The Sleeper Awakens
posted on 6/2010 By:
In the embrace of eternal darkness, beyond life, beyond death, beyond Heaven, Beyond Hell, it is suspended. A spirit? A soul? A thought. Hate. Hate unwavering, hate unending, hate…for all life! For an eternal second or a fleeting eon it has existed in this timeless void until, at the whim of some dark force, some cruel god (Satan? Yog Sothoth?), it is called back. Back to the world of the living. Back to the earth in which its mortal shell lies mouldering. Fall to thy knees in fear all men, fear of the approaching doom. For somewhere, in the foetid soil of an unmarked grave, a desiccated corpse in its wooden prison…stirs. From apocalyptic dreams, The Sleeper Awakens.
Hailing from upturned graves in Missouri and Texas, Beyond Hell bill themselves as “true horror, true death” and by the tentacles of Cthulu, I believe them. Beyond Hell’s tales of death and doom on The Sleeper Awakens (and the included EP …And Evil Crept Through) harken back to the early years of death metal, when horror obsessed teenagers gave birth to such classics as Slowly We Rot, Severed Survival and Scream Bloody Gore. Complimenting the band’s classic sound is a crusty old-school production job to match. The album’s low end throbs like the pulse of a beating heart, the guitars claw and bite with a feral hunger and the drums sound like drums used to sound before the double bass arms race, i.e., real drums.
The Sleeper Awakens contains no real duds, but tracks like “The World Burns Forever” and “The Way of Death” are, though expertly performed and exquisitely evil, fairly standard old school death metal numbers. On songs such as “Approaching Doom,” the title track and “Embrace the Eternal Darkness,” Beyond Hell flexes more compositional muscle. “Approaching Doom” manages to merge the raw savagery of early Death with the guitar heroics of later Death. The title track is bookended by a somber intro and outro featuring some acoustic guitar and melodic soloing, while the middle of the track is a composed of an insistent head bobbing groove and some high speed, harmonized tremolo riffs. “Embrace the Eternal Darkness” is a monolith of creeping doom that gradually builds to a climax of frenetic fretwork that conjures the image of people frantically fleeing some nameless horror.
The only really noticeable flaw on The Sleeper Awakens involves guitarist/bassist, Ghastly Shredder. Shredder’s lead playing is an integral part of Beyond Hell’s sound that helps establish the band as more than just another ham-fisted retro-death act. However, Shredder has the tendency to rely on the same sweep arpeggio lick in much the same manner that Zakk Wylde relies on pinch harmonics, which may cause some to view Shredder as a one trick pony.
Beyond Hell’s old-school horror/doom/death metal will not appeal to everyone, but there is no denying that The Sleeper Awakens is the work of a band that has its act together. Beyond Hell has managed a perfect union of vision and execution. Music, lyrics and production all contribute to the realization of the band’s horror theme, and that, even if it is ugly brooding death metal, is a beautiful thing.
Please note: Due to software limitations Dark Descent is the only label listed for this release. However, The Sleeper Awakens is, in fact, a joint release by both Dark Descent, and Skeleton Plague Records.
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