Sleepless – Blood Libel

No, this isn’t one of the two dozen pre-existing bands by this name that you might be thinking of. this is a new one, a rebirth of sorts, as it brings together two members of Dead Conspiracy (which released a handful of demos and EPs in the late ’80s before disbanding) with producer/engineer/guitarist/vocalist Kevin Hahn. Eric Dorsett and Eric Detablan are the two original DC members, handling bass and drums, respectively, and the trio brings forth a blend of old-school grime and modern punch in the early death metal mold.

First of the EP’s four tracks is “The Man Who Could Not Sleep”, which taps into the dirt with the timbre of the guitar and bass, while the vocals soar and growl over them. Rousing beats get taken up and discarded after a few measures, lending the track a twisting, shuffling feel, ever ready to change up the rhythms or tempo. Despite the unpredictable arrangements, there are solid hooks throughout the song, and the trio plays with such enthusiasm that it’s hard not to get swept up in it, particularly when they let the drums lead the way.

“Host Desecration” picks up from there, shifting into a comparatively straight-forward riff-driven thrash mode. There’s still a number of odd tweaks and idiosyncrasies in the song-writing, but it’s a lot easier to nod your head along to without getting thrown by persistent counterpoints and drops. That also makes it easier to appreciate the vocal work, which finds firmer instrumental footing before flying off into higher registers. “Deluded Hordes” follows, digging down on a hard main riff to find another satisfying ratio of wildness to grounding, perhaps my favorite of the EP. The breakdowns focus on speed, holding onto lines long enough for them to grow into toothsome bangers. That this is the second shortest track of the four is a bit of shame, but also keeps it that much more memorable.

Lastly, we get “Blood Libel (A Vampire Tale)”, with more enjoyably dirty tones creeping up around the hard-beaten drums and cranking guitar action. The vocals are more reined in here, telling a tale of a master, but the brevity keeps them from developing that into much, as the song punches out at just a dozen seconds under three minutes. There’s something to the way the songs grow shorter and shorter, but the intensity doesn’t rise correspondingly, making for a bit of an undercut experience. As a first outing for the reborn band, however, it’s a promising one, and it shows them working around with a surplus of ideas, and enough raw attitude to solder them all together, even if the end product is a bit unwieldy.

Sleepless – Blood Libel
THE BOTTOM LINE
A somewhat scattered, but still enjoyable, shot of death metal with plenty of that early potency and aggression
Reader Rating0 Votes

POSITIVES
Good fusion of old and new
Respectable interplay
Creative song-writing
NEGATIVES
A little too preoccupied with endless twists on the songs
There are numerous spots where a riff or progression is just starting to bloom before it's cut out, which happens often enough to be frustrating even in EP length

3.5

Gabriel
Gabriel
When he's not digesting cinema (preferably low-budget), wasting time online, or otherwise embarrassing himself, Gabriel can be found working his way through a stack of music to review and taking breaks from the crushing futility of life with the help of comedy. Involved in a number of short-lived musical projects, he now sticks to annual Halloween shows with Mexican Space Train.
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