With the COVID-19 pandemic causing live music to cease, it caused many artists to find new ways to bring forth their art. While many bands turned to livestreams, others found success in releasing singles to keep audiences interested and still, others, turned to viral platforms such as TikTok that brought metal to a whole new crowd. Now that live music has returned, with a slew of bands announcing tours, we’ve finally started to see full-blown releases coming to fruition again. While we’re not out of the woods yet, it’s time to turn our focus on the next generation of metal and bands to watch in 2022 and beyond. One of the first releases I received for 2022 was Asleep at the Helm‘s sophomore release, Keepsake.
For those unfamiliar, AATH is a metalcore quintet from the UK, formed in 2018 who have played festivals with bands like Make Them Suffer, Lotus Eater, TheCityIsOurs and more. Their debut album, Dissonance, amassed 100k Spotify streams and 45k Apple Music streams shortly following its December 2018 release. They are praised for their high-energy, no-holds-barred live performances which they have honed to a fine point over their short career. With Our Hollow, Our Home vocalist/guitarist, Tobias Young, taking them under their wing, the team behind this impressive outfit has only grown stronger.
“Sanctuary” kicks the album off with tremendous force. Heavy drumming and a nu-metal inspired opening riff is followed by a display of vocal ferocity. The atmosphere suddenly gets heavier before erupting into a soaring chorus and finally a gnarly breakdown before ending on a “spacier” note with acoustic/electric guitar closing it out. A little further in, we’re treated to a haunting interlude, “Fear.” This track, while less than a minute-and-a-half in length, has all the power and presence of any of it’s full-length counterparts. The momentum builds and leads straight into “What Lurks Within” which features an insane performance from Our Hollow, Our Home vocalist Tobias Young.
“Altered State” is one of my favorite tracks from the album and features InVisions vocalist, Ben Ville. This track has a bit more of an EDM influence as it begins, as well as experimenting with different atmospheres throughout. The track itself almost makes you feel as though, if you close your eyes, you’ll be separated from your consciousness. The different styles of vocal delivery, namely pseudo-rapped and spoken word/yelled passages are worth noting as they are a standout element.
The title track, “Keepsake” is one of the more emotionally-charged. This track is rooted deep in love lost, the melancholic nature that creates and how holding onto “keepsakes” can be truly painful. The overall atmosphere for this track is one of deep sadness, anger and confusion while remaining to-the-point and uplifting, in a way.
I have always had the belief that the opening and closing tracks in a release should express everything the album has to say, in a manner that sets itself apart from the full album itself. This is why I also believe that these tracks should be saved for the full release of the album, with the singles being contained in the body. “Detached” fades in with an echoed chorus before kicking into full-force and delivering one last punch. It’s easily one of the heaviest tracks on the album, while simultaneously relaying the overall atmosphere of the entire release. This track, in particular, has a huge sound that rivals giants in their genre. The subtle use of falsetto in part of the chorus gives way to the beauty that it creates. It ends with a slow guitar solo that recalls someone walking into the distance, as the credits roll.
Keepsake, in many ways, sets the tone for the hope we have for the future of metalcore. There are many bands that have emerged in the midst of the pandemic, banding together and collaborating rather than being rivals. Asleep at the Helm is poised to show fans what they’re made of, having clearly found their sound and comfortably experimenting with new elements. The album, produced by Daniel Kerr, is out independently now and can be purchased/streamed at the link below.
*TRIGGER WARNING: Flashing Imagery and Depictions of Drug Use*