Review: Deaf Havana – Rituals

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Deaf Havana have once again shown their ability to grow as a band and create something different to their previous sounds. The band have shown their immense talents as songwriters and musicians to build a pop rock album full of anthems.

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Deaf Havana are back with brand new album Rituals which follows up on their last record All These Countless Nights,┬áreleased in January 2017 – a record which signaled a new beginning and a new sound for the Norfolk five-piece who very nearly called it a day as a band before its release.

Rituals continues to bring a new sound to the face of the Deaf Havana ensemble with a clear sign of progression and growth for the band – whose first release dates back to an EP released back in 2006. The record once again strays from harsher riffs and coarse vocals to instead favour more melodic instrumentals and pop-inspired vocals from frontman James-Veck Gilodi. The band stated that the album was written much different to previous LPs: whereas the songs used to be written by James using his acoustic guitar, Rituals was created on a computer.

Opening track ‘Wake’ features not much more than 40 seconds of beautiful choir work (courtesy of the London Contemporary Voice Choir) that gradually builds in volume until its climax. We are sent straight into groove-mode with the opening beat of recently released single ‘Sinner’. An incredibly upbeat, happy track which features intricate and exciting guitar leads and catchy lyrics such as “You can fall to your knees and pray, cos I’m a sinner now”. The single manages to incorporate a sound reminiscent of The 1975 but managing to keep hold of the Deaf Havana sound their fans adore.

Each song on the album has some form of relation to religion, namely, Christianity – with song titles such as ‘Worship’ and ‘Heaven’, the band have expressed how the theme of the album centres upon redemption and struggles. The third track on the album follows suit, ‘Ritual’ and is slightly slower to its preceding song. The song discusses a breakup of some sorts, this can be expressed by lyrics “And i never said I’d be the one, so I’m letting you go”. The anthemic chorus will certainly be a crowd pleaser and I can already picture the crowd sing-a-longs at future Deaf Havana gigs.

The 4th track and second single from the new album is ‘Hell’ and was actually featured on an episode of this year’s Love Island. The track starts slower than others on the record but explodes into a chorus that just makes you want to jump up and down. Veck-Gilodi’s vocals are once again the forefront of this anthemic single. The song features classy synths and vocal effects that really bring a new pop surroundings to the once ‘underground’ rock band.

‘Holy’ is a the latest single released from the album. It features some synth leads you would expect to find in a Marshmello or Illenium track but fits perfectly with the rest of the track and works harmoniously with the overdriven guitars. It is such a stray from the sound you’d have expected from Deaf Havana prior to All These Countless Nights,┬ábut it is also such a parade of growth for the band and an impeccable song that will certainly delve into playlists of all music fans.

There are some tracks on Rituals that are more reminiscent of the typical Deaf Havana sound. Notably, ‘Saviour’ and ‘Worship’ would fit perfectly into their previous album, with guitars and vocals reminiscent of tracks like ‘Happiness’ and ‘Pensacola 2013’.

‘Evil’ is the 9th track on the 13-song LP and has a scent of Post Malone inside. The song begins with heavily edited vocals and loud drum claps and goosebump-giving bass drums. James’ signature vocals soon kick in and are the focal point of this amazing track. It is so different to the others on this album (or any Deaf Havana record for that matter) and is my standout song from the album.

Deaf Havana have showcased their ability to create modern pop rock anthems whilst staying true to some of the components that really set the band aside from others in the alternative scene. It showcases the bands composure to take on new challenges to invent a new sound, much more radio friendly to that of records the band were producing eight or so years ago. I am really excited to see how fans new and old of Deaf Havana will receive the album and I am looking forward to hopefully seeing the band tour the album so I can hear some of these amazing tracks in person.

Rituals is available from 3rd August via SO records.

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3rd year Psychology student at UoS. I Hate my degree, love music.

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