01. The Auger
04. Slave Within
05. Heathen Verses
06. Saint Condemned
07. Circles Without Division
08. Throat Of Winter
10. Equa Mortuorum
11. Under Hoof And Gavel
12. The Fulcrum
You’ll find a lot of people extolling the virtues of ‘hearing an album in full’ in the metal scene, suggesting you don’t get the full experience unless you take it the way it was meant to be heard and there is no genre this is more true for than progressive metal. Case in point: Sleepers Awake latest effort Transcension, which contains 70+ minutes of meandering and complex prog that weaves the tale of The Auger and his ‘struggle with higher forces’. From beginning to end, the entire trek feels connected and fluid and to simply sample parts of it would be to do it a disservice.
Taking on a sound that can be very vaguely described as the bastard lovechild of some of prog’s most well known pioneers such as Tool, Mastodon, Dream Theater and Intronaut, Sleepers Awake assert themselves early on as obvious master craftsmen. Opener ‘The Auger‘ weaves rhythmic and juddering riffs into a gargantuan chorus that is carried by vocalist Chris Thompson’s massive voice — acting as the anchor for much of the album that turns 9 minute long tracks from instrumental showcases into winding stories and infectious songs. The talent of every band member is on clear display throughout the progressive bombastic trifecta that follows the opener and which, by the law of averages should veer into uninteresting territory during it’s tenure, but instead manages to carve out a seemingly endless number of new constructs and ideas.
‘Saint Condemned‘ is another stand out moment — notable for it’s predominance of gruff growled vocals that take on an almost Opeth-ian approach. It’s a clever change, despite the fact that they are a rarity throughout Transcension, it never feels forced or like it doesn’t fit. The album lulls briefly towards it’s latter half, not quite matching the unbelievable pace that was set by it’s predecessors but it’s an extremely minor grievance when taking into account the album as a whole. But it’s the closer ‘The Fulcrum‘ that really acts as the center piece and hammers home exactly what Sleepers Awake are all about. It carefully balances on that line between being overtly competent musicians à la Dream Theater and writers of great head-moving songs — just try and stop yourself from being drawn in by that opening.
Sleepers Awake are very obviously a band to keep a close eye on, what on paper may seem and could easily collapse into a confusing and muddled mixing pot of ideas, quickly asserts itself as measured and deliberate. Transcension is an album that is traditionalist in it’s influences, but forward thinking in it’s execution — a head-on collision of so many eras and approaches of progressive metal that it feels fresh and exciting. And it deserves to be heard in full, with your undivided attention.
Sleepers Awake’s Transcension gets…