The Sleeping

What It Takes

Written by: TL on 17/02/2009 20:16:11

The Sleeping is a band some of you may or may not know from the song "Don't Hold Back" which was featured as an extra song in Guitar Hero 3. In fact, that's how I know them, as that song is pretty much my favorite song to play from that game, and as an effect of my affection for it, I actually gave their last album "Questions And Answers" a spin or two before deciding (probably unfairly) that it didn't have much else to offer. Now the band is back with their third LP, titled "What It Takes", and since I'm pretty much the only one here who knows anything about them, it would seem that this is their second chance to impress me.

First of all, The Sleeping is usually considered to be sort of an alterna-rock band with post hardcore tendencies, but on "What It Takes", the roles have effectively been reversed, and the sound here is more that of a post hardcore band with a significant softer side to it. The guitar, bass and organ that drive the music forward are still very much more melodic and playful than what you'd expect from a classic NYHC band (The Sleeping are from Long Island), and Douglas Robinson's vocal style can still be more accurately described as scratched singing than flat out screaming/yelling. However the mood is still mostly threatening in a way more familiar to (post)hardcore fans than alterna-rockers, exemplified both in song titles like "Bomb The World" or "You'll Be A Corpse Before Your Time" and the way the instruments may sound like everything is alright while the vocals most definitely sound like everything is all wrong. Fans of Emery and Secret Lives Of The Free Mason should have a clue about what this means, just don't go expecting for Doug to sing like the singers of those bands, because his malicious attitude is in fact much more implying of some Palumbo (Darryl, Glassjaw) worship.

The album opens up strong with the aforementioned "You'll Be A Corpse Before Your Time", featuring some truly hell raising and electrifying guitar riffs, but then quickly steps it down a bit with three tracks that are slightly bland. The better one of the three being (the also aforementioned) "Bomb The World", while "Friday Night" is the black sheep of the family as it showcases one of this record's worst features, namely the production that is momentarily pretty annoying. Especially on this song it sounds like you're listening to the band play in a large empty venue, and the resulting echo of the high scale guitars almost completely drown out the vocals. Not cool. Despite the next two songs of the track list seem slightly different, featuring some clean piano rather than the otherwise omnipresent Hammond organ sound, it seems clear already that The Sleeping are more focused on songs that will kick ass in a compact live environment than in memorability.

This band has a definite strength going for them on this album, in that they somehow have a similar feel to seminal emocore bands like Brand New, Glassjaw, Thursday and Emery. It's the same sense of angst of urgency that feels imprinted in their music. The problem is that they also share another, less flattering, trait with a long list of not so famous bands, namely that their songs seem to all have little more than one 'stress level' and as such, it quickly becomes a bit boring to listen to, as the music produces a similar energy all the time. The Sleeping are just loud and bent on kicking ass from beginning to end, and it's actually a shame, because more quiet songs like the jazzy and piano-driven "Anyone Night Stand" actually show some more interesting sides to the band, sides that would help them leave a more vivid impression if they were giving more space. In the end, their one-dimensional nature prevents them from becoming much more than a simplified party-version of Thrice or Glassjaw, and as such their record is a fair listen, but nothing that'll cling to your memory for long.

Download: You'll Be A Corpse Before Your Time, Bomb The World, Anyone Night Stand
For The Fans Of: Secret Lives Of The Free Masons, Disco Ensemble, Glassjaw, Thrice

Release Date: 16.02.2009

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