Our motley township owes an obvious debt to Black Sabbath…but Sleeping Village, today’s group in question, also lifted their moniker from Sabbath's plunder-worthy supply of deepcuts. And so, despite being prompted to do so by our friends at Crypt Guard, it was inevitable that after reviewing Sleeping Village’s promising EP here at the Sleeping Village, we would end up writing about their future endeavors. On a #SabbathSunday, no less! Thus, on the docket today: Sleeping Village’s latest 5-track release, entitled Holy Water.
We all know what we’re getting into, from the logo, to the borderline occult atmosphere, to the riffage, to the Geezer-esque low end and the Ward-ish percussion. No question ‘bout it: these guys live, breath, and die by the monolithic template established by (Ozzy-era) Black Sabbath. Indeed, their bio indicates an unabashed acknowledgement of their particular station: Sleeping Village is “unashamed Sabbath worship.” With that in mind, is it worth listening to Holy Water instead of just throwing on Master of Reality for the umpteenth time?
In a word: yes. While I certainly knock off points for blatant deritivity, it's not like Sleeping Village don't wholeheartedly own it. And let’s be realistic here--we’re listening to this because we like the established template, and are consistently on the hunt for new bands dabbling in comfortable and familiar waters.
I’m probably beating a dead horse here, but to the surprise of none, Rick Dal Cortivo's riffs have fallen straight from the Sabbathian playbook. Most of the numbers here feel like the equivalent of copied homework, wherein every fourth word is overtly traded out for whatever the thesaurus had to offer as a close alternative. There's a lot here that recalls Sabotage and Master of Reality, but there's also an exploratory Sabbath Bloody Sabbath pomp and flair, particularly in the solos. Take, as a prime example, the back half of “No Turning Back,” which features extensive psychedelic meandering up and down the neck. When people state that they emulate Black Sabbath, this is the kind of stuff I like to hear--not just the trademark “Sweet Leaf” riffage, but the more experimental blues, psych, and folk inflected bits and bobs as well. While typically remembered ‘round these parts for their eventual contribution to doom and stoner, Sabbath took a somewhat kitchen-sink approach to songcraft. In emulating their heroes, Sleeping Village do the same, resulting in five undeniably intriguing and well-composed tracks. “The Siren’s Song,” in particular, is one helluva barn burner, with a massive central riff and a delicious forward momentum...but still allows the breathing room for a fiercely frenetic solo. I’d say that if you’re sampling, you should check out this track first, but realistically they are all quite worthwhile.
The one area that Sleeping Village truly divert from source material is in the vocal department. There’s no trace of Ozzy here--rather, the reedy and nasally tone reminds me, as before, of Witchfinder’s Zeeb Parkes. One one hand, I appreciate the departure, as the absence of Ozzy sneer adds a little original flair to the affair. That said, the vox is the weakest element from a technical standpoint. While the thin nonchalance certainly works as a general rule--take the well-performed chorus of the title track--there are times where the vocals simply lack sufficient punch.
All told? This Sleeping Village is a big fan of the other Sleeping Village, and, as always, this particular scribe is looking forward to whatever they happen to cook up next. Thusfar, their two EPs demonstrate both deep adoration and thoughtful application--a remarkably rare combination. If you enjoy deep of the boys from Birmingham, I highly suspect you’ll find something herein to enjoy. And, frankly, if you’re turned off by the notion of Sabbathian emulation, why are you readin’ a damn doom review in the first place?
Sleeping Village - Holy Water was released April 3rd, and can be found here!
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!