REVIEW: OTHERWISE – “Sleeping Lions”
American hard rockers Otherwise, formed by Brothers Adrian (lead vocals) and Ryan Patrick (lead guitar, backing vocals) along with bass guitarist Tony “The Beast” Carboney & drummer Brian Medeiros announced the release of what is their ‘most defining career moment’. With a decade-long career and two chart-hitting full-length albums ‘True Love Never Dies’ (2012) and ‘Peace At All Costs’ (2014), the band is due to release their third studio album ‘Sleeping Lions’ in September 2017.
The front cover of this album shows a minimalistic design and the skull of what should be a lion, considering its title. Frontman Adrian comments that the album name was conceived reflecting the moods and feelings of the band members themselves stating that – ‘we’ve been hibernating in our neon desert cave, licking our wounds and regaining our strength for the hunt’.
And so the hunt begins with opening song “Angry Heart”, flowing with blistering vocal cadences coupled to groovy alternative rock guitar riffs and some meaty bass. The song was recently released on YouTube too, and it sets the pace for the 11-track epiphany which is essentially set around the theme of anger, regret and love. Title track “Sleeping Lions” carries on the path of anger, serving to ensconce the messaging of the band loud and clear. The riffs are heavy, and so are the solos in the third quarter of the song.
“Suffer” takes a more post-punk direction thus benefiting from catchy chorus and melodic segments. Adrian’s clean and harsh vocals establish versatility and is worthy of appreciation. The album switches to the regret & betrayal stage of the theme with the hard-hitting and heavy tracks “Nothing to Me” and “Weapons”. These songs feel special for two reasons; first because Ryan is given more space to play around on the guitar amidst Medeiros’ drum rolls, and also because of lyrical content that is easily relatable to some experiences past or present. It doesn’t just hit a nerve, but are now passages of one’s own life for the person listening in.
“Crocodile Tears” is another great track on the same lines but with a more simplistic rhythm, deep bass and classic-rock four-by-four drumming to make it both radio-friendly and addictive. “Close to the Gods” shuffles back into the post-punk feel, but cranks up the pace with interestingly catchy guitar bits through the verses. I have to say by this point I was tripping on Carboney’s bass work which is nice and thick throughout the album and doubles up to hold the rhythm together when Ryan switches to leads. Brian too has a very unique drumming style that adds groove and works in favour of the overall tune. “Dead in the Air” and “Beautiful Monster” take flight in a flurry of programmed embellishments with unbridled messaging of relationships that destroy us, but which we just can’t bring ourselves to leave.
The album switches to the third emotional theme of love with “Blame” and closing song “Bloodline Lullaby”, both of which have a feel and sound of the hard rock music from the decades gone by. And it is interesting to hear how refreshingly new it sounds.
‘Sleeping Lions’ isn’t packaged rebellion; instead, it is more real-world emotion. And it’s what makes the album connect with you at a visceral level. While musically there maybe bits that are nothing that hasn’t been done before, they have been done professionally and sufficiently enough to sound interesting without incurring repetition or monotony. Some may argue that the bass may be too loud in the mix, this works in favour of the record, adding depth to an otherwise a flat sound. The lyrics are heartfelt emotions, and together, this album is exhibition to the potential of Otherwise. Many of the tracks are relatable and catchy, and I hope to hear some of them on the radio soon and on the charts! My copy however was missing the bonus track “Won’t Stop”, but I that won’t stop me from getting my hands on it as soon as the album is out!