As They Sleep delivers brutally heavy and savagely technical death metal of the highest order, crafting songs that put all pretenders to shame with energizing riffs and blasting disharmony. Dynasty, the band's second album and Solid State debut, proves exactly why they were chosen as "The Next Great Metal Band" in a 2009 contest presented by Metal Blade & Metal Hammer.
At a time when many so called "metal" bands are absent any true knowledge about or dedication to the genre's roots, this fearsome fivesome shares more in common with Suffocation and contemporaries like Despised Icon and Black Dahlia Murder than anything trendy.
Presented with pulverizing precision, Dynasty was mixed by powerhouse audio wizard Jason Suecoff (All That Remains, DevilDriver, Demon Hunter). Tracks like "Bedlam at the Nile" and "To the Republic" are driven by the fire of true heavy metal which burns deep inside As They Sleep. And with a wide color palette within their riffery, As They Sleep offer something truly memorable.
"I love death metal, but sometimes you can listen to a CD front to back that all sounds the same," points out vocalist Aaron Bridgewater. "We try to write our music in a way that satisfies bloodthirsty death metal fans but also has some brighter riffs" and catchy but technical moments.
The band explains that their name is a metaphor for going above and beyond what's expected in order to prevail, working hard to conquer your goals while others sleep. With a record like Dynasty now a part of their catalog, it's clearly a moniker that makes perfect sense for them as they have accomplished exactly that.
The Michigan based band's debut, Blacken the Sun, merely hinted at what these men can do. The sheer savagery of the riffs on display in songs like "Oracle of the Dead" should shame lesser bands. Bridgewater's vocals are positively punishing, with the twin guitar attack of Nick Morris and Barry Gomez laying down their parts with an almost mechanical edge. Bass player Derek Kosiba keeps things interesting within the already impressive bottom end, as Tony Lukitsh's feet work the double bass into a frenzy just as his hands constantly keep things sounding fresh, fast and tasteful.
Dynasty is a complex album with a conceptual focus: it's all about the rise and fall of empires. The lyrics touch on ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, and even mythology in songs like "Poseidon" and "God of War." It is an ambitious premise executed with precision focus and skill.
"We wanted to intertwine these stories about empires that have risen and fallen with things people are dealing with today - economically and politically," Bridgewater explains.
As They Sleep's most important endeavor is to leave a lasting impact on their listeners. They want to broaden the scope of what is possible in heavy music and introduce as many people as possible to their sound, vision, personal beliefs and the inspirations behind each and every song. If their lyrics can make you think, and their rhythms make you bang your head, mission accomplished.
"With a lot of bands playing this style it's just full steam death metal," Bridgewater points out. "I can't think of too many bands right now who work as hard to include intricate, colorful parts. And I think those brighter elements help us to stand apart from what a lot of bands are doing."
Dynasty is the dawn of a new era for As They Sleep. You have been warned!