Sleepwalkers
Hollowpath EP

It wasn’t long ago that the albums you heard mostly depended on what was worth your money. With more and more music becoming easily, cheaply, and often freely accessible via services like Spotify, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, iTunes and all the full-album streams that labels are surprisingly eager to post, what you listen to nowadays is more a question of what’s worth your time (unless you’re a strict, analog-only listener, in which case, money is still a huge factor). I’m happy to take advantage of all avenues in my endless search for captivating music and one of my favorite new discoveries is the freely downloadable debut EP from Texan death/doom newcomers, Sleepwalkers, which has proven to be worth much more than the mere 27:05 minutes it costs to hear it.

Hollowpath wears its influences on its sleeve, but they’re rendered with care and precision beyond the band’s years. What’s even more amazing is the fact that it’s primarily the work of one talented individual. Vocals are handled by Caleb Bergen, and his powerful roar fits the music perfectly, but all songwriting, production, guitar, bass, drums, and even graphic design are the product of Mike Watts. It’s obvious that Watts has made profound sacrifices upon the altar of Renske, Blakkheim, and Norrman because he has already mastered that rare brand of melancholy rooted in the gothic/black/death/doom of early Katatonia and later standardized by October Tide, Rapture, and Daylight Dies. In fact, Hollowpath could easily be mistaken for a long-lost companion EP to October Tide’s Grey Dawn and actually surpasses what that band is doing now in terms of emotional impact.

The opening title track immediately recalls the hypnotic, mesmerizing feeling of Katatonia’s Brave Murder Day, except the thicker, warmer production provides a more inviting feel. “Sliver of Salvation” and “The Burning Oracle” both march and swagger right along with the same confident stride as October Tide. Some subtle synths and clarion chords reminiscent of Rapture’s first (and best) are used to powerful effect, but Watts stops short of any clean vocals, symphonics, or other bric-a-brac you sometimes get in this genre. This all-too-brief EP closes with “Netherworld,” which begins with some chunkier guitars, but ends in beautiful melancholia.

This EP is a labor of love that deserves a nice physical incarnation. I could see it being released by Hypnotic Dirge Records, Naturmacht Productions, Eisenwald, or Solitude Productions. Hopefully one of them is smart enough to pick these guys up for their next outing.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
October 25th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: stiffy

    Good EP. Great review!


  2. Commented by: Mike Watts

    Thanks for the review!


  3. Commented by: Adam Palm

    Thanks for the music, Mike! I look forward to seeing your next recording on a label and in some nice packaging.


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