Imagine being trapped wandering poorly lit, dull, faded hallways for days on end. Every door just leading to another door—dead ends begets dead ends. At first, it could be worse—after all, it isn’t permanent, right? One of these doors has to open to the outside. There has to be a way out. As the hours wear and run together into days, your search gets more frantic, as the hourglass starts to run and the question arises, which will happen first: the decay of your sanity or the discovery of a way out? Sleepwalkers, the debut full-length album by Michigan metalcore act Endeavors depicts just what happens when the hourglass runs out the listener is left without escape: insanity. Densely packed with volatile negativity, explosively hard hitting instrumentation and an eclectic dynamic to match, Sleepwalkers is a powder keg of an album which goes off without warning—waking more than the neighbors when it does.
Sleepwalkers is home to an entire array of vocal styles which serve as a stunning means of convincing the listener that what they’re listening to is the veritable mental decay of the vocalist. “Hang” and “(XO)” both make extensive use of a deranged, intense mostly-spoken method of chanting which sounds like the musings of one who is truly at their wits end. Meanwhile, “Weekend.Rot” is kick-started by an eerie whisper which catches the listener off guard, while “Welcome to Ruining My Life” combines all of these methods and styles into a vocally diverse stranglehold which winds its way around the listener’s neck and down their throat. However, when the vocals aren’t using any special method to entrance the listener, Endeavors make use of a simply grating and magnificent shrieking scream which stings and scratches like sandpaper at the listener’s ears. “Thomas” showcases this brilliantly, breaking in the album and kicking in the listener’s teeth with bold-faced anguish. Likewise, “Bedhead” is an exceptionally ravenous vocally-driven juggernaut of a track which combines vocal brilliance with instrumental proficiency to annihilate the listener’s sanity (or what’s left at this point in the release) completely.
“Bedhead” is one of many tracks on Sleepwalkers which makes use of razor sharp riffs and diamond-strength percussion to create a beautiful, complex canvas for the vocals to paint pictures of insanity upon. Opening with a combination of a sinister, dazzling guitar fill and a vicious, grotesque groove, “Bedhead” wastes no time in going right for the listener’s throat. “Thomas” employs a similar tactic, using no build-up, no instrumental lollygagging and no leisure whatsoever. Rather, it jolts the album awake with ten thousand volts right to the listener’s ears. This isn’t to say that Endeavors aren’t without moments of musical subtlety, however. “Instrumental,” an interlude which serves as a breath of fresh air (with perhaps a touch of sleeping gas), gives the listener a much-needed reprieve from the dominant high-strung, frenetic atmosphere of the album. “(XO)” also has a short period of ethereal stagnancy, serving as just the solace the listener was searching for, enabling them to take a split second to contemplate the chaos they were surrounded by—until the song picks back up and they are once more under instrumental attack. While the pounding percussion batters and beats at their sanity, the guitars cut inches deep into their flesh, bleeding them dry of morals and sensitivity. The instrumentation on Sleepwalkers serves as a perfect mirror to the intensity of the vocals to create a truly immersive dynamic.
Endeavors’ stunningly convincing vocal performance alongside the pummeling percussion and furious fretwork trap the listener deep within the dark corridors and twisting, labyrinthine tunnels of Sleepwalkers. Whether it’s the jarring emotional bluntness of “Hang” and “(XO),” the contagious catchiness of “The Blackout Kids” or the brutal, spine shattering intensity of “Bloodvvolf,” Endeavors barely slow down in their steam-roller like assault on the listener’s otherwise fragile sensibilities. How immersive and engaging Sleepwalkers is truly is nothing short of breathtaking. When the vocals take a sudden drop from the grating high-pitched scream, the instrumentation follows them, either becoming subtle or turning into a chug-packed maelstrom. These twists and turns in song structure mimic the twists and turns in the listener’s degenerating sanity. As Sleepwalkers progresses, so does the listener’s ability to follow. By the time the album reaches its conclusion, the listener is left out of breath, strung out, panting and nearly shattered. It isn’t until they are compelled to listen to it again that they become completely broken.
Chaos. Panic. Intensity. Death. This follows the listener’s mental journey throughout Sleepwalkers, Endeavors’ debut full length. However, while they might be a shell of their former selves, at the end of the album, the listener is nothing but ecstatic. It isn’t terribly often that a band’s debut release is able to paint such vivid images and immersive sensations of sheer, spine-twisting, back-breaking insanity.
For Fans Of: Know Lyfe, Gift Giver, Sworn In, Barrier
By: Connor Welsh