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Sleepless > Host Desecration > Reviews
Sleepless - Host Desecration

Agreeably abrasive prog metal - 80%

we hope you die, April 15th, 2022

Old blood in new forms as members of Oregon’s Dead Conspiracy return in the form of Sleepless. Their debut LP ‘Host Desecration’ is a curious mix of old school progressive metal touching on Fates Warning and Watchtower, mixing this with down and dirty thrash elements and epic doom metal. Such a broad reach is wont to create tonal whiplash at times, but one simply has to credit the fact that it’s still possible to eke out new creative space in what can at times be proudly regressive styles of metal.

Despite the many faces of this album, the production favours a clean and crisp modern thrash metal aesthetic. All is taut and tight between the rhythm guitar, bass, and drums, leaving no room for atmospheric flourishes, apparently entirely geared toward delivering the intricacy of the riffs and punchy melodic interplay. But the distortion is still on the dirty side and wouldn’t be out of place on a straight up thrash/crossover album. Vocals shift from competent clean metal crooning that expertly navigates the at times overtly complex proggy riffing. But there is an undertone of aggression to the delivery as well, as the music flirts with thrash so too do the vocals. Despite the restrictive closeness of the mix, keyboards are allowed to make an appearance at times, enhancing the trippy edge to many of the riffs.

‘Host Desecration’ is liable to shift from epic heavy metal, to simple thrash punches, to classic progressive metal, to psychedelia, all in the space of a couple of minutes. At times it can feel like these musicians were unable to rest on an emotive vibe let alone a genre for more than a few bars, and so settled for endless switches in mood and historical orientation. But I am reminded of the first time I heard Voivod in this regard, which was an equally jarring and frankly unpleasant experience at times. It took repeated listens and considerable concentration to get your head into what Piggy was doing with his riffs. But rampant rewards and longevity awaited those that persisted.

Now, Sleepless bear only incidental similarities to the Canadian progressive metal legends, but there is a similar sense in which one must consciously flick their brain over to a new wavelength to fully engage with what they are trying to pull off on ‘Host Desecration’. Each pocket of recognisable musical reference points is bookended by quirky transitions or odd little progressive tangents that seem to squeeze and stretch the music in competing directions. But by following along with what they’re doing and connecting up the dots across the long form structure of each track, a twisted and convincing musical logic begins to emerge.

‘Host Desecration’ does not smack the listener over the head with obnoxious quirkiness, nor is totally incoherent. But it can at times feel like listening to several albums at once. Indeed, it has the immediate, dense abrasion in common with many prog classics both in philosophy as well as actual content. And just as with the 70s prog canon of old, after repeated listens the music seems to air out in the brain, and one can follow along with ease to this idiosyncratic and at times agreeably abrasive prog metal.

Originally published at Hate Meditations