Oh boy, what happened?
There’s nothing wrong with members of a now defunct band venturing into different musical territory, exploring new themes, sounds, and ideas. In fact, I support that type of drive and behavior fully. It’s a much more favorable act than being stuck in a rut for the duration of a career. However, as with anything, exceptions exist, and the Sleeping -- they are that exception.
Rising from the ashes of `90s metalcore giants Skycamefalling, guitarist Cameron Keym and bassist Sal Mignano have decided their direction in four simple words: “less core, more bore.” I couldn’t think of a more suiting way to look at the Sleeping. Adding drummer Joe Zizzo and singer Doug Robinson, the band began writing together in late 2003 and released their debut Believe What We Tell You in 2004, with their recent Questions and Answers showing the unfortunate truth: that Keym and Mignano are a shell of what they used to be.
Contrary to what the wizards on the Victory Records press team would lead you to believe, there is nothing ‘dynamic,’ ‘innovative,’ or ‘original’ about this band. No, I’m sorry to report, these are the same old tunes that so many “nü-emo” bands have been writing now for years. Aside from singer Doug Robinson having a fairly mellow, and fairly solid vocal delivery, there’s nothing else to hold these songs together. It’s just a recurring feeling that if the band had gone with the more reserved sounds of songs like “King of Hearts” all the way through, they’d have a better product to show for it. Instead, many of the tracks feature riffs or screams that either don’t fit the mood, or don’t fit the rhythm, and because of it the flow of the entire album is slowed, if not halted completely.
Following “King of Hearts” is “3 Cigarettes,” a song that proves that point to a 'T.' When the band attempts to attain that more hard-edged sound, it feels forced, it feels contrived, and almost completely unnatural. The chords have some bite, but the ‘strain’ on the vocals is painful, and there’s little or no direction to be found; instead, the band opts to repeat themselves ad nauseum throughout the course of what’s only a three-minute song. Clichéd lyrics and unoriginal themes don’t do much to help matters, and one may feel the inclination that they’re trying too hard to replicate the ‘wit’ found on Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends. It’s not quite a copy, but many of the lines and ways that those lines are implemented sound straight out of “Cute without the 'E'.”
As a rather large fan of Skycamefalling, it hurts to see what this band has become. It hurts to see members of a band so full of passion and intensity relegate themselves to something that I’m sure they all know damn well is a capitalization on a trend gone bad. Had even they tinkered some more, mellowed out the sound, and gone with what felt right, the things I’ve said in this review would not have needed to be said at all.