Published on April 25th, 2018 | by Craig Silliphant0
Sleep – The Sciences
Doom metal truthsayers (and Sabbath offspring) Sleep release a new album, The Sciences. It’s a glorious beast, more than capable of upholding their past glories.
Do you like Black Sabbath? Do you like Black Sabbath slowed down, a few steps away from being chopped and screwed? Then you’d love Sleep.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them twice now — once at a Masonic Temple in Brooklyn and once at Sled Island Music Festival in Calgary a few years ago. You know you’re at a Sleep show when three different people try to hand you joints all at once (true story). However, you don’t have to smoke dope to dig Sleep, in fact, calling it a prerequisite for enjoyment is stupid (and the crux of a few reviews of the new album that I’ve seen so far). Frankly, I think all the 4/20 jokes are passe and lazy, but there’s no getting around the references to herbal jazz cigarettes here. I mean, Sleep did release this album on 4/20 and they’re definitely broadcasting their own love of the green stuff out into the cosmos.
The new album, ‘The Sciences,’ has several nods to Sabbath, including a song called, ‘Giza Butler.’ When I first heard Sleep in the early nineties, all I could think of was Sabbath. However, I barely hear that now. Sure, they still sound like that, but to me, it’s become its own thing.
That there is a new Sleep album is remarkable. For years, they were caught up in legal hassles and they had issues releasing their opus, 63-minute song (which eventually became both ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Dopesmoker,’ sort of). They broke up rather than allowing their vision to be tainted. In fact, I remember when I saw them, both times, thinking that it was amazing they were even back playing together. How often is there a semi-obscure doom metal band that you loved 20 years ago that fades away into legend, only to rise again from the ashes?
‘The Sciences’ is a sweaty, smoky basement jam, pulsating with Hyborian riffs; beautiful trance through droning repetition. It buzzes and hums like a giant Lovecraftian creature from space, lumbering along, weighed down in our gravity. But the monster is also surprisingly nimble in places, able to emerge from the ocean to grab your battleship and break it in half — which is a fancy way of saying, the album as a whole is pretty short and the songs obey basic structure more than some of their past work. Each time I’ve listened to it, I’m wishing it wasn’t over when it ends.
Sleep isn’t really doing anything new, but I don’t need them to. While they may sound like the sinister coming of doom, it’s actually more relaxing to me than Bach’s ‘Air on G.’ It’s a comfortable slow head nod while I’m working, driving, reading, whatever. I’m thrilled to have new material, and doubly thrilled that they continue to maintain their legacy.