Review: Sleeping With Sirens Returns With Defiant, Energetic New Single “Bloody Knuckles”
When I met Sleeping With Sirens for the first time at an event for the release of their album ”How It Feels To Be Lost” back in September 2019, I cried in the car on the way home. Odd way to start a single review, I know, but stick with me here.
The Orlando, Florida natives were my introduction to alternative music and heavy music in general on a more modern scale. My dad had played all kinds of bands under the “rock” umbrella for me, from Boston and Rush to Tool and Chevelle, and for as much as I loved them, there was always a disconnect; these were bands that my dad liked, not bands that I found on my own, and there was a significant generational gap between myself and all of the members.
When I was ten years old, Sleeping With Sirens released their third studio album, titled “Feel.” I listened to it for the first time a few weeks after it dropped, thanks to my favorite counselor at Girl Scout Camp who played it for me one day at the pool (shoutout to Jodi, who I’m still friends with today).
Immediately, I felt connected to this band and this album. They didn’t sound like the music I heard on the radio, a concept that was completely unfamiliar to me, and their lyrics held meaning, which is something else that I wasn’t used to. Imagine how excited I was when I learned that there were hundreds of other bands that also sounded like this?
If I never started listening to Sleeping With Sirens, I would’ve never found bands like Pierce The Veil, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Of Mice & Men, all crucial parts of my middle school emo phase. If I hadn’t found those bands, I would have never started listening to some of my pop-punk/pop-punk-adjacent favorites like Waterparks, The Front Bottoms, Modern Baseball, State Champs, Knuckle Puck, and Real Friends.
It’s because of all of those bands that I found, one way or another, I found some of my favorite artists of all time, like Neck Deep, Rich People, Save Face, Homesafe, Boston Manor, and Bearings. There’s no way that I would have started listening to and becoming so involved in hardcore/straight-edge music if I didn’t become a fan of Sleeping With Sirens, which is kind of a crazy thing to think about.
Most of all, I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people and made so many friends at concerts and on social media if I never started listening to this band. Working in and writing about music probably wouldn’t be such a big part of my life either. It really is crazy how one band can create a domino effect within your music taste and within your life, and, for me, Sleeping With Sirens was that band, the catalyst for so many important things happening for me.
I really owe a lot to them. I’ll probably write a more in-depth piece about all of that in the future, how I went from being scared to tell my family I listened to this band’s “scary” music to my mom watching me crowd surf to them in another state in a new city a few years later, but that’s a story for another day.
Fast forward eight years later. I’m 18 now, about to graduate high school, and it’s been a long time since I was hearing “Feel” for the first time poolside at Girl Scout Camp with Jodi. The band has released their first piece of original music since 2019, a single called “Bloody Knuckles.”
In a year as tumultuous as 2020 was in literally every possible way, the band dropped a deluxe version of their 2019 record “How It Feels To Be Lost”, with three acoustic versions of existing tracks and one new song, called “Talking To Myself.” While the latter was one of my favorite songs of the year, it flew under the radar a bit, making “Bloody Knuckles” a comeback of sorts for the emo-alternative veterans.
This is a song that makes you want to get up from your couch and jump around immediately, as vocalist Kellin Quinn yells “fuck it!” and aggressive guitar riffs kick in barely 15 seconds into the track. Lyrically, this track is about defying expectations and rising above adversity, made obvious by the first verse; “You always said I'd be a disappointment / That I'd be nothing and I'd probably lose it all / You thought that I would trip and fall / But you'll never see me beg or crawl.”
These themes are continued in the chorus, as Quinn sings, “We got no reason to lay low...We'll never do what you say, no / Until we drop dead, never let go.” He switches between silky smooth vocals and piercing screams, reminding fans of how versatile his vocal delivery is and always has been.
Sonically, this is a soaring chorus that makes me miss live music way more than I already have for the past year and a half. When asked about the album that the band is currently working on right now, Quinn told RockSound, “[it’s] full of energy and bangers and crowd participation and stuff like that. We’re literally writing it with that in mind so that when we can go back out on tour we have an album that from start to finish can keep the energy up.” Those sentiments are certainly present in this refrain.
The second verse is filled with more of the same encouraging, empowering lyrical content from the first half of the song, found in lines like, “Beat us to the ground, but we will never stay there.” It’s more of the same compared to the rest of their discography, too, but when did that become a bad thing?
Like I mentioned earlier, I got hooked on Sleeping With Sirens because of their unique sound and emotive lyrics. Eight years later, their sound has evolved, but it’s still derived from those same roots sonically. The lyrics are more mature, naturally, as almost a decade has gone by, but they still hold the same emotional weight. Why would I complain about that?
As a whole, “Bloody Knuckles” is anthemic, pairing striking instrumentals with lyrics that are just as impactful, delivering the way that only this band can. We only get one band to introduce us to the music we ultimately end up falling in love with, and with every release that they put out, I become happier that Sleeping With Sirens was that band for me.
“Bloody Knuckles” is available to stream wherever you listen to music, along with the rest of Sleeping With Sirens’ discography. You can support the band by picking up some merch and keeping up with them on social media, @SWSTheBand on Twitter, @SleepingWithSirens on Instagram, and @SleepingWithSirens on Facebook.
Feel free to let me know what your “gateway” band to the genre you love now is by tweeting me @JENSESSlON. For more reviews (and more!), you can follow the blog @StrawbSkiesBlog on Twitter, @StrawberrySkiesBlog on Instagram, and @StrawberrySkiesBlog on Facebook.