Oh, Sleeper is my all-time favorite band, but that’s saying something given that I only liked roughtly half the songs on their first record, When I Am God. Back then I thought their sound was a bit repetitive, but I readily forgave them because of tracks like Vices Like Vipers, The Siren’s Song, The Color Theft, and a few others that got under my skin like a second pulse and have stayed there to this day.
I bought their sophomore CD, Son of the Morning, after hearing only part of one song one time: The New Breed. I caught the line “we’ll make our stand here between the angels and animals,” and knew something amazing was about to happen to me. I was not dissapointed. It’s a concept record wherein the devil sends out a challenge to God in the title track, and God, after building up his army throughout in-between songs, fires back (to say the least) at the end with The Finisher; the results are nothing short of epic.
Son of the Morning: 10/10. This song has some of the most intricate and intense guitar riffs I’ve ever heard, and are juxtaposed perfectly against the equally impressive lyrics. Without the rest of the record the track might be misprecieved as blasphemous, but in truth its an unfiltered dipiction of just how dangerous a threat Satan is to the world. No red tights and pitchforks here. A sick and unforgettable opening.
The New Breed: 10/10. In the very beggining I feared this track was veering towards an emo sound, but after giving it a minute my worries were dashed–the beat fell like sledgehammer, and what followed was a ridiculously rousing call to arms.
In All Honesty: 10/10. Starts out with Micah singing in understated tones, then explodes with throbbing drums and “It’s like I was born to rip the flesh from her bones.” This is a very layered song, hard to sing along with, but powerful in all respects.
Breathing Blood: 10/10. This track jumps right into it, thundering along withoug pause until the near end, where it slows down and gives Shane Blay a chance to showcase his fine vocal cords. Breathing Blood isn’t the best song on the record, but it’s arguably the best at combining all the bands strengths.
Reveries of FLight: 10/10. Too short would be the only complaint with this one. The first half is sung to a beautiful, haunting melody, the second half screamed with a kind of wrenching desparation that leaves you a sad but wanting more.
World Without a Sun: 7/10. Not a bad song whatsoever (there are no bad songs on this record), but not as standout as many of the others musically. There is one part in the middle where the lyrics and beat fuse together with truely astonishing intensity, but the moment is over too quickly and doesn’t return.
The Fire Dawn: 8/10. Again, good song, lyrically moving, but nothing spectacular music-wise.
A Banquet for Traitors: 9/10. This one has awesome buildup and great sound, with a nod to the bands first record: “I’ll make you the god of a liar, cause I’ve been both a saint and a viper.”
Commissioned by Kings: 7/10. Feels a little repetitive lyrically, and like World Without a Sun, just doesn’t pack the punch it’s company does.
The Finisher: 10/10. There aren’t enough positive adjectives to describe this song. It is definiately the whisper in the storm that can be heard clearer than anything around it. The beat is hard-hitting but with a sonorus, melodic chorus, and as far as lyrics go, it’s a little jaw-dropping (“You’ll bow at my feet, or I’ll rip out your knees.”). This is God as he’s rarely protrayed–angry, passionate, fearsome, devoted to his people, and above all else, Almighty (“I am The Finisher, and I am Forever.”). Way to go out with a bang, guys.
When all is said and done, the only real issue with this record is that it’s too short…proof, I guess, that good things come in small packages. Prehaps the best thing about Oh, Sleeper is that they could clearly care less–particularly on this record– about being secular or appealing to the masses; which, ironically, seems to have only made them more appealing to anyone who’s heard them. They have an inarguably authentic quality that demands respect regardless of what you believe in, and a talent that would be hard to deny even if you hated metal. Sun of the Morning is altogether fearless, and Oh, Sleeper is the epitome of the new breed.