Overall Score: 9/10 Expansiveness: 9/10 Variety: 9/10 Atmospheric Quality: 9/10 Pros: Great variety | Textured guitar work | post-metal at the genre's best Cons: May be too schizophrenic for some listeners.
Sleepmakeswaves are a band Rock Sins first discovered during the excellent Beyond The Redshift Festival in London in 2014. Playing to a capacity Boston Music Rooms, they were arguably the band of the day with their take on instrumental post-metal. Now that their new album, Made Of Breath Only, has been released, it demanded attention to see if they were able to replicate their live qualities on record.
First full track Worlds Away is a blast of sonic happiness, managing to be warm and uplifting while engrossing the listener at the same time, making almost eight minutes feel like it has passed by in a handful of seconds. To Exit and Then Return takes a darker tone, straying more into the realms of some of Sleepmakeswaves’ previous material, and will also feel very accessible to fans of bands such as Russian Circles, Pelican and Red Sparowes.
The main riff to Tundra will see headbanging aplenty at live shows, and this backed by a very effective soundscape, before changing tack completely and veering off into shoegaze territory, but not for long, returning to the crunching guitar attack before settling on a meld of the two styles. The Edge Of Everything is a tour de force in post-metal guitar work from Otto Wicks-Green, and is another track that sees a variety of styles in action, with some wonderfully layered bass as the song builds to a crescendo in the final ninety seconds.
Continuing through the album, the title track takes a completely different approach. It is a slow burning piano / keys powered number which has many of the same uplifting qualities of Worlds Away, but in a slower, more measured way. It’s the kind of piece (and it feels more like a piece of music as opposed to a traditional “song”) that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of a good indie film. Into The Arms Of Ghosts swiftly returns Made Of Breath Only to the darker sounding material, while the rest of the album flies by with the likes of Glacial utterly absorbing the listener, achieving that wonderful quality where the music is so good you lose the sense of how long you’ve been listening for. Closing track Hailstones is an almost ten minute epic that provides a wonderful bookend to all that has gone before, providing a positive way to end of the best albums of 2017 so far.
Some people may take issue with the slightly schizophrenic nature of Made Of Breath Only, veering between various styles with barely a moments breath or pause for thought, but this is one of the things that makes the album interesting. Lesser bands would not be able to pull off the changes in musical style with such aplomb, but when you’re as talented as Sleepmakeswaves, they make it look easy. Made Of Breath Only is a fantastic addition to their arsenal, and hopefully they will return to UK shores again very soon.
Sleepmakeswaves’ Made Of Breath Only is out now on Bird’s Robe Records.