On the title track off Deafheaven's 2013 breakout full-length Sunbather, singer George Clarke howled illuminated lines about encountering "oceans of light." But as New Bermuda kicks off, the frontman again finds himself submerged in darkness.

On the title track off Deafheaven's 2013 breakout full-length Sunbather, singer George Clarke howled illuminated lines about encountering "oceans of light." But as New Bermuda kicks off, the frontman again finds himself submerged in darkness.

"I've boarded myself inside," he growls on the acidic, eclipsing "Luna." "I've refused to exit."

The shape-shifting black metal quintet penned much of the album, which surfaced in 2015, after Clarke relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, and the stranger-in-a-strange-land vibe echoes in the music, which feeds on isolation, frustration, anger and uncertainty.

"There was a lot of discontent [living] in an unfamiliar place and not really knowing how to deal with it," said Clarke, who joins his bandmates for a concert at Ace of Cups on Wednesday, Jan. 27. "Also, being [on the road] a lot and trying to reconcile the touring life with this newly domestic one."

These accumulated grievances surface most cleanly on "Luna," where the singer depicts the glittering, suntanned Hollywood of film and television as little more than a mirage. "There is no ocean for me/ There is no glamour," he shrieks atop a thick, relentless conflagration of drums and guitar, his unhinged tone suggesting the desperation of someone wrongfully imprisoned.

"While we are an intense and aggressive band, and always have been, that song in particular felt more bitter than the rest of them," Clarke said, and laughed. "I think we needed to have a track [on the album] that was very blunt, in a way. It drives home the point of the entire thing."

As New Bermuda progresses, however, a grudging acceptance gradually takes hold in the music. A sense of peace, if not optimism, even bleeds into the album-closing "Gifts for the Earth," with urgent drums and throat-flaying vocals steadily giving way to acoustic strumming and warm, comforting piano chords.

"For some reason, it does end in this nice, unfinished way, I guess, like there's more to come, or there's something beyond," said Clarke, who wrote most of the songs after he'd fully emerged from this darker headspace - a degree of remove that ultimately allowed some sense of hope to breach the surface. "While the record deals a lot with frustration and depression, the last track is sort of a lulling acceptance of the whole thing. It leaves things open-ended, and hopefully leaves the listener looking forward to the album that follows this one."

Entering into sessions for the new record, Clarke and his bandmates were forced to contend with the brighter spotlight turned on them in the wake of Sunbather's success. Rather than wilting under the pressure, like golfer Greg Norman coming unglued in the final round of the 1996 Masters, the musicians embraced the kudos, allowing the accumulated plaudits to serve as evidence these explorations were worthwhile.

"There was a certain 'flying blind' mentality for Sunbather, and I think after people received it in the way they did it was like, 'OK, maybe all these ideas did make sense after all,'" Clarke said. "Once we had the knowledge people understood what we were doing [with the music], it gave us more confidence going into the next record. At this point, we have a certain trust level with our audience, and I don't think we were afraid to experiment in any way."

It helped, of course, that Clarke and Co. tuned out the various genre purists who frowned upon the band's shoegaze-laden approach to black metal - a musical form where convention reigns and most forms of exploration are typically viewed with a jaundiced eye.

"After a little bit, it all becomes noise and nitpicking, and I don't really care," Clarke said of these detractors. "It's a lot healthier to not care, and to trust yourself and to be thoughtful and honest about what you're doing. If you do that, everything else falls to the wayside."

Growing up, Clarke might have ascribed to a more rigid mindset. Early on, the singer gravitated toward the most extreme forms of metal, drawn in by the harshest images and sounds, and it's difficult to imagine a middle school-aged Clarke appreciating a textured metal epic that closes with an extended piano coda, for example.

"After I figured this was the music I liked, I just wanted it more and more extreme, so I just kept diving in and looking for new bands and getting new records and looking at who had the nastiest album cover and the craziest logo and stuff like that," Clarke said. "I wanted to listen to the stuff that people were too afraid to listen to. Or at least that was my mentality when I was a kid."