Rogue Wave’s third album is their deepest, reflecting a period of serious circumstances and change for everyone in the band. As the band became less of The Zach Rogue Wave and more of a traditional four-piece over the last couple of years, this album has a riverbottom flow compared to the splashing on Descended Like Vultures. With a new lease on life and cohesion, Rogue Wave now sounds like a band on a real mission.
What jumps out about Asleep At Heaven’s Gate is each song’s desire to involve the listener more on an aesthetic level, rather than just an adrenal level. There’s a new, deeper perspective that the band demonstrates on the album, which pushes songs longer, develops them further, and ultimately creates a more inspired piece of work. The opening six-and-a-half minute “Harmonium” is an easy example of their new style. A quick hi-hat introduces guitars that crash and gallop along a thumping drumbeat, which sets a hopeful “new” tone at the start. It resolves into a poignantly soft verse, then repeats itself before finishing as a stomping, cathartic anthem. It’s as if they’ve been storing up all the energy, frustration, and love of the last couple of years and release a lot of it here.
The next track, “Like I Needed” is a cerebral jam that tumbles along a restrained beat, and the band’s ability to focus these moments better makes it that much stronger. Whatever fluidity past efforts might have lacked is truly accomplished here. “Chicago X 12” is just about the most chill song they’ve ever put out until it erupts in the last couple of minutes. Even on the pounding beat of “Lake Michigan”, the band swerve the vehicle and stomp on the pedals with both hands on the wheel.
While the first half of the album is intense, the second half possesses plenty of memorable moments as well. “Christians In Black” has amazing smoothness through the subtle acoustic guitar interplay and Rogue’s echoed vocals. “Phonytown” is a throwback to 60’s rock with a strong metallic twang mixed with a cheeky Taxman-like jam, but with an obviously ominous tone. And despite the titles, “Cheaper Than Therapy” is actually a better song to tuck someone in to than “Lullaby”.
After going through a lot since their last record, Rogue Wave channeled a lot of that energy and emotion into making a new record in a little different light. They trade dynamic for depth, yet retain a significantly compelling sound. Asleep At Heaven’s Gate really reflects the band’s new-found gravity.