It’s been a slow but steady rise for South Wales melodic hardcore outfit, Casey. Formed in 2014 by ex-members of Continents and Hot Damn, they caught the attention of underground label Hassle Records, and released their debut full-length ‘Love Is Not Enough’ in 2016 to widespread critical acclaim.
Having played Download Festival and Reading & Leeds, as well as a slot on the prestigious Kerrang! Tour now under their belt, the band are now back with their sophomore record, ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’, and, if this record doesn’t put them on the map, well, you’d get to wondering if the map is even worth having.
The album is noticeably less heavy than their last, and fans of their blistering previous work may be caught off guard by slow, sombre opener, ‘Making Waves’. “Between depression and colitis, I lost half of my weight,” sings frontman Tom Weaver, and it’s clean vocals only on this track, layered over nimble fretwork, without a breakdown in sight. Though, that’s not the case on the formidable ‘Wavering’, with its reverb drenched guitars and fractured, caustic screams.
Twinkling instrumental interludes break up the album throughout, between material that is consistently so diverse, confident, and accomplished that it’s honestly a challenge to pick out the highlights. Single ‘Fluorescent’ glitters with its gentle chiming guitars leading into a forceful chorus, while ‘Bruise’ brings a memorable rhythm and a scintillating melody which oscillates like a pendulum throughout the track’s duration.
Casey‘s previous work has always had heartfelt, melancholic lyrics at its forefront, but they plunge to new depths on this record, and in doing so, reach new highs. The lyrics are deeply personal, and Weaver‘s struggles with his own physical and mental health are at the core of most of them. They read like pages from a diary, but manage to be both relatable and intimate, and in places, absolutely gut-wrenching: “This is an open letter to myself in five years time / I’m sorry if you’re not around to read this / I swear I tried”.
In comparison to ‘Love Is Not Enough’, the topic of relationships, and indeed love, is kept mostly on the backburner – but when it comes, it’s in the form of ‘Needlework’, a brutally honest break-up anthem with cauterising drums and a vicious guitar part entirely worthy of the song’s subject matter. Things also head back into familiarly heavy territory on the punishing ‘The Funeral’, before a surprising but no less assured spoken word outro steals the show on closing track, ‘Wound’.
Musically, as well as lyrically, this is utterly superb. Shoegaze-y, melodious guitar tones from Liam Torrance and Toby Evans, thundering bass licks from Adam Smith, and drummer Max Nicolai smashing cymbals with such ferocity you’d think it were going out of style. It all combines in the kind of shimmering instrumental synergy that’s rare in hardcore, and rarer still for a band this young.
‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’ is the kind of album that resonates far beyond its immediate territory. The kind of album that is delivered with such finesse and maturity you’d think it was the work of a band far beyond their years. The kind of album that, if you let it, will wash over you like waves and sweep you away into a sanguine, meditative current for its 40 minute runtime, before dropping you back to shore feeling simultaneously emotionally drained and revitalised.
On their sophomore effort, Casey have achieved nothing short of a masterpiece.