Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Sleeping Gods - Above and Beyond (1995)

I can't remember what classic album cover this one reminds me of, it's obviously a tribute or parody of some sort and entirely too goofy to adorn a doom metal album, which is more or less what the Sleeping Gods debut represents. Above and Beyond is an introduction to another long lost of the German Goth metal bands that probably had a little more fuel in their tanks than we would give them credit for, released independently at first and enough to get them signed over to the local AFM label which most of you will probably recognize more for its heavy/power metal, but has always been willing to show some support in other niches if they hear some potential...which the Sleeping Gods do possess.

Even here, on this cruder, early material, they've got a sense for using sad melodies amidst the heavier drudge of chords, gruff guttural vocals, and a decent production for such a lower budget release. The obvious comparison is Pyogenesis, and if you told me that this was an unreleased Pyogenesis album I wouldn't blink for a second of disbelief. The songs aren't quite so sticky and heart-warming as Sweet X-Rated Nothings, but just the guitar tone and vocal are enough to feel like they are nearly a doppelganger. The songs are simpler, rocking but not without a little mood and depth do the darker disposition of those vocals, but they often fail to escalate into some truly worthy chorus. I also felt like a few of the drums were weak, and the guitar tone on the little leads is just too thin and wimpy to really deserve its place above the fatter rhythm tracks.

They're not above a few risks like the female operatic guest vocal in "Blood is Thicker Than Water", which instantly elevates that track to another level of interest, although otherwise it sounds like an outtake from Sweet X-Rated Nothings. The dreary ballad "Viviane's Lamentation" brings those vocals back, and once again that automatically makes it stand out because of the contrast between her high pitch and the moody low-end, but they bungle that up with some boring clean male vocals and it does end up a little amateurish. At any rate, while far from terrible, this is the weakest of the Sleeping Gods' three albums, enough for a curiosity when you're deep diving through this scene, but not an enduring work by any means.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]

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