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No Sleep Till the Next Probing Tranquil Shredfest - 89%

bayern, February 23rd, 2017

Luke Jaeger is not an obscure name on the metal scene, the man having put his signature underneath works of death metal institutions like Vile, Suicide Culture, the deathcore heroes All Shall Perish as well; one should also get acquainted with his more personal projects like the melo-deathsters World Under Blood, and especially the one-demo-wonder Mincery, a really unique jazzy thrash/death metal outfit, on which only demo he gave more freedom to his vivid imagination.

However, the man’s main contribution to the music world is Sleep Terror, an all-instrumental act with Luke playing all the instruments. The interesting fact about it is that the guy specializes in technical death metal here which makes his “offspring” a fairly original entity since not many are the instrumentalists at present, and also in the past, infatuated with the more brutal side of metal. He combines both the old and the modern school as evident from the complex rifforamas presented on the EP’s and the debut full-length which nicely carved the way for a new voice on the arena. This new voice could be viewed as some kind of an echo as well since before him there was the guitar wizard Toby Knapp’s solo effort “Guitar Distortion”, released in the distant 1993 which was the first death metal-ornated instrumental opus. Although Knapp’s hectic patterns were still firmly rooted in thrash, this was, and still is, a great example of brutal guitar pyrotechnics.

Jaeger only very passingly touches the good old thrash as his exploits are unmistakably death metal-fixated with a strong, at times dizzying, technical flavour. The man’s guitar acrobatics can be tiresome to some as he changes the pace at will, randomly throwing a stupefying guitar stroke after stroke turning his works into exercises in style, to these ears all for the better. In this train of thought his endeavours will not be to everyone’s taste, but fans of the instrumental aggressive “cacophonies” will be salivating all over Jaeger’s creations.

The man took a lengthy, nearly 10-year, break after the debut filling in the gap with the release of several compilations of old demo tracks which still kept the fanbase hooked due to the staple virtuoso guitar acrobatics. He eventually came back with the album reviewed here giving the hungry riff maniacs a bit over half an hour of intricate shredding delights. The word delight has been used here with a bit of caution, though, as Jaeger has made some adjustments to his hectic shredding repertoire that may not be a very pleasant surprise for everyone. Actually, half of the material featured here has already been heard the guy modifying some old tracks combining them with several new tunes. The opening title-track contains the expected technical formulas, but djent has been added to the fore creating more or less necessary jumpiness which takes the upper hand on the following “Anabolic Salvation” where the brutal deathy accelerations also come across weird jazzy “idylls”.

One has to learn to tolerate the contrast between the two (brutal and softer) sides as every number is a combination of the two with the needed balance between them usually achieved although one may wish short super-technical “bullets” like “Bruxist” and “Dual Proprioception” to have been spared the mellower, more introspective passages. Traditionally the tracks are short biting “electroshocks” lasting for no longer than 2-min the exceptions to this unwritten rule placed towards the end, “Dipsomaniacal Chronotherapy” being a really restless mosher Jaeger leaving his fingers on the faster passages which are close to the highest Shrapnel models, the man also throwing in a few dazzling leads into “the furnace” as an afterthought; and the closer “Prodromal Nocturia” (where the hell does this guy take these titles from?!) being an impressive progressive saga the jarring riff “salad” interrupted by a portion of beautiful melodic leads again which later take the upper hand seeing Jaeger pulling it off no worse than Jason Becker, and Toby Knapp again.

It’s true that the approach has been modernized, the slower moments have been increased, and not all the compositions are brand new. And yet this is a compelling exhibition of the talents of a prominent axeman who may not be the latest big sensation on the guitar virtuoso circuit, but at least should stand proud as the most brutal representative of that movement. Death metal seems way more attractive with its all-instrumental presentation still making waves, probing here and there, and ultimately detonating all sightings of detrimental tranquillity.

Stale and Boring - Technical skill ≠ Good music - 40%

Apocolocyntosis, August 12th, 2015

After nearly 10 years there is finally new Sleep Terror. Sleep Terror was a sensation with their funky jazz interludes breaking up otherwise blisteringly fast guitar work. Unfortunately, after 10 years, the novelty has worn off and Sleep Terror releasing an album of the same old stuff just sounds plain boring. Sleep Terror originally rose to prominence in the wake of Necrophagist’s Epitaph album and released a series of technically impressive songs that eventually were compiled onto a 2006 album Probing Tranquility. Unihemisphera brings nothing new to the Sleep Terror formula. It is as though Luke Jaeger became frozen in time for the past 9 years, heard a couple djent songs, and then rerecorded all his old music. Every song here has some fast technical guitar riffing with some odd soloing thrown in seemingly at random and strange, non-sequitur breaks into jazz or funk inspired playing. Every single song songs like it is a rhythm exercise for a guitar player and not actual music meant for others to listen to.

It is impressive the first time, but you soon realize every song on the album relies on this same gimmick. Each song sounds like a variation of the previous song, and if you think it all sounds familiar, you’d be right since most of the tracks are just re-recordings of previous songs from the past decade. There is nothing fresh here. Some of the funky interludes on these songs are almost laughably goofy, take for example on track 6 ‘Somatoform Vortex,’ at about 45 seconds in. It sounds like some sort of bizarre circus. Any song that has a semblance of melody or cohesion is quickly destroyed by a new riff that arrives at insanely fast speeds from the complete opposite direction. This is not counterpoint, this is chaos. It doesn’t take long to figure out the formula used by Sleep Terror: 1. Crazy fast riffs, 2. Jazzy clean guitar riffs on some strange time signature, 3. Heavy chugging used, 4. Throw in pinch harmonics everywhere, 6. Rinse and repeat! Oh, and don’t forget each song has to be named something unintelligibly obscure from a medical dictionary.

The biggest difference between Unihemisphera and past Sleep Terror works is the guitar tone. It seems like Luke Jaeger heard that djent guitar tone that was all the rage a couple years back and decided to make that his primary sound. It is a stale sound and definitely feels derivative. It’s cute the first time, but it grows old quickly. And I think Luke Jaeger realizes this, so he keeps his songs short; most of them are around 2 minutes long.

I think the best way to sum up Unihemisphera is that just because you are good at playing an instrument, it doesn’t mean you are good at writing music. Luke Jaeger needs to find some bandmates who have a greater creative vision that can guide his talents on the guitar into something more enjoyable to listen to.