Review: Sleepwait – Sagittarius A*

Sleepwait – Sagittarius A*
Self-release

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 a 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.

Sleepwait on Bandcamp

Wednesday’s Reviews: Something Incredible

As I mentioned last week, I was off to Toronto’s ComicCon this past Sunday. Unlike other comic conventions, Toronto’s are really “mini” versions of ComicCon’s until the FanExpo in August. Needless to say, since last August, this has probably been the smallest thus far. I had intended on getting a Silver-Age X-Men comic – but there weren’t any pre-issue #20 in decent condition and price.

Alas, the earliest issues I grabbed were Bronze-Age X-Men #88, #138, #159, and #165. The rest were mostly Modern Age X-Mens from various lines of Astonishing, Volume 2, a couple of Annuals, and a Giant-Sized Amazing Spider-Man #21. (Expect an O.M.I.T. comparison soon!) I was happy with the event overall, but disappointed with the lack of selection for my specific needs. [/loser]

Unfortunately after the Con, I became ill and quite frankly, could hardly keep myself energized. In result, I totally failed at putting reviews out for all of the comics I wanted to this week. I could only grab enough strength to bust out my favourite one. By next week, everything should be hunkey dorey.

Incredible Hulks

Incredible Hulks #622
Greg Pak (writer), Paul Pelletier (pencilers), Danny Miki & Crimelab Studios (inkers), Paul Mounts (colours), Simon Bowland (letters), Paz & D’Armata Pagulayan (cover). $2.99

Post-Chaos War, Hercules restores order to the Marvel U, and rebuilds Mount Olympus on to Earth. With people like Alpha Flight and, well, the entire world being saved and healed, the Hulks were left out. Bruce Banner went to Hercules and asked about the Hulks – A-Bomb is gravely injured and needs healing, while Betty has gone insane and needs to be cured. All Hercules can do is apologize and feel terrible for Bruce. Bruce decides to let Hulk take over and ask get Zeus to help. He beats up various gods on Olympus – making him angrier – and works his way up to Zeus. (this was all in last-ish – Ed.) Now at Incredible Hulks #622, Zeus and the Hulk duke it out for Bruce’s last chance at helping his friends!

And as writer Pak puts it in the introduction to the book: “Zeus won’t have it.” And indeed he doesn’t. Most of the book is Hulk and Zeus battling it out, while She-Hulk, Betty, Skaar and Korg fight off monsters as they try and get to Hulk in his battle.

Ever since Planet Hulk, and excluding Jeff Loeb’s odd-run on “The Hulk,” we’ve seen Banner be pretty much impossible to defeat. He has battled every creature from here to kingdom-come and win. But it was this issue, where Hulk fights the the god, and is finally beaten. Yes, the Hulk loses. And it’s bad. After his defeat, Hulk is left tied down and fed to vultures for three days to learn a lesson. He is also unable to fully heal due to being fed on – meaning he cannot fight back. We see Hulk go through hell, and as Zeus puts it, it is so Hulk realizes not to battle Zeus again. Fortunately, his friends do make it to save him, but not without a massive lesson learned to Banner. And as an epilogue, we’re given a nice segue into the next chapter of the Hulk series – bringing out another “survivor” from the Chaos War. As always with the Hulk, this battle has just begun.

As for the story, I love how Pak has practically reinvented the Hulk into a family man. At first I was terribly weary of it because Hulk has always wanted to be alone. But here, he’s been redefined and it’s been so gradual that it feels normal for the Hulk now. To top it off, having the Hulk beaten so badly really humanizes Hulk that much further. Not to mention watching Hulk fight for something other than being a monster-bashing machine really makes Hulk a respectable character. Mixing in with brilliant colours – blues from Zeus and greens from Hulk – and great epic fist fights with Zeus, it really is a battle worth watching.

My only major problem with the story was how most of it was literally pointless bickering. Dialogue was not really all-important as the majority of the story was physical fighting up until the last two pages.And while I love the art within the story, Hera was portrayed over-the-top sexually – which is funny given how She-Hulk and Betty were not.

Despite the fighting, it was an excellent moral at the end for the Hulk – one that was a long time coming.

Grade: 7/10

As a complete side note, doesn’t Steve Epting’s version of Sue Storm on the cover of FF #1 look a lot like Creepy Chan?

FF

So, until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!