The Sleeping

By • Nov 18th, 2010 • Category: By Evelyn Miska Krieger, Featured Review 3, Reviews

The Big Deep
Victory Records
4 Stars

The Sleeping is a band that knows how to acquiesce to what audiences want, but still manages to work in some elements to push their style and play to their artistic sensibilities. Although many of their songs sound like the standard angsty pop-rock heard on the radio, closer examination proves that the band is pulling in a variety of references and styles that go far beyond the ordinary. Not only does The Sleeping’s style prove there is more than initially found on the surface, the same goes for lead singer Doug Robinson’s vocals which are almost chameleon-like at times, occasionally even sounding like a young Bono from U2’s War days. The biggest complaint that one might have about The Big Deep is that there are glimpses of interesting elements, but the album doesn’t go far enough. That said, at least those strong songs are there, which is more than can be said of some albums.

The Big Deep gets off to the start that one might expect from such a band. The opening of “Dark Days” has a big, intense sound with some decent guitar riffs. Same goes for the verses and chorus, it is pretty much the kind of thing listeners have heard from The Sleeping before, as well as from other artists and bands within the emo/post-hardcore/pseudo-punk genre. The song is fine and has nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t stand out in the way that the truly successful songs on The Big Deep do. “Beautiful Gloom” is the third track and breaks away from the mood created by “Dark Days” and “Buroughs Of The Ocean.” The song still wouldn’t be described as wildly upbeat, but the pace is increased and the chorus is catchier than on the first two tracks. It isn’t all doom and gloom, despite what the song’s title may imply.

“The Phantom Of Darker Clouds” is unlike anything else on the album and is a total standout in the mix. The style veers sharply away from what is established on the first five tracks and pulls in a strong blues influence. The song is excellent with the right degree of melancholy but rather than feel self-pitying, the mix of blues and rock makes for an extraordinarily interesting track. It is, without a doubt, one of the best tracks on The Big Deep.

Perhaps once The Sleeping broke away from the same-old style on “The Phantom Of Darker Clouds,” that change influenced other tracks as well. “Oh Gloria” is a much lighter song than most of the others on the album, but maintains that moody tie even though it is considerably different. Robinson’s vocals have a good balance of grace and grit and he isn’t alone in proving that he is capable of doing more than one kind of song. The rest of the band follows suit and Cameron Keym (guitar) in particular shows good versatility. Sadly, “Black Waves (Vaya Con Dios)” does slip back into that same sort of style as found on “Dark Days” and “Buroughs Of The Ocean.” The song just doesn’t stand out in the same way that “The Phantom Of Darker Clouds” or “Oh Gloria” do which is a bit of a disappointment.

The Big Deep
has some outstanding moments, but they aren’t as frequent as listeners might like. When there are such strong songs, it makes the average ones seem all the more average, which is the biggest problem on this album. That isn’t to say that they should have skipped including some of the best songs, but more of an encouragement to continue exploring those styles and genres since they work so well for The Sleeping. –EVELYN MISKA KRIEGER

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