Ellefson – Sleeping Giants (2019)

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Through his work with Megadeth, Metal Allegiance, Altitudes and Attitude, F5 and Soulfly to name just a few, David Ellefson has become a mainstay in heavy metal circles, and deservedly so.  For this record, his first solo outing, Ellefson has delivered an album that uses variety to get its point across.

Bringing together a crew of musicians to back him up, including John Bush (Armoured Saint, Anthrax), and actually including a selection of demos of F5 material (which I won’t include in this review) Sleeping Giants opens with Vultures, and gets the album off to a solid start.  Thom Hazaert adds the vocals to this track and it’s safe to say he adds an impressive snarl over the top of the heavy musical landscape.  Vultures will appear again just a few tracks later, albeit as a techno remix by Kristian Nairn – as far as remixes go, its long and unnecessary.

The title track again features Thom Hazaert on vocal duties, this time sharing the mic with DMC.  It’s no secret that DMC is a fan of metal, and his inclusion is very welcome, adding a level of mainstream credibility to the track.  Musically, the musicians are definitely channeling Megadeth – it would be hard not to.

Hammer (Comes Down) features Mark Tremonti and Chris Poland shredding all over an impressively heavy and uncompromising track.  It’s a highlight for me.  If You Were God goes for a far more hard rock approach.  John Bush contributes some excellent vocals here, and it honestly leaves me wanting more of his voice, be it on this record or elsewhere…

The next eight tracks are all of the F5 demos, and I’m skipping them in this review.  But I will say that the placement seems strange to me.  They should have been tacked to the end as bonus tracks, rather than dropped in the middle of the record.  It’s really good material though.  I may write it up as its own piece at some stage…

Next we roll into five “bonus tracks” featuring David Glen Eisley of House of Lords fame.  I guess Sleeping Giants is actually three seperate EPs tacked together in a way.  It’s sort of baffling, but these last five tracks are brilliant.

Out in the Rain is soft and very much all about the impressive vocal, while Voices steps it up a notch, with excellent lead guitar, driving rhythm and again, great vocals from Eisley.  I like the first part of the album, but this material blows it out of the water!

Like Father, Like Son is the best of the bunch.  Opening with shredding lead guitar, we’re then treated to amazing vocals – this song is like a combination of classic DIO and Rainbow with some modern stylings.  It comes together brilliantly.

Home borders on ballad territory – Driven by acoustic guitars and more stellar vocals from Eisley, while After All (Said and Done) closes out the collection with a bombastic track that wouldn’t be out of place in the 80’s.  I can actually visualise the accompanying music video now – there’s plenty of hair blowing in the wind.

Aside from the feeling of this being three EPs tacked together, rather than one cohesive album, Sleeping Giants is a pretty good collection of songs.

If I were to give each part a score, I’d put the first part down as 6/10 and the Eisley tracks would get an 8/10.

Review by Shayne McGowan

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