Album review: Sleep Waker – Alias
Reality sure ain’t what it used to be. Eighteen months under lockdown, while being fed a constant diet of fake news and political doublespeak, seems to chipped away at some people’s perceptions to the point where they can no longer distinguish between science fiction and science fact.
Such concerns weigh heavy – in every sense – on Sleep Waker’s second album. Musically, much of Alias is a raging bull while, lyrically, it tries to make sense of 2021’s avalanche of raging bullshit by exploring themes of identity and reality. And, as Olivia Rodrigo would say, God, it’s brutal in here. Guitarists Jake Impellizerri and Jason Caudill conjure up riff after riff, each hitting as hard as anything in the news – although, just like those bulletins, the sheer, unrelenting nature of it all can sometimes get a bit much, even over a brisk 32-minute running time. But, thankfully, since 2018 debut, Don’t Look At The Moon, the band have also learned to allow the odd melodic glitch in the beatdown Matrix.
So the title track adds a soaring, Bring Me The Horizon-esque chorus, Cold Moon is a refreshing dabble in lush electronica, and the epic closing track, Distance, holds its fire long enough for singer Hunter Courtright to poignantly address the loss of his grandfather to dementia.
It’s touches like that that elevate deep thinkers Sleep Waker above the shallow pool of angry metalcore acts, even if they never quite manage to truly put the ‘top’ into their grand dystopian vision.
But Alias remains a rare record that will make both brains think and heads bang, which means Sleep Waker’s current reality is one well worth exploring.
Alias is released on July 23 via UNFD.
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