Musically conveying the mind’s processes throughout the day is, in itself, something difficult to get your head around. Wicked Snakes attempt just that with ‘Sleep Dance’, a psychedelic journey through a range of psychological states grounded in heavy rock-infused riffs. As bizarrely intriguing as it might sound, the Staffordshire quartet’s debut is sadly nothing ground-breaking, but refreshing nonetheless.
Having emerged little over a year ago, Wicked Snakes have made some respectable progress in their field, signing to A Wolf At Your Door Records, birthplace of Mallory Knox and Lower Than Atlantis. However, comparison with the label’s alumni is near impossible, as Wicked Snakes stray from the path with their entrancing take on surreal rock. Guitarist David McQueen is the star of the show, consistently delivering contagious riffs and expert fretwork over a background of somewhat mismatched vocals and atmospheric fillers.
’First Light’’s trance-enducing opener presents a tricksy, catchy riff combined with Luke Davis’ raw, emotional vocals, capturing the ambition and anticipation of the first seconds of the day. However, true to everyone’s experience of most days, these expectations slump eventually, leading to one willing to see the end.
However, the record has its captivating moments, as the wonderfully catchy album-stealer ’Wonder and Delirium’ showcases jig-worthy expert guitar work right up to the last second. At times heavy and foreboding, Wicked Snakes combine hard-hitting anthemic melodies with contagious drums with ’Escapism’.
The title track holds a classic leading riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Metallica record, while Davis’ unadulterated vocals combined with the flawless acoustic ‘Dusk’ demonstrate the band’s passionate approach to their genre-bending music. Their potential is clear to see, but nobody’s debut is flawless. While the occasional cheerfully 80s build-up is promptly shattered by heavy, sassy riffs, Wicked Snakes stay true to the lines of ’Desert Haze’ – “they come out at night, there’s no need for light” – although at times intentionally entrancing, the album’s melodic concept can take psychedelia to a dangerously sleepy degree.
‘Cold Moon Rise’ presents a reflective, swaying lament accompanied by an unexpected heavy bass line, encapsulating the mind’s processing of complex emotions – it’s all in a day’s work for them. With an interlude that becomes a welcome platform for McQueen’s talents on the electric, their debut closes on the brooding ’Dream in Paralysis’, describing the end of the brain’s hard work throughout the day, a characterisation of the energised suffering of a driving force in need of a break.
If you’re missing the swaying melodies of The Killers’ earlier work, this will be right up your alley. While Wicked Snakes have a long way to go, for a debut, ‘Sleep Dance’ hits a few good notes to prove their potential in future.
Sleep Dance by Wicked Snakes is out now on A Wolf At Your Door Records.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)