Sleep of Monsters – II: Poison Garden (Svart)

Wednesday, 27th July 2016
Rating: 7/10

The golden age of Finnish Gothic rock has long since passed. Charon, Entwine, HIM, Sentenced, and Sinamore ruled the Scandinavian roost a decade ago, combining metal with prime era Goth like Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy. It was (and still is) a potent formula, something that HIM took to the top, while the rest, especially Sentenced, trailed behind with their dignity intact. Following in that tradition is Sleep of Monsters, a Finnish outfit on the second album, II: Poison Garden.

In contrast to the above list of bands, there’s not a lot of metallic music to Sleep of Monsters. They’re more of a hard rock band aided by accessible hooks, horns, and female vocals. The most Finnish-sounding thing about Sleep of Monsters is vocalist Vil, he of Babylon Whores fame, a vastly-overlooked Goth metal combo from the ‘90s. Like gents such as Ville Valo, Ville Laihiala, and Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto, Vil is a pocket singer who rarely strays from his mid-range comfort zone. He’s almost too-comfortable sounding, to be honest, and his relaxed tone does a few of these songs a disservice such as opener “Poison King,” which could have used a more rousing performance.

Otherwise, the succulent “Babes in the Abyss” is single material all the way; “The Devil and All His Works” has an immediate, jovial chorus, and “Foreign Armies East” emerges as the album’s most sullen and dark cut. Wish there were more of those, for Sleep of Monsters and their pop-flavored appeal may not have the necessary grit and dirt to cull the metal audience that followed HIM. As noted, stuff like this could only come out of Finland, which suggests the country may have a new chart-topper on its hands.

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