Review Summary: A record devoid of most cohesion or structure.
Oh, Sleeper is a metalcore band that comes from Texas, having a decent catalogue of Christianity-inspired records, with their previous foray into creating a concept album. It has been six years since their latest release "The Titan", and soon after, went silent before coming back with plans for a fourth full length album.
Bloodied/Unbowed was quite possibly my most anticipated album of 2019 in regards to metalcore, especially ever since their release "Children of Fire" which is now eight years old (if you ignore their EP that was released in 2013). I had been hoping for a reunion for quite some time, and lo and behold, it is finally here - so does it match up" Unfortunately, no, despite how the record desperately attempts to come off as a Children of Fire 2, within the lyrical themes and the instrumentation present on the album with a sound that is reaching for their previous effort, but production that matches their debut "When I Am God" rather than the refined production that had suited them so well.
Micah's vocals feel a bit more shrill than punchy this time around, which is a little off putting though he is still able to pull off low growls such as in "Decimation & Burial" (though he rarely does so) and true desperation in the unexpected bridge of "Fissure" with goes well with the airy atmosphere, and especially with the crushing, fast paced guitars before becoming chugs ever so briefly.
The musicianship is nothing to sneeze at itself, despite being rather basic though it sometimes it leads absolutely nowhere such as in "Mutinous" and "Oxygen", which almost feel like endless, continuous loops with the latter having an unnecessary chant smack dab in the chorus which ruins the incredible dynamic of the clean/harsh sounds that Micah and Blay are capable of producing.
Blay's clean vocals overpower tracks such as "Two Ships" and "The Summit", however, the former suddenly explodes with heavy guitars and slow, looming drums with no build up that suddenly forces all senses of serenity out from the track with no indication of a build up whatsoever, with the latter still maintaining an epic feel with strings playing in the background with vocals that are reminiscent of "Means to Believe" which maintains a build up without having to descend into madness.
However, though the songs may have a predictable verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge lay out, it still manages to shine in some ways, specifically with "The Island" and "Of Bane & Disease" where the screams almost sound manic at points with clean, pristine vocals soaring right past them in the chorus which only serves as a source of levity, and showcases their song-writing capability with Mayfield relentlessly pounding the drums on almost every track and the ferocity of the guitar work, though the latter struggles to deviate for much of the album despite still being satisfying to listen to.
Oh, Sleeper's "Bloodied/Unbowed" isn't quite an incredible feat for the band, but it is a solid release despite some cohesion being lost between the cracks of the past six years which has led them down an all too predictable road. At the least, they have proven themselves capable before; it's simply a matter of when they will do so once more.