Seven Sisters of Sleep - Opium Morals
A389 Recordings
10 songs (33:09)
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Koeppe

A389 are an interesting label, with quite a few hardcore acts, but also quite a few of the burgeoning quality acts that play a sort of thick, dissonant, sludgy metal that crosses over into hardcore territory. Seven Sisters of Sleep, named after Mordecai Cooke’s Victorian-era book on drugs, reside in that amorphously ambiguous genre space, where they incorporate metal, hardcore, sludge and even stoner elements into their sound in order to lay waste to their audience.

Seven Sisters’ self-titled debut wasn’t a bad effort, but, despite the amazing groove that the riffs exhibited, due to the production, the album only ever seemed a non-confrontational rockin’ mid-pace hardcore albums with distant vocals. Opium Morals, however, hits hard from the start with album opener, Ghost Plains, beginning at a death-doom pace before shifting gears into a solid hardcore clip. The guys show their prowess in the art of the almighty riff, before the track closes at a snail’s pace of growls and dissonance. Relative to their last album, the production here is spectacular; the vocals really stand out, confronting the listener. The complexity of the layering of sound gives the overall album a much deeper sound, that at moments calls to mind the sounds of technical death-doom acts like Ulcerate or Inter Arma, prior to the sludgy hardcore sections of the songs. The intro to Moths showcases the band’s sludge credentials, never being quite as dissonant or piercing as Ulcerate’s unique sound, but shows the band trying to work with dynamics and contrast in a way that doesn’t require them to be as affronting as more technical death metal acts are. And build-ups, like the one in Moths or in Orphans, do so much work that Seven Sisters is really distinguishing themselves from other acts in terms of combining the elements of doom and hardcore within the sludge scene to create something truly interesting.

In terms of a more direct comparison, as to what does Seven Sisters of Sleep sound like in a nutshell, with the vocals being reminiscent of Matt Pike’s latest efforts at times, they sound like a more death metal and hardcore tinged version of High on Fire, that opts not to mimic Pike’s guitar virtuosity and sticks to breakdowns and post-metal crescendos of cymbal crashes on repeat. Sunday Mass Grave, for instance, sounds like Frosthammer brought down a notch in pace. Their layer of fuzzed out production might mask their talent in a type of malaise on first listen, but the album is rewarding on further listen. The riffs will come to stick out, and these guys do write some mean riffs. Tracks like Reaper Christ and Grindstone show off their willingness to sludgily tarry in a riff, resorting to wails to pull the listener out of the groove before hopping right back into it. As a sophomore effort, these guys really moved forward from where they started and are doing something really interesting. Nothing radically new, but worthy of people's attention. Whether people give them a chance or not is what it really comes down to.

For a measly five dollars, you can score their album here on their Bandcamp, or simply stream it for free. Label efforts, like those of A389 but also Relapse, Prosthetic Records and others, to put their entire catalogs on Bandcamp should be supported as an effort to circumvent the old label process and provide access to the music for fans. Plus Bandcamp takes less of a cut from acts than iTunes. Rather than illegally download it, listen to it through them and buy it if you want to take it somewhere.

Killing Songs :
Moths, Grindstone, Reaper Christ, Recitation Fire
Koeppe quoted 72 / 100
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