Review Summary: A dark and emotionally evocative journey through psychology, insomnia, sleep, and coffee.
From crunchy, groovy lows to warm highs, Ryan Wall is bound to ignite thoughts of a grittier Devin Townsend. Not that he is, by any means, a clone of the progressive metal mastermind. Rather, the dark, flowing groove of Wall's debut, Sleep
, simply finds itself hitting new notes along the same sort of path charted on Townsend's own solo debut, Ocean Machine: Biomech
. The strained screams, multi-tracked chants, and over-the-top drum rhythms and carnival-esque riffing over bloated, compressed chords are merely tools lifted from the master refit for the job to be done on Sleep
, and they do it quite well.
And on its own, Sleep
presents itself as a very technically-sound and exceptionally well-crafted, fluid journey through psychology, insomnia, and coffee. Guided by Wall's vocals, based on a grittier Townsend-esque scream, Sleep
pulls us through low, drawn out post-metal riffing, looping leads ala Tides of Man and The Fall of Troy, and frantic, Gene Hoglan-style drumming at its most most spastic points. At its more experimental moments, we instead hear ragtime keyboard bobs, drifting, ghostly choral wails from a multiplied chorus of one, bongo fills, high-energy melodic loops of electronic samples, and guitar leads like musical beacons. The album features a build-up of retro stock audio as well that provides an odd psychological thriller feel to the album as a whole, providing a perfect staging for Wall's emotionally charged pleas and appeals.
is a very carefully crafted and framed piece of music which really does an extraordinarily good job of placing the listener into the emotional feelings of insomnia, the dream state, and the late-night personal psychological evaluations that often come with it. By piecing together so many well-designed, heavily layered riffs, choruses, fills, grooves, audio snippets, and more with exacting production, Ryan Wall has honestly done everything possible to pour his heart and soul into Sleep
. And it shows not only in a technical way, but in an emotionally evocative way as well - something often left out among the technical virtuosos in this day and age.