Before I got into heavy music, I had no idea something like “hardcore worship” existed. But with their guitar chugs, searing vocal attack, and God-praising lyrics, Sleeping Giant ended up being a match made in heaven for an angsty Christian teen like myself. Like their contemporaries on spiritual radio stations, however, there’s always the big complaint that the music is generic or boring, with artists using the excuse that their material is “only meant to worship God” to suffice. At least for me, it has made this kind of music far more watered down and lifeless than it’s really meant to be. So on the exalting metalheads’ fourth record, they take their worshipping hands to the next level, directing more of their focus on the craft and instrumentation, but without taking any focus off God.
The thing that makes Sleeping Giant stand out most is their passion. Passion not only brings out the biggest strengths in musicians and shows intense care and effort, but it often brings out the personality of the members as an entity. Because of this, bands like the trio stand out for their discrete, human style. Finished People, named to honor an event that happened thousands of years ago in the death of Jesus, feels just as poignant and timely today because Tommy Green and the gang power through the album’s songs in immaculate emotional fashion. And some upgraded production, heightened group dynamics, and superb songwriting sure help, too.
If you’re looking for some crushing instrumentation, this record is a perfect match. The quality of breakdowns is excellent; some of that is thanks to the top-notch production, and some of it is just mindful placement. The writing in general is sharper and more aware than in the past, making sure that the message is driven home at all costs but keeping things interesting along the way. Whether it’s the booming breakdowns of “Clutches” following the line “The only freedom I’ve found / is radical love” or the heaving build-up in “Christus Victor” that allows for a bombastic finish, the blazing glory that Green speaks about goes hand-in-hand with the musical inferno alongside him. It’s a shame the frontman’s screams are few and far between on this release, even though his shouts provide strength and his cleans uplift the songs.
Still, Green is able to create some interesting dynamics with a slew of guest vocalists throughout Finished People. Brook Reeves destroys as always in “Overthrow”, a standout track that tackles prison culture with bouncy riffs and some fiery growls from the Impending Doom frontman. Similar to what the band did with Emmure’s Frankie Palmeri on their last record, they bring in a spot with Drew Di Jorio of Stray From The Path. Despite their different beliefs, the combined raspiness and sleek harmonies of the two vocalists show that chemistry has no limits, and it’s something to be lauded about Sleeping Giant. They don’t bind themselves because of their faith; instead, they seek perspective and aim for their art to be as unconditional as possible. The “radical love” the band preaches turns out to be extremely inspiring in that regard.
Unlike the other spots, Levi The Poet steers “Violence”. Instead of pulling for a verse trade-off similar to his appearance on To Speak of Wolves’ latest effort, chilling piano and some shouts from Green back the poet’s typical creaky style. The theme of the final track, “Victory”, is obvious: the battle that has already been won by the blood of Jesus, and it finishes off the record with some of the group’s most artistically-sound music and lyrics to date (“I have the DNA of Heaven in me”). Like “Violence”, its classic hymn ending pushes the group’s sound to the very brink, forming a versatile whole despite its few imbalances.
It’s amazing how much Sleeping Giant has grown since their rough debut, and it’s even more amazing to look at the entire scope of their career and realize there’s still some potential left to unlock. Arguably the biggest complaint aside from the lack of screams is that the album’s riffage and melodicism could’ve been a bit more diverse. Despite some unique elements here and there, some tracks run together and a select few stand more stout than others. But the music is of higher quality on these guys’ newest work than any of their others, and it showcases a band tapping into their deepest, most inspired passion, tenacity, and honesty in a genre where those traits are extremely important. Sleeping Giant continually is a breath of fresh air thanks to their intensely passionate God-breathed metal tunes, and Finished People is prime evidence of this.
Hardcore/Metalcore | Century Media