Blasting into the speakers of their listeners, Pittsburgh area natives NeverWake release a single entitled “Hang and Choke” with a follow up EP release. From first listen, I knew this band was a force to be reckoned with – powerful riffs, hearty vocals and harmonies, driving percussion, and lyrics that emanate from a personal chasm. They have many of the tools that set themselves apart from the sea of content available to the masses. Concentrating for a moment on the video for the single, “Hang and Choke” is equally satisfying and pairs well with the feel of the song. Great circling shots of the members rocking out with intermittent shots of a figure completely cloaked in red. A post-apocalyptic look paired with a song relevant for our times. The production value and quality of the video really compliments the driving feel and aggressiveness of the group and their aesthetic and right off, you want more.
Starting off the year NeverWake released the EP “Misguided“, a follow up to their mid-summer release last year (Trapped Inside) which displays more of what they’re good at; powerful, driving riffs, catchy melodies, great solos, and killer breakdowns. The single “Hang and Choke” accompanies 5 other tracks and they all have their own distinct place within the piece as a whole while adorning a very modern, clean yet gritty guitar and drum tones. Johnny D carries the melodies that feel very reminiscent of a newer Matt Heafy (Trivium) while maintaining a look and sound unique to them and what is at the core of NeverWake – rock and roll.
It’s heavy, it’s catchy, its good. Their sound overall feels like Trivium, Breaking Benjamin, and Bullet for My Valentine made a super group. Clearly evident is that Johnny, Geo, Justin, and Marcus have a great working chemistry together and their technique and styles mold to make a great sound. Listening to the EP, it is very clear that they pour their inner-selves into this band. I got to have a great conversation with Justin Sanford to get an even better picture of what this groups goals and experiences have shaped this talented individuals. Out of personal interest, I started by asking the guitarist how they have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were actually discussing this last night during a phone meeting. It has definitely hit every band/musician, but definitely at varying degrees. For us, the biggest thing has basically just been that we haven’t had any shows at all. Which honestly is killing me inside, but we all still have day jobs at this point so technically it hasn’t “hurt” us like it has many others. Historically we’ve been kind of bad at managing our social medias, but that’s one thing we realized during quarantine, that without any shows at all, a social media presence was all we had. Moving forward we’re definitely sticking to trying to be better with that. One thing we were doing for awhile that was a lot of fun was we were live streaming the 4 of us in a discord session playing hilarious games while having adult beverages and chatting with our SleepWalkers as they commented.” The SleepWalkers is what they have aptly named their dedicated followers Justin conveyed as he mentioned how much the band misses their fans from shows being halted.
I was curious of the origin of the name NeverWake. Sanford explained the type of music they were creating at the time just told these stories that felt like, “a nightmare you never wake up from,” and that’s how it came about. At the time there were a lot of long-name artists coming out and the band just liked the name NeverWake, ” ’cause it was short and sounded cool.” To my inquiring on what makes their sound unique from other metal bands, when new material is being put out daily, Justin commented, “Well, we have the bands that we all love like Trivium, As I Lay Dying, Bullet for My Valentine, Soilwork, and In Flames but we each have very different interests and inspirations too. Johnny is big into Equilibrium which is folky and symphonic. Marcus is big into prog type of stuff, dare I say ‘djent’ bands like Periphery and such. George is a massive Slipknot fan. I’m a huge Zakk Wylde fan, so we have common likes, but when it comes down to how we think about or approach certain things, those other widely varied influences come into play and help give us the sound we’ve grown into.”
The two previous full length releases Vitality and SleepWalker reflect the various sounds that inspire this group. In addition the two EP’s, which were produced by John Moyer of Disturbed, really show the growth and evolution of their sound. “We just released our newest EP January 15th, so we’re really excited about that, but also super excited to move on to new material cause sadly we have been sitting on the EP for a while. We’re going to be working on new music and hopefully getting back to the stage asap! We had our first national tour in the spring of ’19 and were dying to hit the road again.” These guys are definitely heading in the right direction and have their eyes set on the future well past the pandemic that has made every musician re-evaluate the approach to just about every aspect of this ever changing market we are apart of. Justin speaks on behalf of the band directly to their fans – “We love and miss you SleepWalkers a ton! The support you continue to show us is just awesome, and we cannot wait to get back to partying and head banging with you!”
Watch the video for “Hang and Choke” above, check them out on your favorite music platform and answer the question for yourself – Are we never asleep, or do we truly NeverWake?