Sleep of Monsters - II: Poison Garden

by Amy Putman Rating:7 Release Date:2016-06-03

Sleep of Monsters shouldn't look like they do.  They should be made to have sleek hair and neon trousers.  They should look like Van Halen's gothier kids.

It's not that they sound like Van Halen at all.  It's not exactly that they're gothic either, though a couple of tracks have a strong hint.

It's more that they open this album with heavy Flash Gordon on speed - or, perhaps, an energised, sexy, contemporary alt version of the War of the Worlds musical - and then continues with leaden vocals whose thick accent is enticing and mysterious in equal measure.

What is really cool is how international my experience of this album was.  This is a Finnish band, whose music was recorded in Spain, listened to me in Yorkshire with a Polish friend.    

I'm a geek about globalisation.  I'm all for a planetary philosophy; a true world view.  Bring on a united earth, I say, and let Sleep of Monsters write the anthem for the One Human State. 

Ok, maybe that's only cool to me, but I reckon it's cool enough to share.

This album is cool enough to share. 

True, many of their songs sound the same, to the point that we thought the first few tracks were just one massive, ginormous, epic composition, but it was an interesting track that made me feel like I was a bit-part character in the story of the universe's coolest space opera.

Unfortunately, that feeling ebbed a little over the rest of the album.  The homogeny of sound is, on the one hand, pleasing, because it is a refined, calculated effect honed in years of practice; a quality that belongs entirely to this band.  On the other hand, the lack of internal variety made it a smidgen dull.  I want to praise this album, if only because the first glimpse made me so gorram goshdarnit happy, like an awesome aural kaleidoscope of metal and hope, but I think they could have pushed themselves to shake up the rest of the album a little bit.

I suppose what I'm saying is that, whilst I love the lead singer's timbre and tone, his voice can seem a touch monotone without strong backing.  Used judiciously it's splendid - dark and fruitful as a sexy ghoul - but they need to balance the band more, allowing the talent of the instrumentalists to shine equally, rather than having the bass, mouth-rumbling lyrics lead.

I would really love to hear this album sung in their native tongue.  Part of the problem, I think, was that certain sounds seemed to be a little laboured in pronunciation.  Often, that was charming, sensual, and tempting, but occasionally it was jarring, adding to the effort of listening and reducing the range of his voice.

On the other hand, the lyrics were pleasing, and the backing singers, when deployed, enthusiastically raised a choir to the sublime, whilst maintaining an edge of darkness.

The lingering effect of listening to this is half way between Sisters of Mercy circa This Corrosion and Ziltoid The Omniscient's second album, with the heaviness weighting slightly towards Ziltoid, and the composition Sisters of Mercy if they rewrote the works of HP Lovecraft as a distant galactic space opera.

In fact, I think all the issues with Poison Garden could be solved by making these guys into directors and letting them loose with cameras, actors, space ships and orchestras.  So, yeah, bring on those neon trousers; the eye shadow; the ironed locks.  Bring on Sleep of Monsters III: The movie.

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