Local Love: Sleeperdrone
SLEEPERDRONE. Photo: Lisa Ramirez
Every once in a while, I see a band that’s doing things their own way while reminding me of multiple bands while they’re doing it. You know, those bands who sound like one band if that band had a baby with another band while eating the sandwich of another band? For the past six months I’ve tried to make it out to see bands that steer far from what I normally make it out for. Houston’s thrash scene, and the metal and punk scenes in general, are growing again, but nowhere near as large as they were ten years ago. While stoner metal and doom metal are on the rise, about two months ago I caught a band that blew me away with their intensity and sheer power, Houston’s SLEEPERDRONE. The four-piece sounds like a mix of Helmet, Thursday, and Dillinger Escape Plan with hints of Drive Like Jehu and Black Tusk thrown in. Possibly the loudest band I’ve seen in a good while, these guys bring a force of sound while they’re blasting riffs from full stacks of amplifiers when you catch them play out. On their new album, COSMONAUTILUS, they prove real quick that they aren’t for the faint of heart… though, that doesn’t seem to bother them at all.
The four-piece starts off with the slow boil of “El Cancion Roto,” which takes awhile to get going, but when the screams begin, the band immediately takes you to a sound that creates one of the standout tracks of the album. Mixing emo core guitar progressions with a gain level that’s chunky enough to have trouble spreading on toast, you’ll immediately find yourself banging your head in agreement to their heavier yet catchy sound. The screams from vocalist Roman Molina are the kinds that echo years of pain and abuse, or at least someone who’s pissed enough to make you feel it. The same can be said about the second track, “Dirt Nap.” The vocals feel like there’s a despised notion while the dual guitars from Molina and Jeff Perales take you to the darkest depths of your own self. Perales is definitely channelling some of his inner emo core here, though far and away from any other project he’s currently involved with. The additional dual vocals that come in while the bass and drums from Jonah Perez and Jake Allen form a neck snapping alliance and add an emotional heft not normally found in metal.
The band takes a different direction while staying heavier than a two ton dump truck on “Shadow and Time,” before picking up the pace on the fourth track, “Meet Me At The Denver International Spaceport.” They definitely go to another place when secondary harmonics couple with the riff heavy notes on the dual axes the band employs. The guitar work on this track is pretty intense while the painful growl of the vocals make you remember sad and gloomy childhood memories. There are moments of prog rock guitar that hop on and off the track while the drums take an almost jazz-based experimental vibe. However, this experiment works and just adds to the depth of the track. They close things off with the longest song of the five, “South Coast.” The track starts off slower and with a little more of a drone before the guitars check in and take the band’s sound closer to that of a doom metal band. The molasses thick riffs, the harmonics from the squealing guitar, and the axe wielding harmonies they create are far from anything else you’ll hear in the metal genre today. There’s a crazy mixture of early emo core, screamo, and math rock to how the track is structured that should freak you out while the band criss-crosses patterns and timing structures to go to a whole new level of playing. The track is one of those that you might find yourself jamming on repeat, if not only to figure out what they’re doing at each and every turn within.
This album is one of the first times I’ve heard a band grasp what catching them in person feels and sounds like. The intensity of the vocals, the heaviness of the drums and the bass, and the crazed guitar and chunky riffs all feel like SLEEPERDRONE is right there in front of you while it plays. You can get a physical copy of COSMONAUTILUS on cassette, when the band releases it at Fitzgerald’s on Saturday July 30th. The all ages show will feature sets from Versa Nova, Mezzanine, An Author, A Poet, Moth Wings, The Pretty Bads, and Project Icarus with doors at 7 pm and tickets for $10.