Beyond Hell: The Sleeper Awakens

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Beyond Hell: The Sleeper Awakens
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Beyond Hell: The Sleeper Awakens
Death Metal
Dark Descent Records, Skeleton Plague Records
July 2nd, 2010
Release length: 40:40
Myspace
The Sleeper Awakens is a raw, intense traditional Death Metal album that seemlessly jumps from slow paced brutality to high speed intensity. The first full-length album from Texas based Death Metal act Beyond Hell, and while it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, the album is composed of simply punishing music that works well with the listeners general expectations of what a Death Metal release should sound like. After a demo and an EP, Beyond Hell have refined their music a little more for this release, and bring us one of their most chaotic albums to date, as well as includes their debut EP And Evil Crept Through… for your listening pleasure.

The addition of And Evil Crept Through… is a nice touch to this release, especially considering the EP was a drastically limited pressing of only fifty available copies, making it practically impossible to obtain a copy of the EP if you are a newer fan of this act. Aside that, you have the real meat of this release which is the nine newly recorded tracks for The Sleeper Awakens, which include an “Intro” and “Outro” track, both of which which don’t really serve any purpose for this release, and ultimately feel a bit tacked on for the sake of keeping true with many releases of this style, as well as their Horror themed approach, lyrically and musically. This leaves seven actual tracks for this release, but at least these tracks are well done for the most part, leaving on issues with the raw recording quality to hinder the album at times.

The genuine songs that compose The Sleeper Awakens typically jump from slow to faster paced traditional Death Metal. There is nothing all too fancy or unique about the material on this release, other then it’s all just well done and very heavy. The guitar solos on this release often fit the rather dark and hopeless atmosphere that the raw recording quality helps to create here, but once in a while you’ll get an odd solo that shows some great skill, but just doesn’t quite fit in, like in the case of “The World Burns Forever” there the solo clashes against the grim atmosphere but being a little more of a positive sounding riff one would hear in a Heavy Metal or Power Metal track. While a good majority of the treacks on this album are really crushing, the one track that stands out the most would be the longer track “Embrace the Eternal Darkness”, which really just uses the slower paced music that has appeared through the album, and really just runs with it and creates a very heavy song that simply weighs down on the listener with it’s dispairaging, hopeless sound, making this track the one that really stands out on the album and have you coming back for more.

The only real downfall to this album would sometimes fall upon the recording quality. While the raw quality is beneficial to this album, sometimes it can really cause a strain on the listener and cause a headache due to the pitch the winds up coming out. Take the introductory guitars utilized at the start of “Approaching Doom”. The slower start winds up leaving the guitars as the only instrument playing what sounds like a somewhat Egyptian riff. However, there’s a good amount of static in the recording, as if the guitars were recorded low and then podded up high in the final mix, and the pitch this gives off is enough to cause a migraine during all these moments throughout the song, as it happens more then once too. It’s little aspects like this throughout the entire album that kind of take away from it’s overall appeal. That and the fact that there really isn’t anything all too inspiring from the release. Much of the music on here could shoved off as something you’ve already heard, just done well, and over time the album will start to lose it’s overall appeal if you continuously come back to it in short amounts of time.

The last four tracks on this full-length are actually taken from the band’s limited run four song EP And Evil Crept Through…, which features the standard horror based introduction track “Invoking the Elder Beasts”, which, again, doesn’t really do much to set up the next three tracks other then push the whole Horror aspect of the band again, and is actually rather long and becomes boring after the first thirty, forty seconds. However, the three tracks that follow are a little different compared to the new songs for The Sleeper Awakens, as these songs have a much better recording quality, though still rather raw, but enough that the instruments don’t sound obnoxious at times like the original recording, as well as have a bit more of a bite to them, as well as the vocals which can have a rhaspier Black Metal wail behind them at time such as a little less then half way through “Summoning the End” which just compliments the sound entirely. Had the band brought in some of the composition fundamentals from this EP to the seven tracks that compose The Sleeper Awakens then this album would have been a monster, but this production quality simply cannot suit the route that they went and would have ended up hurting it in the long run since they don’t have that overall grim atmosphere that makes those tracks work.

The Sleeper Awakens is the perfect jumping on point for Death Metal fans to discover Beyond Hell. The music from the recording session for this CD is so heavy and punishing that it can almost transfer the listener to a rather horrific plain of existence, especially with the horror based lyrics that cover many traditional topics, as well as an introduction that sets up the concept of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu lore, as well as the album title. With three bonus tracks that wind up covering pretty much all the early bases for the band outside of their demo, this release is a must have for anyone looking for something just pure evil.

01. Unlocking the Gates of Slumber (Intro) – 1:01
02. The World Burns Forever – 3:23
03. Approaching Doom – 3:36
04. The Way of Death – 3:29
05. Spawned in the Stars – 3:36
06. Apocalyptic Dreams – 2:35
07. The Sleeper Awakens – 3:39
08. Embrace the Eternal Darkness – 6:35
09. Outro – 1:12
10. Invokingt he Elder Beasts (Intro) – 1:41
11. Summoning the End – 3:25
12. Fall to Thy Knees in Fear – 3:22
13. Starving for More – 3:06
Overall Score: 7/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Dark Descent Records.