Dead Swans

Sleepwalkers

Written by: AP on 14/08/2009 16:13:01

Dead Swans have built a solid fanbase in the isles and despite just three years under their belt, the five have gained notoriety for their explosive live sets. With their debut album, in vocalist Nicholas Worthington's own words, the band has attempted to transfer the raw energy of their live shows to the studio, and the result is surprisingly impressive, even for a hardcore-estranged writer such as myself. On the other hand "Sleepwalkers" is rather atypical for a hardcore album to be, completely devoid of any tough-guy attitude and with an overt focus on atmosphere.

Indeed, the spark from the bands live shows has been captured in a fantastic way on this album, as during songs like "Swallow" and "So Far You've Only Made Things Worse" things become so intense it actually sounds like the drummer is about to lose his sticks and fall of his chair. What makes this album such an interesting listen is the unconventional production which has put the guitars in the back of the mix, allowing for a discordant structure where one guitar churns out weighty powerchords and the other is concerned with ringing melodies (think Misery Signals here). The songs themselves are not written in the traditional sense based around a chorus and the relevant bridges either, rather, they appear to be racing toward an unknown destination and then cutting short in exactly the right places.

Unlike many other hardcore bands, "Sleepwalkers" is not overtly political, focusing instead on emotions and human relationships, which might sound corny at first, but inject the electrifying passion in the vocals and the skeptics will be silenced. Nicholas sounds like more emotive Sam Carter (Architects) and masters the art of expressing one self through music. His vocals capture the raw emotion unleashed in the instrumental channels, sounding strained and malcontent and carry in them great sorrow. Together the respective instruments and the vocals create an extremely gloomy, discouraging atmosphere.

In between the racing hopelessness there is room for experimentation as well. "Winter Overture" in the middle of the album provides some instrumental respite before the heaviest, most urgent track "Hide and Seek" rolls in with just 45 seconds of airtime. Immediately after it comes a slow, powerful hardcore ballad, "...and It Seemed So Bright" and with these two exceptions, as the album proceeds it only gains in intensity toward a punishing conclusion beginning with a fantastic drum solo in the end of "Today, Tonight Tomorrow" and ending in album highlight "Tent City".

Unfortunately Dead Swans are not the first band to realize the potential of metallic hardcore and populating it with small doses of post-hardcore to add some gloom and doom and as such we are not dealing with a groundbreaking record here. No, "Sleepwalkers" is a promising debut but to fully appreciate the music of this band, it needs to be experienced live. Still, there is so much potential here that the band need not worry about an uncertain future. The spasms of experimentation will undoubtedly be tapped into even more on this band's next album and the result may well be a less technical, but more frenzied version of Architects' seminal debut full-length, "Ruin".

7

Download: Thinking of You, Swallow, Today, Tonight, Tomorrow, Tent City

For the fans of: Architects, Have Heart, This Is Hell, Your Demise

Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.08.2009

Bridge Nine

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