Review – Eternal Sleepwalker

Source: Doomed & Stoned

Formed just two years ago in 2013, the Swedish trio consists of former members of death metal act Runemagick, namely Nicklas Rudolfsson (guitars and vocals), Daniel Moilanen (drums), and Johan Bäckman (bass). HeavyDeath came together with just one objective: to play “no frills,” “heavy death,” riff-laden doom metal. Pick the opening moments on any of these seven songs and you’ll see the band definitely lives up to its name. This band is heavy as death.

Having already teased us with 10 amazing demos, HeavyDeath has now emerged with their first full-length. Eternal Sleepwalker (2015) was recorded last summer, but just recently released through Svart Records in early March. I have been keeping up with these guys for quite some time now and it is exciting to finally take this record out for a spin. There is never enough death-doom in the world (at least in my world!)

Eternal Sleepwalker was recorded with drums, bass, guitar, and no overdubs, as HeavyDeath specifies. The album is a landscape of crushing riffs and damning beats, with a chilling and morbid atmosphere sweeping through its entirety. Ripping growls alternating with clean, hypnotic vocals are a salient (and rather personal) ingredient for death and funeral doom and here they provide a chilling atmosphere that haunts the listener. Take another look at the album cover, because that is exactly where this trip with HeavyDeath will be taking you!

The seven-track, 52-minute record commences with a hypnotic, but evil opening track “Ascending.” Tormenting you while yet soothing at the same time. Each track on the album flows and congeals perfectly one into the next.

“Road to the Fire” is an almost frightening, yet strangely attractive, track in which Nicklas Rudolfsson’s demos his truly evocative vocal style, accented by Johan Bäckman’s evocative bass playing (a pleasure to listen to to throughout entire record).

The album begins a noticable ascent with “Bow Down,” which amps up the drama with an indelible chorus sure to get stuck in your head. The use of continuous chanted vocals is very effective on this track.

“Eat The Sun” has a slight touch of black metal and unforgettable riffs and melody. This is the album’s shortest song, with a length just shy of five minutes.

“Eternal Sleepwalker,” the albums self-titled track has perhaps the catchiest guitar riffs of the record. You’re going to want to replay this one a couple of times.

Next up, “Heavy as Death” and as you listen, I ask you: is it heavy enough for you yet? This is one of my personal favorites. Simple, yet catchy. Them RIFFS! Certainly one of the most memorable tracks.

“Beyond the Riphean Mountains” is the album’s final coffin nail. It plays out like a wasteland of emptiness, just creepy. Notes are sparse, but the drone never stops. Who doesn’t love a good dose of drone? A treat which I am sure most us doom devotees can appreciate.

After more than several spins, I find Eternal Sleepwalker to be deliberate and effective. It makes me want to take a long and lonesome walk through a misty, desolated land with nothing but the leaves of trees swooshing in the wind, grey and black imagery filling the landscape.

I bet one of the first thoughts that will come to mind when you listen to this record is how endebted HeavyDeath is to the New York-based band Winter, pioneers of the death-doom sound. Eternal Sleepwalker is an impeding, luring piece of art that will satisfy those with a taste for the genre. Though you don’t have to take my word for it. This month, indulge yourself and get the record, then prepare to be mesmerized. Repeat with me all, “Death is heavy, heavy is death, heavy as death.”