out of 10 for me. When it’s good, though, ‘Rituals’ is truly brilliant; there’s more than enough reason to be excited by this new chapter in the Deaf Havana story.