Sleep in Heads – On The Air
Progressive Rock | Progressive Metal
First impressions are a powerful thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever known a band set such a good first impression as this. ‘Pacifying’, the first track on this debut album from Ukrainian band Sleep in Heads, is the most grand and arresting song you are likely to hear this year. The ethereal vocals, the swirling strings, the cataclysmic climax; when I next need to define “progressive” music to someone this is where I’ll send them, there is just so much going on and all of it working in perfect balance. There is also much to be said for ‘Deceiver’. The expressive bass tones and skittering drums of the verses give way to the blistering chorus riffs, all woven together by the ever elegant violin. In its softer moments, where the soundscapes are given chance to grow and explore like the roots of some mighty oak, On The Air is an absolute masterclass at showing just how opulent and awe-inspiring music can be.
Though it occasionally borders on perfection, even an album as concise and purposeful as this can have its flaws, and this record’s faults lie entirely within the heavy end of the spectrum. When songs shift into metal territory they often display either oversimplified alt rock riffs or impenetrable walls of sound, neither of which play to the band’s strengths. They lack the complexity, nuance and grandeur of the record’s softer moments, and greatly detract from the album’s charm. If the band toned back their heavier side a notch, or at least applied the same layering and intricacy as you find elsewhere on the record, it would make a world of difference and put their next release well within reach of our albums of the year. It’s not perfect, but this is a damn impressive debut and an album they should be immensely proud of.