Their sound juxtaposes a sinister approach to black metal with the detuned sonic power of post-metal, and the melodic sophistication of shoegaze. They have established a readily identifiable sound signature on recordings and live shows. While plotting a North American tour to celebrate their tenth anniversary, the pandemic hit and Deafheaven were left with unfulfilled plans. The band's solution was to record eight songs live in studio in a single setting drawn from the material they were going to tour.
The opener is the multivalent black metal wonder "From the Kettle onto the Coil," which was originally released as a stand-alone single between Sunbather and New Bermuda. The riff introduces George Clarke's screaming lyrics about body image and perception. The guitars chug, punching above an anthemic drum kit shuffle before a slippery melodic bridge, complete with both over-amped shoegaze tenets and a bluesy guitar solo, delivers the gateway to a gut-churning outro. "Daedalus" is the first song Deafheaven wrote together; it appeared on their initial demo. Its black metal heart has been refracted through the shard-like multi-tonal hardcore of Zen Arcade-era Hüsker Dü. The meandering shoegaze of "Vertigo" (from Sunbather) follows. Introduced by Daniel Tracy's processional drumming and minor-key fingerpicking from guitarist Kerry McCoy, it flirts with shoegaze before textures and dynamics shift to reveal swirling post-metal with spiky guitar exclamations and thundering blastbeats. "Language Games," from 2011's Roads to Judah, remains loose, ramshackle, and rough; the group obviously had no desire to revise or improve the trial-and-error process in their early writing. "Glint," from Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, languidly asserts its chord changes before erupting with a cascading melody, modal riffs, and incessant blastbeats over 11 minutes. "Baby Blue" showcases an assertive Tracy pushing the band with a restless itch while guitar and bass create warring layers of tension as Clarke begins singing. Later, McCoy delivers a master class with the wah-wah pedal in his jagged solo. The two epic-length closers, "The Pecan Tree" and "Dream House," are the bookend tracks from Sunbather. The former offers merciless rage from Tracy. He forces the band to confront his overpowering blastbeats in the noisy maelstrom. Clarke's emotionally visceral approach warrants an instrumental response of unhinged fury. "The Dream House" offers an imperfect yet stellar balance of instrumental grandeur and uncontrollable emotion. Clarke's screaming gives his vulnerable lyrics authority in league with the group's extreme, yet cannily precise, approach. 10 Years Gone is essentially a live greatest-hits package that provides fans with abundant evidence of Deafheaven's exponential musical growth. Though these songs have been performed many times, the band deliver them with emotional heft and breadth by employing expansive sonic perceptions of dynamically rendered nuance, imaginative textures, and a virtually limitless technical mastery.