Review Summary: I swear I witnessed a different side.
Long Island's The Sleeping was a band that was never afraid to do things a little differently. Douglas Robinson's instantly recognizable voice coupled with jazzy and intricate guitar-work, an audible bass guitarist, and an above-average drummer alone would make them stand out. On top of that, they also possessed a far greater degree of songwriting talent than many of their Victory Records peers. While previous records such as 2009's What it Takes
and 2006's Questions & Answers
were excellent in their own right, the band reached their creative apex with their final release, 2010's The Big Deep
. With The Big Deep
all of the elements that made The Sleeping a unique and worthwhile post-hardcore band came together to make a truly special and memorable album.
Unlike the previous album, What it Takes
, The Big Deep
is not concerned with providing moshpit-ready "I hate the world" anthems for troubled teenagers. Instead, the focus is on introspection, in looking inside yourself and tearing your soul out and leaving it out there for everyone to see. Doug Robinson has stepped up his game as a vocalist and lyricist considerably, as gems like the somber ode to his mother "Oh Gloria" show:
Mother's love, cornered and shaking up
The sun bright on such a violent day
See the blood on the shattered dinner plates
Six years old, frozen still
I couldn't watch your rolling eyes escape
I could never be this brave without your face
The Big Deep
isn't just a fantastic album lyrically, though. Every member of the band stepped up their game on this release, providing a densely atmospheric backdrop to Doug Robinson's lyrics. "The Phantom of Darker Clouds" perhaps exemplifies this, and may very well be the most unique song in The Sleeping's catalog. A slow and ominous jazz piece, it is far from what you would expect to hear on the album of a Victory Records-signed post-hardcore band.
Then there's tracks like "Black Waves (Vaya Con Dios)," an already great song which is elevated to even greater heights by Robinson's shouting in the bridge "The whole world's on fire, you're at it again / You point your finger for nothing.
" as it crescendos into a blistering guitar solo that ranks among the best The Sleeping ever did. There are no shortage of moments like these; little things that shape The Big Deep
and turn it from a merely excellent album into a truly classic one.
It's truly a shame that The Big Deep
has gone largely unnoticed by anyone outside of the band's fanbase, as it has all the elements required to make a truly special album. It represents something similar to what Thursday did one year later with No Devolucion
; it is an inventive, creative, immersive, and forward-thinking album from a band who had reached their peak right at the end. ***ing listen to it.