Tragedy in Hope – Sleep Paralysis Review

Alright, here’s a new one for you. A self-released black metal album masterminded by a singular individual who recruited a drummer shortly after formation. I… wait a second… that’s not new! Anyway, St. Petersburg resident and shadow wraith Sasha Giller’s black metal project Tragedy in Hope formed at some point in the past (no founding date is listed on the almighty Metallum, so…) and started releasing material with drummer Alexander Dovgan’1 in 2017. There was a one-year gap in 2020, for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom whatsoever. Now comes Sleep Paralysis, their first full-length record. Let’s see what the duo delivered for me this winter season, shall we?

After unboxing this frigid little chunk of blackened fare, I discovered three things. Firstly, the vocal techniques applied to Sleep Paralysis happen to be fairly androgynous, which adds mystique to the project. Secondly, Sleep Paralysis feels very much like a concept album, dealing with a wide spectrum of mental and emotional distresses, including actual sleep paralysis. Drama bleeds all over this album, and Sasha often takes on multiple roles, both male and female, in the service of each segment in the story. My third and final discovery complicates matters. Sleep Paralysis is an earnest, compelling record that nevertheless suffers from serious, but redeemable issues.

My favorite song on the record is “Winter Wedding Ceremony.” It’s creepy as hell, and manages to toe the line separating gravity from cringe quite well. Part of what makes this song particularly successful is Sasha’s cutting shrieks, which sound impressively deranged album-wide. I love his vocals, which contrast beautifully with the overtly musical leads he pens as accompaniment. “The Mistress of Dark Art” and “Sleep Paralysis” especially demonstrate his skill with melodies, combining catchy leadwork with soaring synths and dramatic organs to create something theatrical without feeling cheesy. The drumming of Dovgan is similarly tactful, restrained in execution but willing to explore patterns and fills freely as the songs demand. In fact, there are few insufficiencies I can find with Sleep Paralysis from a songwriting perspective, as the whole provides lots of momentum throughout and offers enough variety to keep listeners guessing on a track-by-track basis.

However, what few songwriting blemishes that do exist conspire to unravel Tragedy in Hope‘s otherwise well-made tapestry. One drawback comes in the form of lyrics. Sasha is fluent enough in English that I fully grasp the intent and emotion behind his words, and his vocabulary is impressive, but the phrasing is awkward and, on occasion, distracting. Lyrics aside, the album lacks memorable riffs. That wouldn’t be a problem if this was atmoblack or some form of metal that prioritizes other elements over riffs, but there are a good number of riffs here, and only one or two of them stick. Sasha pleasantly arranged often memorable leads, so the riffs that support them ought to rip at least as hard. Lastly, the symphonic elements sound cheap and flimsy. As a result, they add a fraction of the grandiosity that they should. On the other hand, I find the balance between symphonics and metallics to be ideal, a rare feat in the arena of bombastic metal.

Don’t let the score below fool you. I like this album a lot. It’s endearing, dramatic, and earnest, compelling in many ways which make it worth my time and, by extension, yours. Sleep Paralysis simply demonstrates that Tragedy in Hope has a lot of growth left to undergo, whether it be in the lyrical structure, overall riffcraft, or the integration of symphonic flourishes. Nevertheless, Tragedy in Hope roped me in and I’m fully invested in hearing a lot more from Sasha, Dovgan’, and whoever else joins them in the years to come.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 12th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Who puts a fucking apostrophe at the end of their fucking name?? – Dr. ANGrier
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