The world is disgusting. It truly seems that no matter how hard we look, we can’t fully love or respect anyone. Everyone makes you sick to look at, every voice you hear feels like nails in your ear canals. When was the last time you didn’t fantasize about the total annihilation of the entire human race?
Fortunately, for people like you, there is a collective of equally misanthropic and violent human beings haling from Buffalo, New York, aptly titled Sleepers. On their new ep, they channel every last single bitter brainwave into a call to arms for the rest of the disenfranchised and malevolent. Welcome to the Hive.
Day 1. Time to learn how to exterminate.
From the very opening second of album opener “Death Relic”, guitarists William Bates and Nick Venezia make their mission statement frighteningly clear: no survivors, only death and chaos. Throughout the entirety of the ep’s nearly 20 minute run-time, these two Barons of the Breakdown meticulously smash, slam, and slither their way into the listener’s mind, ever so brazenly feeding off of their hatred. Providing a tone that gives each song the weight of an entire city that is still, somehow, shimmering and clear in the mix. Moments like the heart stopping ass beater breakdown in “Annihilus” and more atmospheric interludes, brief though they may be, in tracks like “The World, The Flesh, and the Devil” show Venezia and Bates working perfectly in sync to provide the first step toward total genocide.
Day 2. The end is inching closer.
While Venezia and Bates are both absolutely horrifying in their own right, they are two parts of five man death squad. Further backing them up in their world-despising downtempo deathcore are bassist Scott Heckman and drummer Nate White. If Venezia and Bates are the baseball bat clenched in your fist, then Heckman and White are certainly the nails and barbed wire crudely wrapped around it. From the first slow and low groove of the album to more standout moments like the climax of “Fearmonger”, Heckman makes no attempt to water down his violence. Supplying murk and mud in musical form, Heckman supplies an absolutely filthy tone that could wake the dead from their slumber. Constantly shoving groove and aggression down your throat, Heckman is assisted by the absolute barbaric drumming from White. There is not a single moment of frivolous and masturbatory technicality, nor is there a distinct lack of energy or creativity. From the jaw dropping breakdown in “Annihilus” to the stunning conclusion of album closer “Brundlefly”, White smashes, bashes, and crashes his way through the listener’s skull like an angry Snorlax on bathsalts.
Day 3. The end is here.
To speak of utter and whole extermination is to speak of vocalist Jesse Owensby. While the rest of the band certainly exceed expectations, Owensby is the true ring leader, the only real mastermind behind the world’s end. He is the Horseman of War, rallying the listener to finally give in and hurt everyone. While he may not stray too far away from the low-end range that has become so popular over the last decade, he manages to bring just enough personality to make him a true sleeper in the downtempo cabal, pardon the pun. Angrily barking, grunting, and bellowing his way through five songs describing the apocalypse, Owensby brings his vision to reality, leaving the listener a hollow, broken shell of who they used to be. Where songs like “Death Relic” see him more subdued compared to his peers, the vicious opening and references to Crowley in “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil” and chilling delivery on “Brundlefly” solidify his standing in the fold of heavy frontmen.
The day came. The world ended. All that is left is you, and the bodies strewn across the streets because of you. Because of the Hive.
While this ep may not be the most inventive or fresh sounding record to come out in recent years, it is just brash and bold enough to earn its status as the next big thing. Naysayers be damned, Downtempo Deathcore isn’t going anywhere for a long, long while.
FFO: The Acacia Strain, Filth, KING