Saturday 30 January 2021

Sea Sleeper - Nostophobia

Labels: Metal Assault Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 05 Feb 2021


1. Salt

2. Old Guard

3. Coffin Salesman

4. Mountain Carver

5. George Van Tasssel

6. Nostophobia

7. Far More Than Sustenance Now

8. Low

It's crazy that it's almost the end of January! I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to early 2021 releases yet, let alone delved deeper into the ever growing backlog. That being said, today's first review contains another debut album, this time from US progressive/post-metal trio Sea Sleeper, which will officially be released next Friday via Metal Assault Records. I don't know a great deal about them other than that members have played in different bands for decades within their local scene. While I'm reviewing this from the promo I was sent, I took to bandcamp to see the recommendations for similar artists and it listed Ulcerate, Death, Gruesome, Psycroptic, Convulsing, Opeth and Katatonia! Not a band bunch there! I know comparisons don't mean much and I'm not going to measure Sea Sleeper against those bands, but it's good to have a guide for new listeners.

Here goes another leap into the unknown with the debut record from US prog/death/post-metal band Sea Sleeper and straight off the bat, opener ‘Salt’ is a curiously heavy death metal song with more than a hint of experimentation. I say it’s curious because there’s a good dollop of progressive/sci-fi elements akin to the likes of Cynic and Blood Incantation, while still maintaining a solid level of brutality from every instrument and vocal pattern. It’s quite bass-heavy too, which is fine as it add heft to the music and stops it from sounding too thin. 

It’s amazing how Sea Sleeper manages to make ‘Old Guard’ sound longer and more encompassing than the opener, but it sounds that way. There are glimpses into doomier old-school death here, interspersed with clean singing. The guitar tones really stand out as well, they’re not overly metallic but they do add menace and melody.

There’s a lot going on throughout this recording if you listen to it at volume. ‘Coffin Salesman’ is proof of that with a musical approach from the band that belies it’s title. There are slams here, but not obtuse ones and it’s more straight-forward death in parts, while forever treading a horror-like/slasher movie path. It’s very hard to explain it accurately, but the latter half of the song sounds almost like the heavy metal of Haunt but slowed down and layered over the aforementioned death metal. That’s how I see it anyway (I’m probably way off).

The mammoth ‘Mountain Carver’ takes the prog/heavy metal influences a step further with much greater use of clean vocals during the it’s first few minutes, before harsher screams take over and Sea Sleeper’s extremity comes back into sight. They switch between the two dynamics throughout the song and never stay the same for too long. It rounds out the first half of the album with real purpose.

Brutality is the word on ‘George Van Tassel’. Plain and simple, it’s hard to describe it as anything else. Technical and too-the-point. Sea Sleeper are so strong instrumentally that it seems at times as though the vocals are not needed. That’s not a criticism though, as they add plenty to the record but like all great prog/death bands before them, it’s all about the instruments and the song-writing.

The album’s title-track ‘Nostophobia’ has more urgency but still demands attention from you as a listener. It’s off-kilter time signatures and riffs that turn on a dime keep you very much on your toes. What follows it goes even further down that rabbit hole. ‘Far More Than Sustenance Now’ mixes up everything that Sea Sleeper throws into this album and spews it out in one unholy, noisy lump of craziness. For all that though, it’s still rhythmic and dare I say groovy at times.

It’s apt that the closing song is called ‘Low’ as that’s exactly what it seems to be tuned to. The bass is once again very prominent and it fits the obscure nature of the song. I use obscure because it’s just mad but also totally listenable and fun. That kind of describes this whole album. It’s filled with heaviness, but it’s feet are kept firmly on the ground by the clean vocals and the buzzing melody. If ever there was a year for discovering new creative bands, 2021 feels like that year. Sea Sleeper deserve to get all the attention when Nostophobia sees it’s full release next week.

You can stream four songs in advance of the release via bandcamp below, where you can also pre-order it on cd or digitally:-

Sea Sleeper -

Metal Assault Records -

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