Reviewed: Sleepkillers Awaken on Powerhouse Debut Album
After seemingly coming out of nowhere last month, Sleepkillers had already put the finishing touches to their debut album before they even gave listeners a first taste, which came shortly after in the form of the darkened hard rock stomp, ‘Dirty Foot’.
Not dropping until the end of January, HFTB has been fortunate enough to hear the self-titled album and it’s pretty damn good, and after having bassist Sam Rivers on our podcast a couple of weeks back- we’re already big fans of this quartet; so what’s ‘Sleepkillers’ actually like?
Upon first hearing ‘Dirty Foot’, a strong 90s/early 00s hard rock feel quickly came to mind, underlined by a murky Filter-esque bass line taking us back to the glory days of nu metal, when bands from all walks of life fitted into the hugely popular movement, and the rest of Sleepkillers’ debut effort has the same kind of feel.
After the opening lead single, we’re given an almost complete insight into the band’s motives with the salvo of ‘Leftovers’ and ‘Left for Dead’; the first coming in with a deafening roar from Damien Starkey, which makes way for some heavy riffing and a chorus that slightly brings to mind the better and more arty moments of A Perfect Circle’s ‘Mer de Noms’ album. Mid-paced with meat and muscle, it paves the way for ‘Left for Dead’, which showcases Starkey’s deeply personal lyrics in a semi-acoustic ballad that oozes grunginess.
If ‘Dirty Foot’, ‘Leftovers’ and ‘Left for Dead’ encapsulate what Sleepkillers are all about, then the rest of the album neatly flits between hard rock and alternative metal, with song after song having a high point in one way or another.
Saliva vocalist Bobby Amaru is impressive on the drums throughout, but none the more so than on ‘Hate Me’, as he takes control of a song that also shines with irresistable hooks and a strong chorus, while ‘Drown’ is another track that, had it been released back in the nu metal heyday, would have been absolutely huge. Potentially the stand out track- it’s chorus, like so many others on the record, is its shining moment.
‘So Low’ and ‘Hogtied’ bring the power with some churning guitar sections, the latter of which also has an emphatic solo, and further rock ballads ‘End of the Rope’ and the closing ‘Better Man’ show a band who are older, more mature, and a lot more experienced, writing songs that they want to without any record label pressure or dictation from other leaders in the pack.
Adam Latiff excels with some strong guitar performances, and it has to be said it’s great to hear Sam Rivers doing what he does best, after being out of the spotlight for a few years to deal with a serious back problem.
‘Sleepkillers’ is indeed an ode to the 90s/early 00s but it also has healthy doses of modernism, and it’s a shot in the veins of the current rock scene which has been waiting for a new band to come out and attempt to grab the mantle by its horns, releasing something that is raw, real, honest and fun- all rolled into one.
Whether you like Limp Bizkit, Saliva, Puddle of Mudd or Burn Season- it doesn’t matter, listen to Sleepkillers as if this is their very first venture in the music world; four friends joining together to bring their ideas to fruition, with a hard rock record that will most definitely welcome 2019 in with a bang.
You can watch Sleepkillers’ music video for ‘Dirty Foot’ below.
‘Sleepkillers’ is released independently on January 25, 2019. Visit www.sleepkillers.com for further information.
You can also hear our interview with Sam below, or on Spotify or iTunes by searching for the Head for the Barricade podcast.