Sleepwave
Broken Compass


4.0
excellent

Review

by bentheREDfan USER (76 Reviews)
December 31st, 2018 | 12 replies


Release Date: 09/16/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Taking the mask away.

Introducing a previously hidden, different part of yourself to those around you can be difficult. It leaves you vulnerable and exposed, especially when the side of yourself you have already revealed is looked upon with amicable elation. Spencer Chamberlain, known most famously as the vocalist of metal titans Underoath, possibly felt this way when he released his (at-the-time) new project Broken Compass under the name of Sleepwave.

For starters, Sleepwave isn’t a metal band, not primarily. There’s definitely some metal-inspired moments on this album, but largely, the record is an amalgamation of 90s-inspired, riff-driven industrial rock, ambient ballads, and a sprinkle of alternative metal. While it would’ve been nice to see some of the tracks genre-blend, rather than fit rather easily in the aforementioned genres, Broken Compass is an awesome collection of songs.

The electric guitar work is tight and punchy, and though not the most technical, carves its way into the sonic pallet of the listener’s brain. The bass holds its own as well, providing a thick backdrop to the riffs when it needs to, but also pushing forward frequently enough to be well heard and appreciated in the mix. As for the drums, they are an absolute highlight: they groove, chill, and blast away throughout the journey. Chamberlain, who at this point in his public career hadn’t done near this much singing, is a surprisingly proficient vocalist; his voice recalls the grit and struggle of the early grunge days, yet also rings out with a clear melodic glint. What few screams that are here are vicious and decimating. The production, perhaps as expected, is absolutely stellar. Every instrument, every sonic element, is easily recognizable and shimmers with a clean, but not obsessively sterile, sheen.

These ingredients are perfectly well and good, but without the following two, this record would be nothing more than a slightly above average rock effort. Let’s begin with the electronics. Broken Compass is perhaps one of the best albums at blending traditional rock elements with electronica. The album is full of little hidden, technological goodies that make it a fantastic headphone album, but the appeal goes beyond that. The electronics serve to drag the listener into the world of Broken Compass, whether by wooing them into a lovelorn state, pushing them into an adrenaline-fueled boxing match, yanking them eagerly onto the dance floor, or simply allowing them to reflect. They are exceedingly pleasing, both on an aesthetic and a deeper level.

Speaking of a deeper level, the texts throughout the project are truly something else. This is an unmistakably impactful, dark journey through pain, loss, hope, hatred, confusion, and ultimately redemption. It isn’t a concept album, and you don’t have to listen to it as one, but it isn’t hard to examine the lyrics as a whole and construct a story out of them. There are only a couple times where the lyrics get obvious and it's difficult to interpret them as anything else but what they clearly are; most of the time, the listener is left to decide how and why this record applies to them personally. Another creative touch is the way certain phrases, either from other tracks on the album or Spencer’s past work with Underoath, pop into different tracks. This provides a sense of cohesion and unity that only serves to further drag the listener into the atmosphere of Compass.

Broken Compass isn’t a perfect album; as hinted at, its largest problem is a lack of innovation in the structuring of these tracks. It would’ve been nice to see a track that blended the heavier moments, the lighter moments, and the mid-tempo moments all-together, and it gets close in the title track but doesn't ever quite hit the mark. Also, while some tracks spice up the traditional song structure quite nicely and provide a kind of comfortable unfamiliarity, most stick to the standard to the letter.

Even with those negatives, Broken Compass will easily satisfy lovers of 90s grunge, industrial rock enthusiasts, or alt metal-heads on a sonic level. But on a lyrical level, the emotionally-charged stories presented here make Broken Compass an easily recommended journey for any lover of honest, no-holds-barred writing. Mr. Chamberlain, nice to meet the other half of you, now it’s about time for another Sleepwave project.

THE EP(Songs that best represent what the album has to offer):
“Rock And Roll Is Dead And So Am I”
“Inner Body Revolt”
“The Wolf”
“Hold Up My Head”
“Whole Again”
“Through The Looking Glass”
“Broken Compass”



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Comments:Add a Comment 
bentheREDfan
December 31st 2018


487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This already had a review, but that one wasn't received too well so I wanted to try my hand at it. This is a really cool album. Can definitely see some of it in Erase Me, but Erase Me is heavier and more experimental IMO.

ktjammin
December 31st 2018


174 Comments


Nice review. I’ve never listened to this album, but Sleepwave were good when I saw them open for Norma Jean a few years back. I’ll have to check this. I wasn’t too keen on Erase Me, but Spencer was a beast on Ø so I’m interested.

Digging: Wristmeetrazor - Misery Never Forgets

bentheREDfan
December 31st 2018


487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you Ktjammin! Honestly, while this probably sounds closest to Erase Me out of all of Oath's discog, this is pretty separate from anything that group has done. If you want to see Spencer flex more of his 90s influences with a modern twist, you'll dig this. But there's definitely nothing like "A Divine Eradication" or "In Regards to Myself" on here; don't go into this amped for a metalcore juggernaut haha. Have a good one, buddy!

AgentDeathbat
December 31st 2018


5855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review! I'm probably going to have to revisit this soon.

Digging: Deftones - Diamond Eyes

SlicePaperMoog
December 31st 2018


296 Comments


The albums is kinda just watered down pop Filter/NIN songs but its still not bad. Pretty enjoyable once in a while, liked it a lot more when it first came out.

ktjammin
December 31st 2018


174 Comments


Right, I remember liking Sleepwave live and I’ve been on a big Underoath kick lately so I’ll give this a listen. I might have enjoyed Erase Me more were it not attached to UØ’s name; it just really lacked any ferocity the prior albums had. I’ll be sure to look into this not expecting to hear Disambiguation pt. 2 haha

SlicePaperMoog
December 31st 2018


296 Comments


Erase Me wasnt bad as there isnt a single bad Underoath album but its easily the weakest Spencer album. I wouldve liked it more if they focused more on the electronics and less on the pop hools plus some riffs that are more like DTGL or Disambig.

bentheREDfan
December 31st 2018


487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@KTJammin I realized after I posted my first reply to you that some of what I said was a bit redundant given that you already acknowledging liking them live haha. My bad!



@SlicePaperMoog It's definitely got that pop vibe to it, but I do like that it's more accessible than Filter or NIN. Erase Me is my favorite Underoath album, but it's also much closer to my preferred style of music. I love the massive amount of electronics and pop influence tbh.

ktjammin
December 31st 2018


174 Comments


Yeah, it was like hearing a sterilized They’re Only Chasing Safety— lots of hooks, but none of them were sticky and catchy and it was just too clean. Disambig and DTGL are my favorites by them so I’d have to agree, I dug the glitchy stuff on Disambig and wished they would have expanded on that. Anyway, sorry for ranting on the Sleepwave thread.

Edit: @Ben — no problem! Sorry for derailing the discussion haha

AgentDeathbat
December 31st 2018


5855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had almost zero experience with Underoath aside from trying to get into DTGL years ago and not getting it, Erase Me definitely got me further into them and for that I'm pretty grateful for its existence, if not for it I don't think I would have three Underoath 5's at this point.

bentheREDfan
December 31st 2018


487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@KTjammin no worries bud!



@AgentDeathBat I agree, couldn't get into DTGL myself, always was drawn much more to Safety and Disambiguation so Erase Me really hit the spot for myself.

AgentDeathbat
December 31st 2018


5855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I kind of just went without aside from the odd song or two (Desperate Times, Desperate Measures was one of the only tracks that clicked at the time before I tried again) and now I love almost all Underoath!



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