People who read my reviews on a regular base know that a large part of my writings deals with music that is situated on the edge of progressive rock and even beyond. One of the reasons to review Morpheus Rising's second offering is the presence of Mostly Autumn's bass player Andy Smith, who's the 'prog' connection here. Another reason is the fact that I like powerful music predominated by the electric guitar. So, if you think this band create music in the vein of Mostly Autumn then I have to disappoint you, because there's no similarity between these bands, whatsoever.
Morpheus Rising started as the brainchild of guitarist Pete Harwood, who gathered a number of musicians to record the band's debut album Fighting Man (2009). Due to the departure of vocalist Grae Tennick, who left to start a new life in Kenya, Morpheus Rising recruited new singer Si Wright. Since I'm not familiar with the debut album, I can't compare both singers, but while listening to Let The Sleeper Awake, I think Mr. Wright is the perfect singer for Morpheus Rising.
The band members label their music as 'new wave of British heavy metal'. I partly agree with that description. Musically Morpeus Rising have a typical twin guitars style with shouting vocals blended with a kind of alternative metal, trashy guitars and some progressive sounds. While listening to the album I was going back in time with a regular guitar sound rooted in bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and even Thin Lizzy. Daylight, Shades Of Grey and In The End are good examples of the influences from these bands. However, songs like Fighting Man and Those Who Watch slightly tend to a more modern musical style. Especially the latter song contains an accessible style that will fit better to our regular readers. The way vocalist Si Wright is adapting his voice to each song's atmosphere is a strong characteristic in my opinion. Sometimes he sounds as if his voice was recorded during the heydays of the new wave of British heavy metal that would suit for bands like Diamond Head, Trespass or even Iron Maiden. At other times he sounds a bit raspier with a more modern rock intonation.
The musical base has been built perfectly; Paul Gibbons does a great job as a steady rhythm machine; his drums sound strong and powerful. The twin guitars sound melodic, but also challenging both in the twin solos and in the riffing. Pete Harwood and his fellow-guitarist Damien James Sweeting just form a great duo. To me the highlight of the album is Those Who Watch, since I like the strong bass playing, the passionate vocals and the way the guitarists perform: one playing soft and sustaining notes, the other short power riffs on top of a steady beat.
If you like to hear a band of excellent musicians who polish the old 'new wave of British heavy metal', you must check out Morpheus Rising's second effort! Let The Sleeper Awake is an album worthwhile listening to; an impressive album for those who haven't forgotten their metal roots and who like powerful and well-played music with an outstanding vocalist.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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