Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Album Review: Sleep - The Sciences

Sleep
The Sciences
***out of *****

The slumbering beasts of the stoner rock world, Sleep made a surprise return this spring on Third Man Records with The Sciences, their first full length record since Dopesmoker in 2003.

Calling this a full length is no joke as the tracks (outside of an intro) all run aggressively long. Also calling this band stoner rock is extremely on point as they continuously reference weed in the lyrics and have a recorded bong hit kicking off "Marijuanaut's Theme".

If heavy metal and weed don't appeal to you, right off the bat you should probably skip this. The metal appeals, but I haven't smoked weed in a very long time and have zero desire to so these tracks are cool but the tempos could have used a pick me up or at least more variation to these non-enhanced ears.

In truth I wanted to like this record more. I love guitarist Mike Pike's High on Fire recent releases and have enjoyed stoner rock, but while some efforts worked fine, this full release didn't click as anticipated. Opening with the title track intro, huge percussion was unveiled, yet sadly those massive drums were not returned to as the band got blazed and started trudging.

Bassist and lead singer Al Cisneros already mentioned tube pull starts "Marijuanaut's Theme" before the clanging riffs and drum hits blast out. Cisneros deadpan vocals grate a bit as the themes of space travel and weed smoking interlock on the better full effort (and disk highlight) "Sonic Titan" which mashes deep bass runs, drum fills and fret board riffing into a huge monstrous doom metal track.

Listen to Sleep for ten seconds and you realize they are deeply indebted to the sound of Black Sabbath and the trio pay direct tribute to their icons with "Giza Butler". Starting out with low soft bass which keeps slowly expanding, finishing with the crashing cymbals of Jason Roeder. Lyrically the song praises Sabbath and weed (of course) calling marijuana the light and salvation along the path.

Perhaps more interesting is the ripping guitar soloing from Pike around the eleven minute mark on the sludge filled "Antarcticans Thawed" or the grooving tempo change/bass effects during the second half of instrumental closer "The Botanist". Any-which-way the great thing about this record is listening to it when altered and finding new feedback, bass bombs and tom rolls out of the ganja haze.

When dropping the needle on The Sciences, prep accordingly.   
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