It’s uncertain whether Sidewave set out to sound like Failure on their full length Glass Giant, but if they did, they succeeded with flying colors. Where Sidewave may be more prone to an uplifting chorus, their merging of elements of hardcore, sludgey grunge, and shoegaze leaves them sounding more like Failure than Failure.
High lead guitars shriek like metal melodically expanding and contracting before collapsing beneath the weight of a lead anchored chorus on “Grounded.” It’s the feeling of being unable to drag your head off the ground, though luckily the gutter is generously littered with shining stars. “Lace” finds a whammy bar stretching and distorting memories and nostalgia, with chords evoking sunfaded Polaroids of summer memories. At times the vocals are reminiscent of Blinker the Star (close collaborators with Failure’s Ken Andrews).
Luckily, Sidewave are still committed to recording Glass Giant as opposed to Fantastic Planet II and the distinctions are clearer as subtle synths add a tinge of new wave to the strangely optimistic sludge of “Supersonic.” An almost entirely different mood is explored in the Sabbath-style stoner metal of “Honest to God” though the chorus lifts us back to familiar stargazing optimism and cold comforts of wintry love songs.
Murky post-punk angularity characterizes “Pines” before giving way to tried-and-true sludge punching on the chorus while “Romance is Dead” uses a fast-paced melancholy to great effect before colliding with the density of pure trudging gloom.
Surprisingly, Glass Giant ends more powerfully than its begins with some of its best material weighting the conclusion. Dynamic melodies are saturated with distortion on “Hearts.” Easily one of the best tracks on the record, its nimbleness through the muck sets it apart from its brethren while remaining true to the record’s sound. “Illusion of Light” seems to alternate between light and dark with each step, creating a dynamism that hones into a focus on a lone star in an otherwise black arctic night. Perhaps “Crystallized” sums up Glass Giant best with its juxtapositon of brutality and soft wistful vocals.
Sidewave may still be searching for their sound, but in the meantime I can’t think of a band that would be better suited to open for Failure on their next tour. Originality can go a long way but then again so can sounding a lot like a really great band.