I’m always on the hunt for new music. In case it wasn’t obvious from my Top 15 Albums of the Year, I enjoy me some good heavy metal and progressive rock. Every so often I’ll be impressed with albums not affiliated in those genres, like the Blade Runner 2049 Soundtrack (2017), Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls (2012), and Anneke & Árstíðir – Verloren Verleden (2016), and not to mention lots of Honorable Mentions.
If you come to me with new music, I’ll most certainly give it a try.
I recently reviewed Tool’s Fear Inoculum, and was reached out to a band from Italy called Sleepwait. They asked me to review their debut album, Sagitattius A*. Their reasoning was, “We checked your review of Tool’s “Fear Inoculum,” and thought you are the right person to give us a listen.”
While I was excited that the Tool review received a lot of discussion both on my blog, on my Instagram, and my personal Facebook, I was thrilled to receive an email asking for an album review because of my review.
Let’s dig in with Sleepwait – Sagittarius A*
The duo of Sleepwait formed about four years ago after Filippo Bravi (vocals) and Mauro Chiulli (instruments) met on a webportal for musicians. Despite the 300km distance from each other, they dedicated themselves to producing an album close to their hearts. Clearly inspired from bands such as Tool and Alice in Chains, the alternative/grunge rock Sagittarius A* holds nothing back as it explores the influences between the two musicians.
Bookended by reflective The Left and Right Hand of Beauty, the real meat of the album lies within. Songs like the title track, feel like a hybrid between Tool’s Lateralus and A Perfect Circle’s Mer de Noms. Yet further in, the album both expands and contracts between waves of emotions and anthems. The Doubt showcases both the rise and fall of those feelings, with production on the song somewhat distorted to add a feeling of unease to the listener.
A standout song for me was Istanbul, which pulled me back to the days of first listening to Kyuss’ Blues for the Red Sun. The grooves lead for steady head bobbing, followed by an great instrumental outro which hits me right in the nostalgia bone. Flowing into the samples of next song, The Prayer, the stoner rock groove continues for a great little trip until The Doubt brings up the tempo again.
Bravi’s vocals are an interesting blend between Maynard James Keenan from Tool and Serj Tankian from System of a Down. When emphasized, I hear Maynard; when calm, I hear Tankian. There’s a level of balance which Bravi manages to make work with the music. Most times, the vocal harmonies he provides offer different feelings, they hear like they are borderline on droning – which with certain guitar tones and riffs, almost puts the listener into a trance.
The album certainly feels thought-out and purposeful. Songs are placed in a particular order which makes the flow of the album a cohesive work. Nothing comes out as jarring, leaving the listener to sit back and actually be able to absorb the album as its presented. My first listen focused on nostalgia, while the later listens picked up on the smaller nuances the band wanted to achieve, such as the change of recording to the bass guitar in the track Constellations which I had missed before.
While Sagitarrius A* certainly doesn’t bring anything new to the musical table, Sleepwait, in my eyes, have established themselves as solid, competent songwriters and should be lauded for their admiration to their inspiration. While I feel the album does sound like it’s ripped right from the mid-2000s, so did Fear Inoculum. The difference is Sleepwait’s Sagitarrius A* is what I was expecting from Tool’s Fear Inoculum.
With a bit cleaner production and clearer definition of their own sound, I could see Sleepwait turning some heads in the prog rock/metal genre. Sagitarrius A* is just the beginning for this Italian duo.