Review Summary: Although it stands as The Richter Collective's swan song, BATS' "The Sleep of Reason" is a powerful and engaging work that deserves to be celebrated.
At this point in their career, BATS could do just about anything they’d like. Their debut album, Red in Tooth and Claw
, lent itself to a myriad of interpretations; both a serious and reflective experiment as well as a fun and indulgent foray into post-something
. The record was bold to say the least, and deceptively simplistic. It was gimmicky, sure, what with all the hullabaloo surrounding the scientific themes and weird mish-mash of influences. Yet despite all this it was a success, prompting much agony over the wait for their next outing. After three years, the Irish musical outfit has returned with The Sleep of Reason
, giving fans more of the same exciting and engaging stuff that comprised their debut.
When “Wolfwrangler” opens up at the album’s outset, it becomes immediately apparent that this is a BATS record through and through. The complex intertwining guitars and unpredictable time signatures give it all away, and this familiarity is only compounded when the delicious poppy hooks enter in. BATS make it all seem so effortless though, despite the chaos surrounding it all. What separates the band from their peers are moments like these, added to the beautiful delivery. It’s all so polished and so clean as well, with every moment coming off as crisp and succinct. Whereas some post-hardcore/punk acts like to lean towards a messier, more disorganized sound, it’s nice to hear a band that wishes to make every note perfect.
A big desire for those who fell in love with the band back in 2009 is for the band to retain their identity. With Red in Tooth and Claw
, BATS played with themes such as evolution, physics, and science fiction. Heavy stuff, but thanks to some incredibly clever writing, it came off as natural and interesting, rather than contrived and pretentious. The Sleep of Reason
continues this trend, albeit with much less subtlety. The pitfalls they so deftly avoided sort of catch them this time around. With “Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date,” as well as other selections, it wasn’t so obvious what the context was, causing listeners to pay extra close attention to arrive at their own conclusion. This time around, the scathing criticism found on “Stem Cells” and “Astonomy Astrology” is so blatantly stated that it comes off as unrefined and somewhat childish. The “in-your-face” approach works for some, but it’s a bit disappointing to see this intelligent band lose a bit of their tongue-in-cheek delivery.
That being said, BATS have upped their game in literally every other regard. The band sounds so much more focused this time around. The silly and fun instrumental wankery is much more tasteful, and feels like a necessary part of the entire work. Vocally, the mix of clean singing and raspy screams are as awesome as ever, with the former being much more prevalent. The songs themselves feature less filler overall, with the album as a whole feeling superbly well written. Each song is much more thought out giving The Sleep of Reason
one hell of a killer set of songs. It’s difficult to pick a standout track due to each having its own palpable energy. Whether it is the heavy and quirky “Heat Death,” or the absolutely epic title track, there really isn’t a bad moment to be found.
Admittedly, three years isn’t much of a wait at all, but that just goes to show the promise that the young band displayed. Thankfully, BATS don’t rest on their laurels, offering up an immensely engaging record that tops their debut in almost every facet. The Sleep of Reason
is one of the most fully realized records of the year; a mature and exciting piece of work from a band that is effortlessly making a name for themselves.