Sleep of Ages is an artist specializing in the self-proclaimed “peplum noise wall,” pepla being Italian sword-and-sandal movies from the ’50s and ’60s. Greek gods, gladiatorial references, and heroic artwork are on display on Peplum, the first release from SOA – at least, that’s the theme of the artwork and track titles. But Peplum‘s sound can be more described as a cross between high-intensity feedback and dynamic walls of static, as much of the 40 minutes on the album is devoted to one of these two modes of sound, and often both at the same time.
The outset of Peplum finds tracks that alternate between noisy walls and feedback-driven cuts; tracks one (“Conquest”) and three (“Short Life of a Gladiator”) are more focused on spiky walls of static and looped sounds beneath than tracks two (“The Giant of Metropolis”) and four (“The Colossus of Rhodes”), which trade static for abrasive feedback layers. But Sleep of Ages excels in the two wall tracks moreso than the feedback, as “Metropolis” and “Colossus” tend to feel devoid of structure and instead endlessly shift through numerous different sounds. While they do show Sleep of Ages’ ability to create new noise out of old tones, I like to feel like there’s an ultimate destination rather than continual tweaking.
The last three tracks on Peplum combine these two formulas and, as a result, show a more original side to Sleep of Ages’ set. “Pepla” is appropriately the almost-title track, as it seems to be the shining example of the pairing of high-pitched tones and static. Alternating between crumbling static and blown-out peals, along with razor-sharp sustained feedback that is unwavering in its pitch, “Pepla” is a wall to reckon with: perhaps not in the traditional sense, but difficult to overcome because of its incredible oppositional nature.
The two tracks following are more of the same structure that “Pepla” introduces, with differing variations of squeal-and-rumble. “Zeus Almighty” opens with a very different set of tones, including distorted demented circus tones and organ notes, until a huge wall obliterates it with slashes of feedback. And “To Thebes” also settles for similar vibes, beginning with swooping rushes of static, then oscillating to feedback-driven layerings, until finally settling down into a more traditional harsh noise wall which finds two textures of static roaring together to end the album.
Peplum is interesting, especially for its differences between the giallo-themed HNW and the new peplum-influenced wall of static and feedback. Though I find the combination of the two sounds the most interesting, Sleep of Ages has the ability to crush with the undeniable grating of its high pitch, although perhaps a more formulaic feel to the feedback tracks would be inviting. Peplum is very abrasive, and its screech-and-static leanings seem very promising.