Review Summary: Yet another band drinking from the tepid pool of the metalcore genre.
It seems these days metalcore gets a bum rap. It feels like only yesterday bands like Botch, Converge, and Poison the Well were bearing the torch of modern hardcore music. Sadly it seems like the genre never really escaped what those trailblazers had done. However, every so often we are graced with an album like August Burns Red's "Constellations," which takes the best parts of metalcore and adds just the right amount of variation and originality. Yet it seems like for every "Constellations" there are twenty other metalcore albums that range from mediocre to down right terrible. Oh, Sleeper's sophomore effort fits comfortably in the latter.
"Son of the Morning" isn't a bad album per se, but a rather uninspired attempt at a grandiose, multi-layered, concept piece. The album tells the story of the final battle between God and Satan. The cover is a broken pentagram symbolizing Satan's broken horns as screamed in the album's finale, the finisher. Everything is there for a concept record of epic proportions.....except the epic part. Like most bands drinking from the same pool that is the metalcore genre, Oh, Sleeper fails to bring anything groundbreaking. A tale this epic should have so much wankery it would make even the most pretentious prog band sick. However, there are no indulgent 10 minute songs, no endless guitar solos, and not even one single piece of ambient filler. The lyrics themselves barely even tell a story. More work could have, and definitely should have been put into this.
Aside from the lack of freshness, "Son of the Morning" is just plain unimpressive. Micah Kinard, the lead vocalist, offers little variation.This leaves the vocal work of Shane Blay (ex member of Between the Buried and Me) in charge of anyone desiring something other than Micah's vomiting screams. The lyrics offer little depth. Overly brutal lines such as "Your challenge has been met, because with a breath I could snap your neck," and "You will bow at my feet or I'll rip out your knees and make of your face all the carnage you crave," are rampant. They fit nicely with the overall "final battle" theme, but in the end lack true lyrical depth and bravado.
Yet if you are able to trudge through everything this album does wrong, you will be rewarded by everything Shane Blay does right. As stated previously, his vocals are much better than that of the lead singer's. His great faux-Dustin Kensrue vocals, accompanied by some rather enjoyable guitar playing, offer the only things this album has going for it.
With complaints aside, "Son of the Morning" has a few good, catchy tracks. "New Breed" and "The Finisher" feature some of the best guitar and vocals on the entire CD. "Reveries of Flight" is perhaps the slowest and most calm of all the tracksand is a welcome respite, churning out some great emotion and lyrics.
It appears that Oh, Sleeper wears this "average" rating like a badge of honor. After all, everything on this album has been done before one thousand times over. Its truly disappointing to see a flash of promise only to see it fade into the mediocrity once more.