Before this comes across like another example of haranguing another band for embracing the lighter electronic approach, it’s worth saying that Dayseeker at least deserve the slightest modicum of credit for easing into it. 2017’s Dreaming Is Sinking /// Waking Is Rising did look to expand a hitherto conventional metalcore sound into more widescreen pastures, so to begrudge Dayseeker of the opportunity to continue down that path entirely would be a bit unfair. That said, the fact that they’re choosing now to go full force in that direction can seem a bit questionable, especially when it’s still extremely in vogue at the moment, and it’s hard to say that the pre-release singles have continued a smooth transition instead of just jumping into the same mould with everyone else. And it’s not like this sort of thing can’t be done well either, but there was always going to be some hesitation when this exact career path is being turned to yet again, especially when it’s been done so many times before and flamed out almost as regularly.
And yet, Sleeptalk is actually a fairly solid album that manages to avoid a lot of the truly awful features usually boasted by this sort of metalcore, though not quite enough to transcend that general catchment into something more. It’s akin to what Awaken I Am did within melodic post-hardcore on Blind Love in 2017, in that the pieces that the scene has been characterised by haven’t changed, but they’re arranged in a way that’s more palatable overall. And sure, there’s absolutely no chance that Sleeptalk will go down as one of the best of the year, but for a fairly familiar experience that’s a crucial couple of notches better than others in its lane, Dayseeker have done a fair job here.
It’s a bit difficult to say what that’s the case though, because the vast majority of Sleeptalk doesn’t deviate all that much from what’s already been laid out in front of it, and what’s frequently maligned in the process. And to be clear, Dayseeker aren’t getting away totally unscathed either; the big, glossy pop-rock synths still take up a disproportionate amount of the mix in an effort to sound grand and cinematic, and when that’s paired with the brittle acoustic guitars of Already Numb to form the main melody, it can be a bit too saccharine in spots, and that’s not even mentioning the customary layers of intense polish. Maybe the difference comes from the fact that Dayseeker do still have a clear connection to their metalcore roots given how Crooked Soul and Gates Of Ivory throw some darker crunch into the mix, and while that doesn’t necessarily translate elsewhere, that depth and bombast is still present, and that’s generally a more effective ballast when it comes to keeping everything anchored down.
It does more good than a lot of bands produce, honestly, and the fact that Dayseeker’s focus comes on huge, emotionally-charged anthems means they pick up a good deal of steam. Rory Rodriguez’s vocals are the key standout feature, hitting those soaring peaks on Burial Plot and The Color Black and keeping a tremendous sense of melody moving throughout. Of course the thick vocal production is there too, though beyond the rather egregious electro-pop robotics of opener Drunk, it’s never too distracting, and for an album that’s looking to go down the soul-baring confessional route, it helps notch things up to those dramatic peaks that are rather necessary in making this compelling. And for the sort of album this is, they aren’t bad either, as Rodriguez trawls through the aftermath of a broken relationship fraught with toxicity, violence and alcohol abuse, placing himself and his own actions at the centre of it all. It’s certainly well-trodden ground and Dayseeker’s overall verbiage isn’t doing much to freshen that up, but as far as enormous emotions go, the likes of Burial Plot and the title track do more than enough to fuel the drama and tumult of it all.
Maybe that’s giving Dayseeker a bit too much credit for mustering up what’s ultimately a rather rote set of melodic metalcore plus-points, but they do it to a higher standard than so many of their contemporaries simply in the tweaks that gives their execution more power. It’s hardly going to break those shackles that hold it down by design, but if nothing else, Sleeptalk comes out with them a bit looser, and topping it off with a strong-as-ever melodic core makes this an enjoyable collection of songs, if little else. Even if this isn’t the one that converts every doubter to thinking this brand of melodic metalcore is worthwhile, it’s a refreshing light patch among a dour, impregnable wall, and in the right circumstance, that can work.
For fans of: Awaken I Am, Dayshell, Thousand Below
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Sleeptalk’ by Dayseeker is released on 27th September on Spinefarm Records.