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Metalcore Icons Oh, Sleeper Awake Again With “Bloodied / Unbowed”

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Much like the art of metalcore itself, Oh, Sleeper has survived a lot. After every last falter, they have emerged once more with an even sharper technical game than before. The Fort Worth four-piece has had members of Wovenwar, Terminal, and Between The Buried And Me join its ranks, but the vast skill set on offer ultimately stabilized the troupe throughout the chaos of lineup changes. After a hiatus following Warped Tour 2013, the icons of core are back with their fourth full-length Bloodied / Unbowed. Presenting an album ripe with nautical-themed storytelling, Oh, Sleeper proves they are a giant awakened from its slumber, ready to pummel with swift swings.

To recap, Oh, Sleeper’s first full-length When I Am God dropped in October of 2007, aka the height of mainstream metalcore. The 360p portrait of a family corrupted by an excess of money and medication in the video for album opener “Vices Like Vipers” embodies the breakdown-accompanied thematics that ruled the proverbial roost. Yet Oh, Sleeper also demonstrated the talent needed to execute fluttering arpeggios and off-the-wall riffing, which cemented their potential to be enjoyed as more than just a simple nostalgia trip. Son of the Mourning (2009) and Children of Fire (2011) provided room for the troupe to experiment, and ultimately, age gracefully past the golden era of their craft’s trendiness.

While Bloodied / Unbowed is an exceptionally clean, no-nonsense offering from the force, have no fear — a sense of what made us fell in love with them in the first place is retained. The softly mythological elements also displayed by colleagues Alesana and Underoath live on in Bloodied / Unbowed‘s conceptual storytelling. The album is, in fact, a continuation of the 2013 EP The Titan, which served as their final offering prior to the decision to go on hiatus. As with any good fable, fans are weighing in on the potential meaning to be found in the single “The Island.” Is Oh, Sleeper–who have professed Christian leanings in the past–standing by their faith, or experiencing a new awakening? It is ambiguous as to whether lines like no gods, no masters are being spoken by a tempting idol or a preaching protagonist.

What is more certain is the depth of Bloodied / Unbowed‘s composition. With a heavy dose of metal and a slight dash of core where it counts, tracks like “Fissure” and “Pulse Over Throne” present mile-a-minute drumming and guitar work showcased by squeaky clean production. The collective vocal efforts of Micah Kinard and Shane Blay strike an accessible balance of clean and unclean vocals, which adds an extra pop of dimension against the varied instrumentals. Most notably, the muted tones that float throughout “The Island” also provide a post-rock edge, further marking Oh, Sleeper’s place in the wake of another decade. Undoubtedly, Bloodied / Unbowed is an example of how just a little rest can allow old and new to marinate into a flavor of the future.

Check out the lyric video for “The Island” streaming below.<\em>

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Bloodied / Unbowed<\em> is out July 12 on Solid State. Follow Oh, Sleeper on Facebook.

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