Oh, Sleeper

When I Am God

Written by: DY on 24/12/2007 02:23:38

Where is the line drawn between influence and stealing? I think it\'s unfair to criticize too harshly (as many have) Oh Sleeper\'s inescapable likeness to UnderOATH\'s masterpiece \"Define The Great Line\". But nevertheless, my opening sentence will give you an idea of the kind of initial thoughts that might flood your head should you choose to listen to the debut album \"When I Am God\" from this Texas quintet.

I mean influence and progression are some of the fundamental elements in the ongoing development of new music. It\'s how we got from 50 years ago to where we are today. The issue with this record is that while they incorporate both of these elements, there is a heavy bias towards the prior, say about 90% or so. But as long as you\'re not marking it on being the most original record of the year, it needn\'t be a drawback. This album does what is does, and it does it damn well.

The first song \"Vices Like Vipers\" begins with some light guitar and vocals for about twenty seconds before the screams burst in along with crunching metal riffing and some awesome soloing going on over the top. It\'s an impressive way to open the album to say the least and a perfect example of where Oh Sleeper\'s strengths lie. With no lack of talent in the band (which includes ex-members of Between The Buried And Me, As Cities Burn, Terminal and Sherwood) there is plenty of scope for some superb moments of individual glory. Most obvious is ex BTBAM guitarist Shane Blay\'s awesome soloing skill which pops up all over the songs instead of waiting for the bridge to make itself heard. This is also perhaps where they separate themselves most from label mates UnderOATH because all the solos give a slightly more metal vibe to the whole thing.

Frontman Micah Kinard\'s displays his more than competent vocal range, utilizing ultra deep growls through vocal chord tearing screams to clean singing, albeit much like a certain Spencer Chamberlain does as well. The prior experience of the members in the band explain how the group has managed to create an album of such quality with their debut release. The level of technical ability is blatant all over the album and results in songs like \"We Are The Archers\" where you can isolate any particular instrument and be wowed at how well written into the song they are.

Lyrically the album is very focused. It\'s largely based on a theme of a war, where Kinard uses metaphors to express his Christian beliefs, discussing the battles between good and evil with lyrics like \"Oh what a cunning foe we\'ve met...a new method, a new plan. But how do I train? How do you ready a child for war?\" There\'s great conviction in his words as he belts them out and this serves to add to the intensity of the record. Ryan Conley does a fantastic job with the skins to add some real beef to the songs with pounding drums and frequent double bass. During \"I Will Welcome The Reaping\", you literally hear earthquake-like rumbles rolling into your ears. One of my favorite moments on the album is the transition from \"Revelations In The Calm\' into the final song \"The End Of A Dark Campaign\" where Kinard\'s heavy breathing leads into a breakout of full on soaring screams creating such a powerful start to a brilliant final song, where Blay\'s talents are again demonstrated.

While initial listens may have you believing that \"When I Am God\" is a tribute album to \"Define The Great Line\", further listening will reveal the ways in which Oh Sleeper do manage to differentiate themselves (even if not hugely) from it. However, much like UnderOATH, what you also get from this band is unshakable passion, translated into intensity. Kinard\'s screaming is some of the best I\'ve heard and leaves many memories once the album is over, for example his monstrous screams of \'wash the blood from your hands!\' in \"I Will Welcome The Reaping\". The band have been eager in interviews to point out that they always intended their music to be meant for much more than just \'self gratification\' and success, instead choosing to create something with more meaning to serve a greater purpose. So props to them for that, I say. I think if this had been the first of the two albums to see release, it would certainly have gained far better reviews from the webzines. As far as I\'m concerned, it\'s easily one of the best hardcore/screamo releases of 2007 earns itself an


For The Fans Of: UnderOATH, Zao, early As Cities Burn

Download: Voices Like Vipers, I Will Welcome The Reaping, We Are The Archers, The End Of A Dark Campaign
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release Date 23.10.2007
Solid State Records

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