Void of Sleep
New World Order

Italy’s Void of Sleep stormed out of the blocks with their accomplished 2013 debut album, Tales Between Reality and Madness. It was a hugely impressive, potential packed debut which certainly got me excited about their future. The sound was a versatile mixture of progressive sludge rock and thick stoner metal groove coupled with the band’s ambitious and memorable songcraft. The band has endured some hiccups in the intervening years, including having all their gear stolen at a gig in Rome. But like the talented and resilient lads that they are, Void of Sleep has re-emerged with their sophomore album, New World Order.

First and foremost the band has undergone quite a significant transformation since the debut. While the label ‘progressive sludge’ still applies, New World Order is a very different beast compared to the debut. Whereas the knotty exploratory song structures of Tales were underpinned by a more straightforward stoner metal punch and groove, New World Order features a sharper, edgier mode of attack which finds Void of Sleep ramping-up their proggy and psych doom tendencies into a darker and grittier sound. The adjustment in sound was initially a touch jarring, but the quality of the song-writing and the band’s confident stride forward with their music has thankfully won me over.

New World Order is razor sharp in most respects. The compositions are tighter and more complex and fluid; built upon a restlessly inventive drum and bass rhythm combo and fleshed out by the intricate and textured guitar work which hits a sweet spot of melody, adventure and groove. And although the guitar work takes on a more unpredictable and psychedelic path, those bulldozing bluesy doom riffs that were such a joy on Tales are rarely in short supply here. Spindly guitar melodies, probing basslines and off kilter rhythms collide with dreary vocal hooks on the edgy and melancholic opener ‘The Devil’s Conjuration”. It’s a solid start to the album that reinforces the slight stylistic tweaks and harder hitting execution on this second LP. “Hidden Revelations” takes a livelier turn and is a potent and emotive slice of angular prog and meatier sludge metal force. The song takes some interesting twists and turns without ever losing its structure.

Burdo’s vocals lend a strong melodic sensibility and accessible slant to the band’s psych-prog jams. His versatile vocals were a standout on the debut and here the dude lifts his game to another level. Both his predominant cleans and heavier vocal styles sound more confident and refined, to the point where he almost sounds like a different singer compared with his performance on the debut. Fear not however as just like the previous offering his vocals are a clear strength to the Void of Sleep formula. His confident phrasing and emotive melodic hooks are scattered generously throughout the album, counteracting the less immediate and challenging musical aspects with engaging vocal melodies. The band stays on the front foot on powerhouse, signature Void of Sleep tunes like “Slaves will Serve”, ensuring the song-writing doesn’t veer too alarmingly off course. Void of Sleep closes out the album with the complex proggy stoner jam of 14 minute epic “Ending Theme’, which manages to grip from start to finish despite its mammoth length.

Aside from a disposable interlude New World Order is a fairly consistent, rocking affair, even if the hooks don’t quite sink as deep as the debut. Production has been improved as well, sounding crisper and more refined while still featuring a solid bottom heavy punch, with the prominent presence of the bass a clear standout.

As solid and confident an album as New World Order is, I must admit the element of surprise and the more instantly memorable and hooky material from the debut certainly created a greater impact. Nevertheless, Void of Sleep has shown a willingness to push forward into a challenging and exciting new dimension and with this they mostly succeed with a solid and adventurous sophomore album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
January 14th, 2016


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