Long Island’s The Sleeping have been an interesting band to watch evolve musically since their 2004 debut Believe What We Tell You. The unique voice of vocalist Douglas Robinson coupled with the jazzy, technically proficient guitar playing of Cameron Keym, a bassist not afraid to play louder than the guitarist, and an above-average drummer turned them from a seemingly generic post-hardcore band on paper to a fantastic post-hardcore band on record. Following the departure of Keym in 2008, the band turned to a louder, heavier brand of post-hardcore driven by heavy guitar tones and horror movie-themed Theremin on last year’s What it Takes. While not without its moments, the album felt too monotonous and was ultimately of lower quality than the previous album, Questions & Answers. Luckily for The Sleeping, with The Big Deep they take one step away from What it Takes and take one step forward toward Questions & Answers, which results in a great fusion of their older and newer sound and also some of their most inspired work to date.
“Dark Days” kicks off the album, and furthermore sets the mood for the whole record. Lush instrumentation coupled with some of their most inspired songwriting to date makes it one of the best songs in their catalog. As the song titles would tell you, there’s overall a darker mood and lyrical subject on The Big Deep. Rather than Doug Robinson’s vocals taking the forefront, they are often pushed to the background to let the music be overtaken by the strange atmosphere the synths, instruments and production often evokes. While this change may not be welcomed with open arms by every fan of The Sleeping, it’s clear that they’re being who they want to be and succeeding on The Big Deep. Unlike previous albums, the songs rarely feel forced, and everyone seems to be in their element the vast majority of the time.
The atmosphere that’s ever present on The Big Deep makes it harder for the listener to instantly latch on to the music, but the result is arguably just as rewarding as the band’s previous albums, if not more so. Thumping bass grooves and eerily melodic keys may drive the sound more than one would want, but The Sleeping has always been an ever-evolving band. The pulsating electronics of songs such as “Beautiful Gloom” or “Deafening the UK” take the place of the Theremin that propelled What it Takes, but it serves their sound and the moods they attempt (and succeed) at stirring up.
In short, very little on The Big Deep will be as instantly appealing to the senses as The Sleeping’s previous albums, but it also gives The Big Deep a longer shelf life and staying power that many instantly appealing records sorely lack. The gloomy atmosphere engulfs the senses, as if the songs are begging not to be left as background music. It demands attention, in a way – even though the album is far from a commercial effort. The Sleeping will get attention for The Big Deep, not because of the album’s commercial viability, but because it shows the band at their most inspired and natural state, and that’s something to write home about.
2. Boroughs of the Ocean
3. Beautiful Gloom
4. Retiring Spies (Change Your Life)
5. Deafening the UK
6. The Phantom of Darker Clouds
7. Oh, Gloria
8. Get You Back
9. The Big Deep
10. Black Waves (Vaya Con Dios)
11. Young Vibes... Don't Run Away From Me
The Sleeping, consisting of a few of the original members of Long Island's now defunct metalcore group Skycamefalling, was formed after skycamefalling's last show at Hellfest '03. Living on after the legacy of SCF - Doug Robinson, Cameron Keym, Sal Mignano, and Joseph Zizzo continue to develop and write music that we now know and love.
With a drastic change from the hardcore scene, the Sleeping is now considered to be post-hardcore/rock/alternative, and has played with bands such as Halifax, Silverstein, Bayside, Stretch Armstrong, Spitalfield and Haste the Day.