Signing with UNFD for their sophomore release, ‘Alias’, metalcore quintet Sleep Waker embrace industrial and electronica to elevate their sound whilst lyrically diving into themes explored by Phillip K. Dick to create a collection of tracks that are a significant jump from their debut.
Storming in with the title-track opener and ‘Skin’, Sleep Waker continue their punishing metalcore, as guitarists Jake Impellizerri and Jason Caudill unleash a collision of riffs. Keeping the energy full throttle, the group alternate between crushing metalcore and grinding industrial that batters its way to the finish line. Noticeably, the group lean into electronica and melody to offset the unrelenting pace of the tracks, with ‘Skin’ benefitting from an extended ambient coda to break up the pulsating industrial of ‘Strangers’.
Whilst this combination has been used by many bands before, Sleep Waker benefit from the dynamics as album highlight ‘Melatonin’ shows. Following on from the atmospheric and restrained ‘Cold Moon’, ‘Melatonin’ melds grooving riffs with swirling synths, as vocalist Hunter Courtright flits between moments of calm and wide-eyed fury. Armed with hooks, riffs, and a restless approach to structure, ‘Melatonin’ hints towards where Sleep Waker could go.
The same can be said for the brief ‘Insomniac’ and the driving ‘Synthetic Veins’, as both tracks see the group play with the parameters of their sound. Whilst there are highlights to be found and ‘Alias’ has a tight runtime, the tracks do tend to merge with one another times. That being said, there are shades of versatility to be found, with the aforementioned tracks and closing number ‘Distance’ giving way to what Sleep Waker could be with a little more fine tuning.
A taut and raw track, ‘Distance’ unfurls the intimate narrative found throughout the record with devastating clarity. Poignant and sonically gripping, ‘Alias’ ends on a strong note. Whilst Sleep Waker don’t fully match their ambition with ‘Alias’, they have moved past the limitations of their debut to create a record that looks forward rather than backwards.