Relief In Sleep


Written by: TL on 12/04/2014 16:04:14

When signing up to review a band I haven't previously been familiar with, my normal routine is to just chuck the record on a playlist and then research the band later. Occasionally, this can lead to some hiccups, like when I only realised today that the Tampa band Relief In Sleep not only re-issued their debut album "Godspeed" this year, but also recently put out the self-titled follow-up, making me question if it's not more likely that they intended for me to review the latter rather than the former. However, instead of waiting for our editor-in-chief to disentangle himself from hosting commitments to some Swedish couch surfer so he can figure it all out for me, I figure that since I've been listening to "Godspeed" anyway, why not just give it a review now and then potentially have a look at "Relief In Sleep" afterwards?

With "Godspeed", Relief In Sleep have debuted in the narrow niche that is female-fronted melodic metalcore, immediately sounding comparable to the likes of Brighter Than A Thousand Suns or Eyes Set To Kill, bordering perhaps even on Euro-metallers Deadlock and once-popular ambient rockers VersaEmerge. Their guitars echo cinematically and heavily across a dramatic soundscape while singer Kara Dennis provides the lead vocals with pathos at an all time high. Her high, sharp tone might take a bit of getting used to, especially courtesy of the hint of a digital sheen it has here, but mostly she sounds proficient enough that any weak or simple moments can be forgiven in return for the undeniably recognisable moments that "Godspeed" does unquestionably deliver.

You need to listen no further than the first two songs, "Godspeed" and "Clouded", to make such analysis, as both display that the band has the requisite sense of dynamics, timing and melody down, even if their sound isn't quite developed to the point where they make an immediate entry in the top layer of the scene - rather perhaps slightly below it. You'll know as much when you find yourself singing lines like "I waited up for your caaaaaaall" or "Do your fingers play the game?" despite yourself, even before you've probably decided just what you think of the record.

Starting out hard-pumped, the album hits a bit of a lull in tracks four and five before getting a nice change of pace in "Collide", which echoes the styles of Saosin and Secret & Whisper. Again the lead vocals don't have the top shelf touch of elegance to them, but the strength of the signature melodies and the heavier dynamics is unmistakeable - They get the job done, even while being a touch generic, and both the clean and harsh male vocal responses appear in well-timed manner. "A Mouthful Of Words" then takes a post-rock turn in an intro which eventually descends to some djent/prog-lite, which fans of Night Verses may compare to that band's more Tool-ish moments. These increasingly metallic touches continue into "Soul Decode", which features some downright gnarly screaming on Dennis' part that wouldn't be unwelcome in a more recurring capacity if the band can apply it as seamlessly as here.

Overall, "Godspeed" strikes me as a really solid debut record. It's the slightly hard-to-place sort though, because it clearly doesn't have the sharply defined personality or the unmistakeable finish in production that characterise bands that you immediately recognise as contenders. And that's the kind of feeling that can fool you into thinking this is a worse record than its efficient - if slightly simple - compositions imply, which is a shame because as closer "Airplanes" rings out with more memorable refrains, there's good reason to feel like going back and pressing repeat a couple of times, even if "Godspeed" isn't quite going to be the among the flashiest records you impress your friends by listening to this year.


Download: Godspeed, Clouded, Collide
For The Fans Of: Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, Eyes Set To Kill, VersaEmerge

Release date 14.01.2014
Imminence Records

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