Black metal can be serious business. Take a look at the conversation surrounding Deafheaven. The S.F.-based five-piece, which was formed as a duo in 2010, works in the genre while subverting stylistic traditions. Deafheaven's personnel doesn't dress like typical black metal dudes, and the band titled its second and latest record Sunbather, referencing a profoundly un-black metal activity. (Also, the album's cover is salmon-colored.) Sunbather has the overwhelming presence and noise of a black metal album, but its soft moments and crescendos also take cues from post-rock. All this has led to significant Internet chatter about whether or not these guys are cultural appropriators. Having to constantly deal with the headache of being called “hipster metal” must suck, but it could be worse: the members of Liturgy, an even bigger pariah in black metal, once received a shattered windshield and slashed tires for their troubles.
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