Album Review: Sleepers Awake – Transcension
Posted by Reggie
2013 was (is) looking to be a brilliant year in music. We’ve had some great releases in Hatebreed, Soilwork, and Tesseract just to name a few. There is still so much to look forward to in Queensryche (without Geoff), Dream Theater, Chimaira (yes, I just said that), and Black Sabbath. What about the independent shit you didn’t expect? You know the stuff that simply knocks your socks off? I haven’t quite had that experience this year until this sleeper of a band called Sleepers Awake (no pun intended) was sitting in our inbox asking to be downloaded and reviewed. After about a week of listening to this 70 minute mammoth album, I am still hearing things for the first time…and believe me, I pay attention. That’s how deep and diverse the 12 songs of Transcension are. As you might imagine, this potential end of year Top 15 album is quite good and I am excited to tell you about it.
One of the first things that came to mind was the depth of the album. As I heard subtle influences from the intricacies of Tool to the progressive prowess of Opeth, I knew this album was more than just background noise in the office. Especially since the song lengths range from 1:11 to 9:31. Those aren’t your standard cookie-cutter song lengths. It takes an effort to make songs of varying length and meaning like that. Transcension is an experience, much like an Opeth album, that needs to be listened to and not merely heard. So, I gave the album that special attention it needed…all 70 minutes of it. As a result, each play-through has been an eye-opening occurrence of new discovery. I can’t even tell you which song is my favorite because once I decided it is Burdened, the longest song at 9:31, I find that I am blown away by Apparitions, and then the other 9+ minute song Saint Condemned.
The artistry is equally strong on all fronts. The vocals resemble a tone similar to Serj Tankian when he does the softer parts of SOAD songs. The prominent style brings Maynard Keenan to mind, and then there are the Opeth-like growls and, of course, the normal (clean) tone of Chris Thompson’s vocals are captivating. Diverse is a good way to sum it up, so let’s go with that. The rest of the instrumentation take turns being out in the spotlight from the most subtle and moody melodies to bone crushing thrash and death metal. Each member’s role is vital and appropriately utilized.
I could go on forever, seriously, about this release, but I will spare you the ramble because it would just get repetitive. Transcension is their sophomore effort which means two things. First, this is nowhere near ever going to be a sophomore failure. Two, now I have to track down that first album. The bottom line here is that Transcension will impress you well after the first listen and that’s where I personally delineate the difference between music and art. This…is…art!