Label: Deathwish

Forget what you think you know about metal. Forget what you think you know about the shimmery catharsis of Explosions in the Sky-esque post-rock. Leave your knee-jerk reactions to screamed vocals and long songs behind and let Sunbather, the second album from San Francisco-based Deafheaven, break over you. Submit to this album, a seven-song experience that's best taken in all at once. The lyrics allegedly have something to do with privilege and broken homes, but you'll feel the release conjured by the quiet-loud dynamics without having to open the album's booklet. The shifts from lead singer George Clarke's piercing cries over double-time drumming to bright guitar solos like sunlight glimpsed between clouds—you don't need to be any kind of music nerd, black metal or otherwise, to get those moments. Any kind of non-believer can be overwhelmed by the scale of a cathedral. And that's what Sunbather is, a cathedral. —Ross Scarano