New Music Review: Wintersleep – New Inheritors

Some of you may know of the band Wintersleep.  For those of you that think you don’t, you most likely know their biggest “hit”, Weighty Ghost from their Juno award winning album Welcome To the Night Sky.  Said album was the Canadian band’s 3rd studio album, and as mentioned, won a Juno award in 2008 for Best New Group of the Year.

On May 18, 2010, Wintersleep released their highly anticipated follow-up to Night Sky with New Inheritors.  The album was highly anticipated for pre-stated reasons, but for myself, I was quite eager to hear how the band was going to follow the “masterpiece” of Night Sky.  As the months approached to the album release, Wintersleep released a free single on iTunes called New Inheritors, their title track.  The song was catchy from first listen and I was excited for the new album.

Well, I have mixed feelings for the rest of the album.  You see Night Sky had quite the mixture of sounds, tempos and feelings.  You had up-beat, up-tempo songs like Archaeologists, Oblivion; contemplative, emotional songs such as Dead Letter and the Infinite Yes and Search Party; and for good measure, an 8-minute epic, Miasmal Smoke & the Yellow Bellied Freaks.  I find a lack of this assortment on the new album.  I apologize about the constant comparisons, but I can’t help but compare the two albums.

I have two main critiques of the new album: the first being that Paul Murphy’s voice doesn’t have the smooth honey tone that can be heard on previous efforts, there’s more rawness to it this time around (more an observation than a critique, I just like the smoother tone better); the second being that the album consists of “poppier” rock.  It is by no means a pop rock album, however, it is less progressive for the most part and sounds a little more mainstream.On the bright side, there are 12 pretty solid, albeit similar tracks on their new album.  (I can’t help but compare to their previous effort)

The opening track, Experience the Jewel begins very quietly with some strings, and then a strum of an electric guitar, followed by some palm mutes and some quiet vocals.  Just as you wonder if the song will ever pick up, it does.  The rest of the album doesn’t really let up from there either.

Encyclopedia is a short but steady rocker, Blood Collection recalls Dead Letter from their previous effort, but with a few more guitar hooks and some more dynamics; Black Camera is the first single and doesn’t fail to impress, either.  With a subtle keyboard during the chorus, heavy bass during the verse, and haunting Oooh’s and Aaaah’s throughout the song, this single demonstrates how this Halifax-based group can get a little heavy and eerie at the same time.

At first listen, Trace Decay was the standout song for me.  From the opening guitar progression, which is über-cachy, to the repetition of “Memories” and steady build-up in the bridge, there was no doubt this was going to be a new favourite.

Mausoleum is one of the more ok songs on the album, but that’s likely because it follows Trace Decay.  It’s not all bad, it just doesn’t have the spark that some of the other songs do.  It has some nice melodies, however, yet I find it to be about 2 or 3 minutes too long.

Echolocation treats us to some bouncing bass and pretty guitar lines.

Preservation, Mirror Matter and Baltic round off the album, almost a little anti-climactically.  Others may have differing opinions of these last three songs but I think they should have been dispersed throughout the album.  They are not awful songs by any means, but I feel they lack some of the emotion and intensity of the first three quarters of the album.  You’ll have to listen for yourself to see if you agree.

All in all, this is a great album on it’s own, but I find myself comparing it to their previous album.  It takes a few spins, but New Inheritors as an album does grow on you.  Upon first listen, I would have written this blog regarding the utter disappointment of this album, but I find myself enjoying it that much more, the more I give it a fair listen.

If Welcome To the Night Sky was a 4.5 star album (out of 5 stars), New Inheritors is about a 4.

Have a listen to the album if you have not already and tell me what you think!

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~ by whet_hopped on June 17, 2010.

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