We Sell The Dead
Black Sleep

I want to start out by saying I first heard of We Sell The Dead because of the involvement of former drummer for HIM, Mika “Gas Lipstick” Karppinen. Yeah, I know I ruined what little metal “cred” I imagined myself even having right off the bat, dear reader. So, if you wish to back out of this now, I won’t begrudge you.

If it helps, the former drummer of the now defunct HIM, is no longer in the band. So, there’s that. Also, “love metal” this is not. Traditional metal this is and there’s nothing wrong with it. However, I feel I would not be doing my duty if I did not mention members of the band and their most famous projects, even though they share little to nothing in common with We Sell The Dead. On guitar, of In Flames and Engel fame is Niclas Engelin. On drums, we have Oscar Nillson of Miseration and Despite. Handling vocals is Apollo Papathanasio, formerly of Firewind, and currently of Spiritual Beggars. If you are a fan of any of the bands listed, that’s fantastic, but it won’t necessarily prepare you for what lies within Black Sleep.

Their first album Heaven Doesn’t Want You and Hell is Full was a fun traditional metal romp. I enjoyed it for what it was and when the new album was announced, of course went back and listened. Whereas the previous album started with a campy intro, the new one does no such thing. The first track “Caravan” reminds me for some reason of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Sea” from the Dio era, which to me is a plus because that is my favorite era of Sabbath (fight me). After repeated listens, however, I am not sure exactly why.  As I continued to listen to the album, I realized Apollo’s vocals overall remind me of God. Excuse me, I’m sorry. I meant Dio. Apollo doesn’t let it rip quite like the legend, but there are moments of greatness throughout. So, perhaps it’s just the vocals themselves and not the actual song.

Moving forward on track 3, the title track, “Black Sleep,” has a very traditional feel with the synth/keyboard track to go along with the riff. There’s a good reason this is the title track, as it seems to sum up everything the band is trying to accomplish on the album. After the first chorus, a tasty lead emerges. Throughout the track, the keyboards continue to play a prominent role, and the Dio-esque vocals make an appearance near the end of the track as well.

The final track, “Shallow Grave,” sums up the album’s concept, although it is a bit melancholy compared to every previous song. It starts with a weeping lead, which also happens to be the chorus melody. There is a somber, multi-tracked vocal/choral melody in the chorus itself which brings the album to an appropriate close.

Reading this review, one may ask; What’s not to like? That’s a fair question. Every single track is well executed, catchy, and at just over 40 minutes, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome. You’re not going to find any 10-minute prog epics here. What you will find is a well-played and produced traditional heavy metal album. There’s not any reinventing the wheel or pushing the envelope here, and that’s perfectly fine. If I had to guess, I would say the gentleman involved in the recording had a great time tracking this record. It shows. If this style is up your alley, you can’t go wrong with this album, although I wouldn’t recommend selling the dead. I think that’s illegal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
April 1st, 2020

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