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Awake The Sun – The Barren Sleep

Awake The Sun
The Barren Sleep
by Anton Sanatov at 05 July 2016, 4:12 PM

Everyone sees things differently. To one, the moon is a snow-white cookie that aches for a licking overtime you see it before bed; to another it's just that glaring ball that prevents one from sleep. And of course there are those, to whom it is a precious melancholy pearl that graces the sky on that odd night of worship.

You do not need be a raging lycanthrope to get a rise from the round medallion in the blackened skies; you can simply be a metalhead. Doom Metal in particular possesses a certain nocturnal aesthetic that perhaps makes its fans have a special relationship with the moon; one that makes them want to howl. Unfortunately, on "The Barren Sleep", AWAKE THE SUN's devotion to shunning away the rays of dawn often leaves their music rather unenlightened.

Frankly, I was actually surprised that I wasn't more enamoured with this record; for it has all the qualities of a good one. It maintains consistent subject matter, a strong stylistic tone, and great overall quality. And yet there is also a persistent void that presides throughout its duration that all these factors just cannot fill. It is simply quite…boring.

Granted that Doom Metal is not known for it vivacity, but it may nevertheless contain moments of passion that liven up the gloomy listener; regrettably, "The Barren Sleep" does not. Given this record's sombre intentions, the majority of the songs maintain a lugubrious, catatonic pace. However, instead of using said tempos to create tracks that are filled with emotional intensity, the songs appear flat and somewhat unenthused. Numbers like "No Sun", "Snow Stained Heart" and "The Withering" crawl through their run-times with formulaic riffs, frigid vocals and hackneyed, double-bass fixated drumming. The blatantly overstated pinch harmonics do make an effort to perk-up the tracks but instead end up being yet another clichéd distraction.

AWAKE THE SUN do become more committed to their project on the second half of the album, and with tracks like "Distant Calling", "Empire" and "Redemption" even seem to break out of their awkward shells and light some fires in the plain, directionless darkness of this album; yet those moments are far too scarce to illuminate the way to something effective.

The production on the record is perhaps its highest point. Even though it is overly polished - as well as far too thin and brittle - it is nonetheless very crisp and makes for an exemplary atmospheric experience. Yet whilst the ambient elements colour the tracks nicely - and the mix too is top-notch - the instruments still sound too shrill and over-saturated with effects to make any thorough impact upon the listener.

Overall, "The Barren Sleep" seems more like an exercise in ennui than a meditation on doom. Even though it has its moments - and is surely a competent record - it is an offering created solely for the most devoted fans. And whilst some may appreciate its essence, it will most likely lullaby everyone else into deep, tedious hibernation.
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 4
Memorability: 5
Production: 7

2 Star Rating

  1. Awake
  2. No Sun
  3. Snow Stained Heart
  4. The Whitering
  5. Distant Calling
  6. Empire
  7. Hours
  8. Redemption
Nicola Mel - Vocals
Giuliano Marzola - Guitars & Programming
Matteo Frare - Guitars
Alessandro Girardi - Drums
Francesco Gargan - Bass
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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Edited 26 March 2023

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