SiM has been doing an exceptional job of getting us hyped for their sixth studio album PLAYDEAD. With singles dropping left and right, tours across the world, and constant promotion, the question was going to be, will it live up to the hype?

 So let me tell youit absolutely does.

The singles released before the album, like RED and KiSS OF DEATH were mere snippets taken out of context. Combined with the rest of the album, it feels like the band took all the sounds that tickled their fancy and slammed them into one record. In a mishmash of punk, hardcore, SKA, nu-metal, and metalcorethey have created an album that is cohesive, heavy and an all-around magnificent listen.

Right from the start with the two-minute title track PLAYDEAD, this vampiric, nu-metal-inspired introduction lures you in. Sultry vocals over an almost sensual rhythm section set the tone nicely, preparing your ears for the delights they are about to experience.

Next, the album goes straight into the track RED, which was the first proper single released off the album. If there is one thing SiM gets right, they can strip back a song and build it back up. The verses are impossible to not dance to and RED is no exception. It then bursts into a chorus that is so brilliantly written. 

This formula is repeated throughout the entire album, but it never gets tiresome. HiDE and SEEK sounds like it is going to be a metalcore classic, then turns into a funky little SKA track in the verses. The reggae influences are more than just instrumental, with frontman MAH capturing the vocal phrasing of the genre. The switch from heavy to funky is a rollercoaster you don’t want to get off. 

SWEET DREAMS feels very similar, but suddenly it jolts you awake with an out of nowhere heavy as hell breakdown. There is a whisper of psychobilly influence that is so expertly used throughout the verses.

One of my favorite elements about this album is the flow of the track listing. Styles of playing, different genre elements—if a track introduces it, they use it going forward into the next. For instance, the psychobilly styles in SWEET DREAMS that have a California punk vibe continue. 

Die Alone inherently belongs to SiN the bass player. This song has one of the most fun riffs on guitar, but the bass truly is working overtime. The whole feel of this track is as if Billy Talent wrote metalcore. MAH’s growls are also a reminder that this band does fit into the core genre and as we head into Too Late, the core element appears again. With a breakdown into a two-step momentthe band does not merely borrow parts from other genres, they truly morph them into their sound.

KiSS OF DEATH, one of the more recent singles was my favorite single release and it just sounds even stronger in the context of the album. It is eclectic and catchy, and honestly, this would be the track I would show people if they asked about what kind of music SiM makes. It sticks in your head and will have you dancing in the pit. The echoing chorus, the main riffs, the harmonics, and the fun little breakdown are hallmarks of the track.

SiM “KiSS OF DEATH” Music Video

This brings us to halfway through the album to Sad Song, the other track I would show people to highlight the range this band has. It is placed brilliantly in the track listing as it feels like a breath of fresh air amongst the heaviness. At least sonically, the melancholy feel of this track still has heavy moments, but the lyrics are what hits you. Stripped back to highlight the lyrics, it is another instance where the bass shines through. It is anthemic and a very mature example of songwriting. It feels like one of the strongest tracks on the album.

SiM "Sad Song" Music Video

BBT brings the speed back. It is punk rock in sound and vibe, and it dips back into that psychobilly guitar. There is so much freedom in the way this track was put together. Throw in some metalcore, throw in some punk rock, throw in a little reggae, and here is a little rockabillywhy not? The riff is catchy. The adlibs are fun. The lyrics are rousing, setting the vibe for the last few tracks. 

If you are wondering what song the new encore song for SiM should be live, then it should be DO THE DANCE. Without even reading any spoilers or watching any footage, this track sounds like it goes off live. Honestly, there is not much else to say about this track.

Every track seemed to build on itself and I did not get bored so when I got to the track Not So Weak, I didn’t expect to be blown away anymore. Well, I was wrong. This song is hands down my favorite song on the whole album. As a metalcore fiend, it speaks to my heart. As a dancer, it speaks to the soul. As an elder emo, all I’m going to say is the little spoken word sections sent me feral. The sing-song guitar moments are just fantastic. I am being deliberately vague as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Finishing off the album is two tracks from the Attack on Titan soundtrack. I am going to admit that as good as SiM’s anime theme songs are, I don’t always think they are the best of what the band has to offer. Despite this UNDER THE TREE is objectively a good song. It is The Rumbling part two as it follows the story onwards. There is a gothic rock vibe to it though we don’t see too much of it in the rest of the album, but as with all other styles that SiM tends to explore, it sounds authentic. Of course, though, the inclusion of a nasty breakdown, even a small one, is always the icing on the cake.

SiM - UNDER THE TREE (Full Length Ver.) Anime Special Ver.

Speaking of The Rumblingthe final track is an orchestral version. By now, we all are aware of this track and this newly recorded version keeps us talking about it. MAH’s vocals do sound incredible so it is worth the listen. 

Ultimately, PLAYDEAD is an exceptional album. With the attention The Rumbling brought SiM, especially internationally, it was important for them to show they were more than just a band that plays “anime songs”. This is a mission they have completed with 100% success.


Can’t get enough of PLAYDEAD? For a look inside vocalist MAH’s head, hear about the album in his own words on Spotify’s playlist series “Liner Voice+”. You can tune in here!

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Stream
CD
  1. PLAYDEAD
  2. RED
  3. HiDE and SEEK
  4. SWEET DREAMS
  5. Die Alone
  6. TOO LATE
  7. KiSS of DEATH
  8. Sad Song
  9. BBT
  10. DO THE DANCE
  11. Not So Weak
  12. UNDER THE TREE (Full Length Ver.)
  13. The Rumbling (Orchestra Ver.)