Oh, Sleeper "Bloodied/Unbowed" Album Review | @weareohsleeper @solidstate @solomonsporchp1
"If all your heroes are martyrs, shouldn't you be the same?"
That's the question Oh, Sleeper asks us on the opening track "Let It Wave" from their new album "Bloodied/Unbowed."
In case you're unfamiliar, Oh, Sleeper is a metal band hailing from Fort Worth, TX, with four full-length albums under their belt, and more than a decade of touring. If you're part of the metal community, but are still unfamiliar, that may be because their last release was an EP in 2013. Since then, they've been on hiatus while their guitarist/clean vocalist Shane Blay has been fronting Wovenwar. But that was then, and this is 2019.
Having been a fan since seeing them open for Demon Hunter in 2008 (and a handful of times since), I came into this record with high expectations and a bucket & mop to clean up what was left of my melted face.
Before I even get into the musical aspect, let me say how much I dig the album art. Oh, Sleeper isn't a band that's known for captivating artwork. Not to say that any of their previous work had bad art (personally, I really liked Children Of Fire), but this grabs your attention immediately. It reminded me a bit of Chelsea Grin's self-titled EP. Also, I appreciate the length of the album. I've never been a big fan of albums where I need friends' hands to help me count how many tracks are on the album, and fortunately, I only needed mine. Ten solid tracks, no interludes, no filler...just the way I like it.
Now we get to the music.
This album is exactly what I expected: creative breakdowns, heavy riffs, and drumming that will make you want to eagerly pick up a pair of sticks to play and then throw them down because you think you'll never be that good. Micah Kinard's screams are as powerful as ever, and Shane Blay's clean vocals are melodic without whining, which has always been one of my biggest complaints in modern metal.
Some songs I felt were filler, but there were definitely a few songs I kept returning to.
"Fissure" is the first one I kept repeating. It's the first track on the album where we get Blay's singing and the chorus is just as powerful as anything Kinard has barked on the tracks prior. While those tracks sounded fine, "Fissure" sounds like the Oh, Sleeper we've come to know and love.
"Two Ships" is another track that's been on heavy rotation. I won't give away too much, but in that track alone, we get the most melodic and the heaviest moments on the album. I'm surprised it wasn't released as a single, considering Whitechapel did something similar in their song "When A Demon Defiles A Witch" and was praised for it.
"The Island" has my favorite chorus of the album, not only for the lyrics, but for how the melody was structured. It's been stuck in my head since the first listen.
"Pulse Over Throne" has arguably the best drumming in their entire catalogue. Groove, power, and technique from start to finish. Coming from someone with almost twenty years of drumming experience, trust me when I say Zac Mayfield is criminally underrated. He's also a very entertaining street drummer if you ever feel like watching some of those videos on YouTube.
Overall, I give "Bloodied/Unbowed" a 7/10. I was mostly pleased with the product, and they clearly haven't slowed down, but other than the songs I mentioned, I don't see much replay value in the rest of the album. However, don't let one man's opinion sway you. There was absolutely nothing about this album that would cause me to actively avoid it.
I just hope it's not six more years before we get another project.