Some people are keeping Portland weird, and others are keeping Portland heavy. Sons of Huns, a very grunge/punk/metal band, belongs somewhere in that latter group (and maybe a little in the first). See, Sons of Huns is all about the heavy melodic instrumentals that wash you away into another realm. Their music is the wraith’s howl, the poltergeist’s percussive pounding –it’s enthralling and haunting. The band’s sophomore album and latest release is an epitome of their creativity. With a little extra help from some other musicians (very notably Melvins drummer, Dale Crover), While Sleeping Stay Awake is something of another kind.
While Sleeping Stay Awake is the soundtrack for being badass. Sons of Huns new release is ferocious. Each song builds itself around a lyrical tale, while the instruments go to work constructing hellish soundscape filled with vehement guitar lines and rhythmic eruptions of drums. Without doubt the opening track alone will hook you in for the ride. “Osiris Slain,” is all about the resonating guitar melody, partnered with some grungy vocals. As the song jumps in energy, the vocals become much strong and the guitar breaks into its own fantastic riffs. Before the song ends, the band gives us one hell of a solo and then the atmosphere becomes a bit darker and the song slows up –segueing perfectly into the next track.
Of the albums most memorable tunes is “Philosopher’s Stone.” For this track, Sons of Huns perfectly adopts this psychedelic grunge vibe. The entire song is a nasty tribute to the mind-expanding fungi –emphasized by lyrics like, “It’s time to consume the magic mushroom, philosopher’s stone, to know the unknown.” With a repeating thunderous instrumental section, and a hefty amount of distortion, the band sets the mood just right and creates one of the better dark psychedelic rock songs out there.
From a less fanatic viewpoint, it’s also pretty easy to paint the band’s newest album as something bland. There’s no creative risks, the album feels safe. Furthermore, the band in some ways made the musical equivalent of “Gummo.” Every song to be heard on While Sleeping Stay Awake is like that great moment in the album where things hit their climax –it’s like listening to a “Greatest Hits” album. There’s no chance for anything to be bad, because it’s all a play on what already sounds good. That being said, the album as a whole suffers a bit and in general Sons of Huns leaves you craving something a little more interesting. While this isn’t the most severe flaw (maybe not a flaw at all), it’s probably still worth the mention. A little more substance would have been nice than the overly exceptional prose.
Sons of Huns’ While Sleeping Stay Awake is heavy metal pestilence. The album is infectious and feverish. It’s an absolutely fantastic trip into the dark unknown, exploring the myths and legends of humanity’s nightmares. This album is better written as a prescription rather than a recommendation. While Sleeping Stay Awake is the perfect addition to any metalheads repertoire.