Review Summary: Shoegaze drenched black metal that doesn't rape Alcest for it's lunch money.
I’m going to be truthful here. Everything Sleeping Peonies do is a back handed, spike laced slap to the face to black metal. Yet, I cant stop listening to their music because what they lack in grimness and raw hate filled aggression is made up in spades with quality hybridized indie rock/black metal. Like countrymen Caina, Sleeping Peonies integrate reverb heavy shoegaze into a raw black metal formula. But where as Caina likes to flirt with acoustics in their blackened fury, Sleeping Peosies dabble in the post rock/dream pop spectrum, complete with atmospheric synths and upbeat melodic chord progressions. Their ability to blend non metal influences (shoe gaze, dream pop textures, and post rock) into depressive black metal without sounding like an Alcest clone is commendable, especially considering they just formed last year. Their first official release is a five track EP entitled Rose Curl, Sea Swirl. God damnit…..
Here’s a way to get yourself killed by a black metal heretic. Name your band to something that reads as Sleeping Ponies. Post your influences as coffee at dusk, forgotten seaside towns, and rose wine. Also publicly announce you’ve chosen to abandon hateful lyrical content for sublime melancholy that only mermaids and ghostly experiences can offer. If you’ve stopped reading due to the feminine qualities that plague this band, I recommend you stand your ground and keep reading because they write some truly genuine and heartfelt blackened metal.
How much of a role does black metal play in Sleeping Peonies sound? A lot more than you’re expecting actually. The vocals are performed in the standard depressive black metal style where the raspy shrieks and screams emote to a degree that only soccer’s most theatrical players are able to conjure. Fortunately they don’t suck or push the envelope of obnoxiousness, instead the vocals are perfectly situated between distorted guitars and backing melodies. Percussion is generally always blasting in your face (no homo). The loud snare drum compliments the earthy bass tone, solidifying a solid rhythm section. Guitars are executed in a manner similar to most post-black or metal gaze bands. You have your fuzzy riffs that provide the necessary edge and then you have the post rock inspired tremolo picked melodies to kick up a dandelion ***storm. The band excel at song dynamics, especially the soft to loud variety. Ambient Paysage-esque keyboards, piano and clean guitar notes cover a lot of ground in this near twenty minute recording. Spacious melodic passages often meld with the harshness of black metal in reasonably accessible (four tracks are four minutes) portions.
Production is raw enough to classify this as black metal but the sound is still crisp and easy to listen to. The rhythm section in particular is worthy of mentioning in this fine mixing job. A bass you can actually hear and drums that aren’t being suffocated with distortion, what’s not to love? Amidst all that psychobabble and sensitive emotional engagement with one’s true self , Sleeping Peonies have crafted an excellent EP that should appeal as much to the indie loving shoegazer as the open-minded black metal sith lord. For fans of Alcest, Caina, Have A Nice Life.