Album: Entry: Dispersal
In the last fifteen years, sleep has been total revitalized when it comes to areas of science, medicine, research and therapeutics. Millions upon millions of dollars have gone into it—why don’t we get good sleep? How can we get more sleep? Better sleep? Maybe you’re trying to sleep with someone—that’s where Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, whatever come into play (less medical, but not unimportant). Despite that, there is still a tremendous amount we don’t know about sleep. We know it’s crucial for forming and storing memories, honing new neurologic connections, solidifying newly learned information, rest, of course—but we don’t know why an awake brain can’t do so many of these things. In a similar vein of mystery, Wilkes-Barre mathcore act Sleepsculptor prove themselves to be an enigmatic mash-up of mathcore with raw, sinister metalcore influence to provide a jarring juxtaposition of unpredictable, spastic chaos and brazen, bold breakdown-boasting insanity. Entry: Dispersal is a carefully blended chimera of nostalgia and contemporary aggressive music that demands both respect and the listener’s utmost attention if they want to make it through the record in one piece.
Mathcore is a tricky genre—it often finds itself precariously wedged between the more technical end of conventional metalcore and the more polished grindcore acts, and, as a result, is widely overlooked. It had its heyday, some time near the turn of the decade, but the years since 2010 have not been kind to the genre as a whole. But—and I know you knew there was a “but” coming—there are exceptions, and Pennsylvanian punishers Sleepsculptor are among them. Drawing from some vaguely metalcore-esque roots to create a sharp and honed brand of mathcore, this stunning sextet sound akin to a younger, spazzier and more emotional sibling to The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, or maybe a somewhat more refined Arsonists Get All the Girls. If you’re well-versed in those acts, you know that’s a whopper of a complement, and it just so happens to be well-deserved. Entry: Dispersal is a short-but-sweet full-length record that is home to tremendous percussion, beefy bass and mind-melting fretwork that all blends together beautifully to create one of the more cohesive and accessible mathcore offerings to have ever graced the genre. From the opening groove on “Incomplete Forgot,” the group are figurative alchemists, weaving together bouncy segments a la Barrier (“Post-Traumatic” and “A Deity Conceived in a Petri Dish” are excellent examples) and sheer chaos (“Liber Null,” for example). The beauty within Entry: Dispersal is that even in spite of the more dense and chaotic portions, the band are never too dense, especially on the instrumental front—which is a common problem in mathcore and its off-shoots. This isn’t to say Sleepsculptor are simple or lack intricacy, by any means—only that they write with fluid transitions, careful song structure and polished, contemporary production adequate to allow even the uninitiated to get lost in their sprawling soundscape.
Sleepsculptor continue their assault on the listener where the band’s vocals are concerned. Where many mathcore bands have, conventionally, taken a predictable (and often screechy) approach to their vocal element, Entry: Dispersal sees that convention fall by the wayside. Where there might be some instrumental comparisons to some of the more emotional metalcore acts like Reflections, Barrier or VCTMS, the group’s vocal element is where that truly shines. Instead of a barrage of pig squeals and ear-splitting screeches, the band’s dual vocal component is an alternating assault by raw, harshly-belted yells and grisly bellows—spiced up by several brilliantly selected guest vocal appearances (Arsonists Get All The Girls, The Callous Daoboys and more). While the band’s vocalists don’t inherently go above and beyond where absurd range, dynamism or out-of-this-world talent are concerned, they provide a new and fresh style that defies a lot of the genre standards for the vein of music Sleepsculptor have injected themselves into. Opting for a more frantic and intelligible approach, the listener is able to follow along easily and find themselves immersed not only in the intense instrumentals, but in the psychedelic storytelling (accompanied by mind-blowing visuals) that the band provide.
Sleepsculptor fill a niche within heavy music that many heavy music enthusiasts probably didn’t even realize was empty to begin with. One part metalcore, one part emotional and six-or-seven parts spazzy-as-all-Hell mathcore, Entry: Dispersal is a release as friendly to genre newbies as it is to veterans of the style. Off-the-wall riffs, percussion, time-signatures and vocals battle incessantly against one another in a carefully orchestrated assault on the senses, bewildering the listener into wondering if they’re awake but hallucinating or lost in the midst of a vivid dream.
For Fans Of: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, Promise Breaker, The Callous Daoboys, The Number 12 Looks Like You, Duck Duck Goose
By: Connor Welsh