During the Sleepless Nights and City Lights DVD, I Killed the Prom Queen drummer JJ Peters discusses how at the time of the Adelaide band’s inception in 2000, while it was a burgeoning scene overseas, there wasn’t really many, if any bands bridging hardcore and Swedish-style melodic death metal on these shores.
That’s likely a key reason why the band experienced such success here, but was unable to make as large an impact on foreign soil, where they faced stiffer competition.
Irrespective of this, the band is officially back from hiatus, with four-fifths of their last lineup intact (vocalist Jamie Hope the only new inclusion). To capitalise on the ensuing buzz, their second album, 2006’s Music for the Recently Deceased and 2008 live album/DVD Sleepless Nights… have been reissued. Most fans will likely already own one or both, but it’s the novelty value of the former’s bonus disc that will have devotees most excitable.
Though hardly the game-changer some critics touted it as upon its release, Music for… is a more than respectable, yet almost wholly typical affair, often interchangeable with numerous other heavy music releases of the time. Although the band derived much of their following from hardcore fans unwittingly supporting an almost purely metal band, that’s what this album is, despite the abundance of breakdowns – a metal record.
Having trekked to Sweden’s Studio Fredman to record, producer Fredrik Nordström’s (In Flames, At the Gates, Arch Enemy, Soilwork) fingerprints are all over this slick package. There are plenty of Gothenburg-isms – ‘The Deepest Sleep’ lifts a riff straight from In Flames’ Clayman album, while the aggressive ‘Bet it All on Black’ uses Swedeath-esque harmonies as its foundation. As was par for the course five years ago, it’s meticulously and pristinely produced. This unfortunately includes axeman Jona Weinhofen’s overly processed clean vocals, which wring pretty much all emotion out of said passages. Despite this, and a tendency to adhere to formula, there are worthwhile hooks (‘Say Goodbye’, ‘Colombian Necktie’), matched against similarly styled cuts which feel too generic (‘Headfirst from a Hangman’s Noose’). After initially laying down tracks with vocalist Michael Crafter, the band fired him and enlisted Englishman Ed Butcher, who re-recorded vocals for the original release. Now fans can hear both versions on the two-disc reissue. Although the songs were penned for Crafter (“his” version contains some altered lyrics) his replacement sounds more comfortable and attuned to the material, and his guttural growl more convincing.
Sleepless Nights… really rams home that the quintet called it quits when their popularity was still seemingly on the upswing (including a deal with prominent US label Metal Blade), so hearing the members’ comments, even without benefit of hindsight, strongly suggests a return was inevitable.
The band’s inaugural DVD release, it features live renditions of material from both studio records as well as the likes of ‘Choose to Love, Live or Die’, from their debut EP of the same name. The DVD songs, recorded at Adelaide’s HQ during their 2008 Say Goodbye farewell run and featuring the recalled Crafter showcase an energetic live band and an adoring hometown crowd. Also included are the frontman’s ongoing battles with venue security. The editing can occasionally be too ADD-ridden and distracting, but it captures the passion their fan base exhibits, even if some likely didn’t truly believe they were going away for good. Also interspersed throughout are extensive interviews with each member charting their career, as well as touring shenanigans. There are also a few standard extras included. The audio-only live disc is a set from the HiFi Bar, Melbourne just days after the Adelaide show, and documents an equally enthusiastic response.
Newcomers wondering what all the fringe-wearing, neck tattoo-sporting fuss is all about will get plenty of bang for their buck, and those diehards who wish to hear the original Music For… recordings will want it also. Detractors would be best advised to avoid like the proverbial plague though.
Music for the Recently Deceased –
1. Sharks in Your Mouth
2. Say Goodbye
4. Your Shirt Would Look Better with a Columbian Neck–tie
5. The Deepest Sleep
6. Bet It All on Black
7. Headfirst from a Hangman’s Noose
8. Sleepless Nights and City Lights
9. Slain Upon My Faithful Sword
10. Like Nails to a Casket
11. There Will Be No Violins When You Die
Sleepless Nights and City Lights –
2. When Goodbye Means Forever
4. Homicide Documentaries
5. Choose to Love Live or Die
6. Your Shirt Would Look Better With a Columbian Neck-tie
7. Upon a Rivers Sky
8. Bet it All on Black
9. Never Never Land
10. My Best Wishes
11. To Kill Tomorrow
12. Say Goodbye
13. Death Certificate for a Beauty Queen
14. Sharks in Your Mouth