Eternal Sleep
The Emptiness of....

With short and sweet songs Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania quartet Eternal Sleep work up a lardy, greasy metallic chunk n’ chug on their debut EP, The Emptiness Of…  There’s a stocking stuffed full of various human appendages and entrails to be found here, making the band’s sound a bit harder to pin down on any one particular track although heavy, sludge-fattened metal is the soup of the day at this truckstop and sensitive stomachs will probably find themselves compromised from the riff centric gut rip of Eternal Sleep’s low-end anchored scuzz.  Melody creeps in when you least expect it but the grinding grooves and jackhammering rhythms will see to it that you’ll have a hernia from all of the heavy lifting.  There’s also a mutilating, mid-tempo thrash nastiness abound here and some really technically jarring instrumental jukes give these nuts a pretty versatile arsenal.

The title track simulates an inbound freight train with industrial drum clatter and steam engine noise signifying an impending fatal derailment before “Last King Words” lays into a wraparound, doom-caked thrash riff, Joseph Sanderson’s gruff hardcore bellow mingling with detached spoken word, choppy percussive beatdowns full of tense hardcore stops n’ starts as bass lines comb the depths of hell for pure sonic gold.  There are shades of Slayer, Crowbar, Integrity, Relapse era 16, Neurosis, Blessing the Hogs, Bloodlet, Coalesce, Keelhaul, Craw and 23rd Chapter strewn throughout the band’s deadly landmine leg blow out.  They also keep their doomsday thrall succinctly in command of punk rock song lengths with the tune falling well below the 3 minute mark while not sacrificing any muscle or structure in the process.  “Red Herring” is a noose neck pull of locked on, staccato noise rock riffing played out over a thrashing, bash happy beat thanks to drummer Colin Bennington who piles on the fills, violence and vitriol.  Throbbing kick drum abuse propels the palm-muted thrash churns forward until the guitar-work descends into bruising breakdowns that walk a fine line between sheer metal overload and old fashioned hardcore stagger.  Bubbly, tribal tom rolls agitate a hornet’s nest of stinging, flesh piercing high-end noise guitar, paving the way for a doom-y, boot-to-the-throat breakdown backbreaker that’ll be sure to leave you a reservation for a hospital bed courtesy of a freshly shattered spinal column.

“Flesh/Blood” opens with an ominous droning bass note, but the songwriting takes a few unexpected intestinal twists n’ turns thereafter.  Travis Bennington’s aggressive thrash riffs wander into precision, Page Hamilton syncopation for the creation of an intoxicating, off-kilter groove riddled with bulletholes and brass knuckle face surgery.  Melodic, ringing open chords puncture through the chorus with Sanderson’s vocalizations reaching for strained clean notes that are surprisingly well-done and catchy enough to carve some Mt. Rushmore sized hooks.  The band’s press sheet mentions Eternal Sleep has an affinity for the heaviest in the Seattle underground (the almighty TAD for one) and I am certainly getting an aural whiff of that here.  Sparse cymbal taps and broken, atonal chord patterns lend “Typical Broken Heart” a begotten, derelict visage right from the get go as Ben Duty’s gristly, crystalline low-end lurches lead the charge on their own terms and provide some deep-seated clarity to the atmospheric build-up.  Spoken word passages soon erupt into full-throated screams, instigating explosions of filthy sludged-out, noise rock goodness that ascends the throne of antagonizing mid-tempo thrash with skin shedding riffs and taut snare fills showcasing the sheer dynamics of these maniacs.  Eventually, all listeners should make a mad dash for the surface because the band’s sound tunnel culminates with a breakdown so tough it’s the audio equivalent of a mineshaft collapse…the echoing, backmasked noise that follows its fatal crumble a graven hymn for those that didn’t make it out alive.

One of my favorite tunes on the album is “Parlor Tricks” with its grizzly, fuzz-caked opening riff and Colin’s technical razzle dazzle on the drums that’ll puncture your windpipe with a jabbing onslaught of hyper-speed fill surgery.  An uneasy, sludgy buzz chokes each thrash-y riff with a factory smog grip.  A doom-y bass drop sends the music into a frantic sewer gush that decreases its flow to a steady stream of hobbled sludge grooves.  The burly vocal screams are joined by melodic howls for a grungy dirty Alice in Chains feel, if AIC were lost in the streets of New York City after midnight and got involved in a back alley blood brawl.  Still, don’t let mentions of Seattle allow you to think that Eternal Sleep ever overly irrigates and cleans their audio frequencies because this song relies on pulverizing hardcore/metal throughout and focuses on the darker side of the Washington revolution.  Shrill, minor-key inflections incise their way to the top of “Revisionist’s” hardened epidermis where each cell is an armor-plated, impenetrable fortress of endlessly rolling, max-damage groove riffage.  Hoarse vocal roars bark militant orders over slummy breakdowns that turn into even slummier sludge/thrash-tinged, coke-nose switches.  At 2:30 the track implodes with the record’s heaviest, slimiest riff bar none!

“Straw Man” drew my ears happily to their deaths and deep into the band’s scalding sound in a whirlwind of tautly maniacal snare bashing, sarcastic vocal diatribes, whooshing amplifier squalls and a sudden personality change into a mental dark passenger of strikingly agile, serial killer sludge riffs, scattershot hardcore rhythmic shifts circa Coalesce’s landmark work on 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening and all sorts of in-the-red playing tactics.  Though Eternal Sleep’s psychotic freak-outs and their boiling meltdown into pasty dirge and throaty vocal roars can call to mind Coalesce, the fact of the matter is that Eternal Sleep takes their drudges lower, slower and swampier for a much more mud-rolled, mosquito bit assault that no direct comparison does justice to.  Opening with a droning, atonal noise-lick, the booming drum n’ basswork pushes the free-form ferocity of “Kenosis” forward with a lethal purpose and an opaque Killing Joke industrial bleakness.  The chording adopts a catacomb crawling, Middle Eastern temple topple where shouted vocals bounce, echo and reverberate amongst the hallowed walls as the deafening, tribal crunch of the tom-heavy drums is swallowed into a sucking sand whirlpool of oscillating noise-guitar repetitions and hazy distorted static in the vein of Soul at Zero Neurosis.  Closer “Never again a Harder Goodbye” ends the record on a note of mathematical time signatures facing up against the burly, full-on assaulting hardcore/sludge riffs, acerbic white wash guitar swipes and the maddening dexterity Colin enforces on the skins.  It is yet another picture perfect snapshot of the band’s exploration in riff-blasted lunacy.

The Emptiness Of… is a future hardcore classic in my book because it incorporates so many other stylistic swerves into a sound that’s heavy as fuck even when it reaches for more tuneful melodies.  It also helps that the band reminds me of everyone from Neurosis to Craw to Bloodlet to Slayer…  There are a fuckton of my favorite bands filtered into Eternal Sleep’s viscous melting pot of extremities and the band applies their influences with a ballsy, to the death ethos in their songwriting and jamming thusly winning me over in the form of a jawbreaking that never ceased to be enjoyable!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
May 19th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Kevin E.

    Awesome, awesome hardcore album (I was gonna review this one, but was obviously beat to it). If you like these guys you need to check out label mates Harm’s Way (best hardcore band on earth in my opinion) and God’s Hate, who had a release earlier this year which is killer.


  2. Commented by: Jay

    This album kicks total ass, Kevin. I’ll give Harm’s Way a listen today and God’s Hate. There’s not enough hardcore like this around these days, so I’ll certainly give an ear to anything in a similar vein. Thanks for the comment and the recommendations!


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