On their powerfully striking debut full-length album Nostophobia, the Portland trio Sea Sleeper perform captivating and sprawling death metal with a prog and occasional post-metal inflection. In a broad sense, the band’s poignant style — which they definitely make their own — feels reminiscent of bands like Gojira.
Their debut album drops in full on Feb. 5 via Metal Assault Records — get a first listen below!
The album hinges on cascades of relentlessly heavy and intricately dynamic riffing, and the instrumentation feels like a descent into shadowy and ominous depths like those suggested by the band’s name. There’s a real bulkiness in the sound that in this context seems to highlight the band’s stylistic connections to post-metal, and the blistering yet broad riffs feel grimly majestic, like outlining a fundamentally inescapable journey into a chilly expanse.
Although the band’s music seems to gravitate around an eventual push forward, there’s plenty of abrasive grit along the way. In a general sense, the songs often feel fast and blistering in a familiarly death and black metal sense, but the group frequently shifts between dynamics from staggered and sludgy riffing into lightning strike rhythms that flash across the album.
Track three, called “Coffin Salesman,” hinges on accessibly pummeling death metal riffs that feel like massive sonic bludgeons swinging towards the earth — or like huge and menacing crashing ocean waves, to carry on with the imagery that the band uses. Interestingly, on “Mountain Carver,” Nostophobia‘s fourth track, Sea Sleeper incorporate expansive and somewhat melancholic — although still very hard-hitting — riffing that gives the devastation a particularly emotionally resonant edge. Pained clean vocals that occasionally ring out through the mix help fill out the feeling of a personal desperation amidst the chaos.
All of the transitions across Nostophobia feel very smooth and organic, which helps drive in the album’s staggering emotional force. Although they utilize staggered riffing to great effect at moments like the opening track “Salt,” the energy consistently moves forward. The often thunderous performances feel powerful and, critically, captivating, as though Sea Sleeper are musically charting an unsettling yet invigorating path into murky and unknown waters. The album, which seems to flow without particularly strong attachment to verse-chorus-verse structure, feels wonderfully immersive along the way.
Pre-order Nostophobia — and check out Sea Sleeper on Bandcamp — at this link.