Deep Sleep Operator is a unique entity, blending sci-fi and hard rock together and is done solely DIY from Wisconsin musician Mark Ehlers. The passionate musician has done everything on this debut disc, from writing and mixing all the music and handling every instrument. That’s an impressive feat, but DSO strives to create a palette of sounds/moods to tell a great story within the music itself.
The CD is entitled While the Earth Sleeps, and maybe that’s an appropriate title – especially given how the opening track assaults the listener with sounds of an alien invasion. The track is called “Breaking the Earth” and it sets the tone right away, prompting the listener to brace for the tumultuous ride ahead. The next few tracks pile on the heavy riffs, so “Feed Them Dirt” and “Spiritual Warfare” should indulge and engage the listener mercilessly.
The middle portions of the album shift a bit, building upon melodic passages and adding a dash of industrial and progressive tones into the core sound, but still retaining the heaviness. The chug from the guitars is quite noticeable on “Hyper Division” with Iron Maiden styled harmonies shinning though; while “Nebula-Nightsky Island” and Temple of Massivo” are the strongest tracks progressively. I feel there is a slight nod to Megadeth on the track “Don’t Take a Gun to a Knife Fight”, especially in the riffing department.
Mark’s vocals tend to come across in a raspy-talking like delivery, often reminding me of Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine, and he surely has a flair for theatrics as witnessed in the video for Hyper Division. If you watch the video on YouTube you can plainly see how effective it is to drape yourself in a black hoodie and wear a strange looking mask that reminds me of something out of a Mario Bava movie. The dude has got it down right and it just adds to the flavour of what DSO is all about.
There is much to like here, and I admire anyone who goes the DIY route. You can purchase a copy of While the Earth Sleeps at the band’s website and they are also selling t-shirts too. This is definitely a worthwhile purchase, so please support DSO and marvel at the sheer beauty of sci-fi rock ‘n roll done right. You won’t be disappointed.
Kenneth Gallant, Editor HMS