Oh, Sleeper is quickly rising to become one of the most prolific artists in their genre. Labelmates August Burns Red have set a high precedent for faith-based technical metalcore, and Oh, Sleeper has willingly accepted the challenge. The group, made up of ex-members of Terminal and Between the Buried and Me came roaring onto the scene with When I am God, and avoided the sophomore slump with the outstanding concept record Son of the Morning. Now they are back with the darker, more diverse concept record Children of Fire.
Things get kickin’ (pun intended) right away with “Endseekers”, the first single and song that was performed live on their summer tour with Emery and Hawkboy. This is the first of many technically impressive songs that serve to get the crowd pumped up, with other highlights being “Chewing the Stitch” and “Claws of God.” The album isn’t without its emotional moments, however. “Hush Yael” recounts the story of an Israeli family in hiding from intruders, in which a mother accidentally suffocates her young son while trying to hide him from the perpetrators, and “The Family Ruin” is reminiscent of something you’d hear on a Deftones or Hands record. The former I actually avoid sometimes, simply because the lyrical content is so sad but each time I will myself to listen, I find myself being so impressed by the guitar and drum work that I wonder why I avoided it in the first place.
Children of Fire also features a new drummer, the younger Zac Mayfield. As I and most everyone else that has seen this guy in a live setting can attest, his ability definitely stays consistent – and consistently awesome at that. Watch out, Matt Greiner (of August Burns Red fame). The musicianship of the rest of the band is spot on as well, and they experiment just enough this record to demonstrate progression yet they stay with the classic Oh, Sleeper sound as well. Also, despite the semi-prominent clean vocals they do a good job at shying away from the cliche rough verse/clean chorus format in metalcore.
Oh, Sleeper succeeded in putting together a dark, apocalyptic record that still alludes back to the Gospel message while remaining fun and innovative without being cliche. This is one of the best of the year.