Sound — 4
Seeing their music as 21st-century hymns and their shows like a new form of church service, Sleeping Giant aren't at all apprehensive to paint themselves as preachers for their generation - but perhaps that's also because founding members Tom Green and Eric Gregson run actual church services along with making music. This ethos can be seen as an admirable adamancy to their faith and duties as Christians just as much as it can be seen as a groan-worthy case of smug sanctimony in the metal world, but either way, their next-gen sermons have proved to be successful in the Christian metal scene, having toured with fellow Christian metal veterans Demon Hunter and been involved in nearly every Scream The Prayer Tour since it was founded in 2008. Their latest album, "Kingdom Days in an Evil Age," improved on their metalcore elements, turned the dial of heaviness up to a satisfying amount, and overall, showed that Sleeping Giant had grown a noteworthy set of fangs to set themselves apart from the myriad of American metalcore bands. With that bar properly raised, Sleeping Giant come back again with their fourth album, "Finished People."
Musically, "Finished People" can be described as bearing Biblical-esque traditionalism for metalcore, which results as more of a negative than a positive. Sleeping Giant fill up the album with your conventional down-tuned riffs, chugging patterns and basic breakdowns, and while the thrashier-sided riffs in "Death Knell" and "Brother's Keeper" may provide some good energy, it's eclipsed by the album's lack of any substantially distinctive instrumental elements. From the tedious guitar-work in "Son of God, Son of Man" and "Victory," to the fact that all but one song on the album ends in a breakdown, "Finished People" seems almost shameless in its monotonous nature. Even the piano ballad track "Violence" ends up feeling like a lesser duplicate of Sleeping Giant's earlier piano ballad track "He Will Reign" on "Sons of Thunder," and fails to provide an original low gear for "Finished People." On the smaller but positive side, though, "Finished People" doesn't saturate itself in overproduction like many other recent metalcore albums. The chugging patterns and harsh vocals aren't roided up with gated post-production, and choruses aren't soaked with synthetic string or choir synths to give it a churchier feel to it (perhaps even Sleeping Giant were aware how much of a shark-jump that would have been). You'll come across a few filtered guitar riff intros and breaks, but the biggest production choice is the return of religious speech sampling, which was used a lot in Sleeping Giant's earlier work but wasn't prominent in the previous "Kingdom Days in an Evil Age" - for those that enjoyed that sampling, that's essentially the only thing this album has over its predecessor, but in all other sound aspects, "Finished People" is a meager output.
Lyrics — 6
Though Sleeping Giant can easily be undermined as brandishing nothing but Christian messages in their lyrics, the same can be said for the many metalcore bands that churn out baseless lyrics of chest-beating bravado. In fact, that hyper-aggro characteristic in metalcore's subculture is one of the issues Tom Green tackles in "Finished People"; particularly in "Overthrow," where Green has described how the song is about the hardcore scene's adoration of prison culture and how it's ultimately detrimental to those that idolize it - Green extents the concerns of living in an anger-driven culture in "Clutches," and addresses prisoners in general in "Finished People," where amongst describing how serving jailtime saps the hope out of somebody, they still deserve the attention and forgiveness of God if they desire salvation. This specificity in message helps "Finished People" set itself apart from other Sleeping Giant albums, but the album isn't exclusively about the topic, and after a third into the album, it goes back to the status quo Christian metalcore lyrics of the strength of Christianity, Jesus, and the kingdom of Heaven; i.e., what is expected from Christian metalcore and Sleeping Giant, so take it as you will.
Overall Impression — 5
As Sleeping Giant continue on (or perhaps more appropriately, as the band members get older), one can see that the band is more concerned with the messages in their music than the music they make. "Finished People" definitely comes off as an album where the initial message was conceived before any music was written, and while that message was something new and admirable for the band, it should have been given even more focus and elaboration than it did. What seals the fate of "Finished People," however, is the meager metalcore vessel it uses to deliver the album's message. Distinct lyrics can make a so-so album something more, but throughout the album, it feels like Sleeping Giant didn't put much effort into the music side of "Finished People"; and for following up Sleeping Giant's most impressive album, "Kingdom Days in an Evil Age," "Finished People" rings with inadequacy.