There’s always been something so alluring about things sludgy and infectious for this metalhead. The thick guitar tone almost instantly puts you in a totally different mind-frame the moment it starts churning out the great, infectious riffs. It’s a wonderfully simple formula that delivers almost every time it’s used. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to pull off though, especially for the length of an entire album. It soon becomes a tired formula if you don’t do it right and the simplicity can become a hindrance. Rest assured though, Void of Sleep do not fall for that at all and manage to stay enthralling throughout Tales Between Reality and Madness, be it with a mix of song-writing twists or generally great songs with stellar riffs that never make you look longingly at the skip button.
Void of Sleep sound like a completely twisted mix of the sludgy, infectious Kylesa with the dark psychedelia of Ghost in perhaps the most flattering ways imaginable, even going so far as to outdo both bands in many aspects. They don’t stop at making the music ‘fun’ or ‘catchy’ and really make something out of it, which can’t be said for every band doing music like this today. The music is just ridiculously enjoyable in almost every single way. It’s true that Void of Sleep are much more rock oriented than metal, but don’t let this turn you away if you’re one of those oddly picky metal purists – they know how to be heavy. I promise.
The most immediately impressive undertaking Void of Sleep pull off is throwing predictability out the window. Yes, you can very easily see all of the staples the album is going to use from the get-go, but you certainly won’t predict how they’re going to use them, and they very much like to shake it up. They utilize the build/release structure several times throughout the album and not once does this descend into pointless crescendo wankery. The payoff is satisfying every single time on tracks like “The Great Escape of the Giant Stone Man,” which uses almost relaxing, chorus-soaked clean guitars with the bass and drums building all of the tension before bulldozing you with one of the best riffs on the record. It’s so tasty and heavy, you’ll no doubt want to eat it up, smother your face in it and bathe in it. Figuratively.
Another really great part of this record is a bass that does just as much bulldozing as the guitar and man, does it sound great. It builds a lot of the subtle tension on the album, carries many of the main riffs and often interplays with the guitar before they all come together for the sake of crushing your ears. It’s intricate, well thought-out and a very welcome thing to hear in a scene saturated with woeful bass-neglect.
It would all be for naught if the guitars weren’t equally as great, but fear not, because they’re every bit as well done. Likewise, the clean vocals never tire out or end up sounding standard and un-engaging, nor are they necessarily the centrepiece of the album. Many of the better moments occur with just the instruments battling it out. Despite the vocals being at the forefront of every song, they never drown anything else out.
Almost every track has a stand-out moment that makes recommending individual tracks difficult, be it the riff on “Lost in the Void,” the wonderfully sludgy ending of “Ghost of Me,” or practically any other track. The replayability of this album is so big because of everyone performing at such a high calibre.
Tales Between Reality and Madness is a heavy record that doesn’t simply rely on the fact it’s heavy. It covers so many bases that one can look for in music, even in music completely unlike this, and despite sticking to such a simple formula, it manages to be every bit as remarkable as anyone could want. The finished product is fantastic, the members of the band all individually have their moments, the production compliments absolutely everything perfectly, creating the ideal atmosphere to couple it with. All that can really be said for it by this point is that if you don’t have a separate tab open with the purchase link open, then maybe something’s just a little bit wrong with you.