It’s for the twentieth day of april 2018 (written 4/20 in the USA) that the american band Sleep decided to make us a small gift. A new record, named The Sciences, that fans were waiting since 2003.
But let’s come back first on the Doom/Stoner legend’s story. Created by Matt Pike (guitar, High On Fire), Al Cisneros (bass/vocals, Om, Shrinebuilder) and Chris Hakius (ex-Om, ex-Shrinebuilder) in 1989 after Asbestos Death disbanded, the three of them work with Justin Marler (guitar, Quick and the Dead) to record a really well-made first album. Justin’s departure in 1992 doesn’t affect their creativity so they record an EP the same year, followed by a new album. In 1998 the band release Jerusalem, considered at this time as their biggest masterpiece, but they disband the same year. While they are on hiatus, they release Dopesmoker, an extended and remastered version of Jerusalem. With this one, they definitely become part of the legend. While the band members focus on other projects, the gather again in 2009 right before Chris Hakius retire from music. Jason Roeder (Neurosis) takes his place, but the band only play some selected shows. They announced to be in recording studio since a while, but we had no further informations… until april 19th. Just get comfortable.
The record begins with The Sciences, the eponymous track, on a harnessed larsen. Disturbing and greasy Stoner tones already sound, but we have to wait until the end of this instrumental introduction to hear a clear sound with Marijuanaut’s Theme that is introduced by… a bong. Its characteristic sound encourages some consumption before this slow, greasy but mainly haunting flood comes upon us. I swear that I was sober from beginning to end, but those hypnotic riffs, combined to Al Cisneros’ voice get me in on the very first notes. Some well placed harmonics from time to time, and also a tortured lead guitar and your will is gone. In a short, we instantly begin to nod following Jason’s hits rhythm. There is no need for the band to combine technical parts, rhythmic runs of itself, allowing Matt Pike to put an unannounced solo, and it’s good to find the americans after fifteen years of absence. The track suddenly ends to continue on Sonic Titan, a longer and slower song. When we think that a new song begins after five minutes of a lumering wall of sound, it’s just the follow-up of the composition, as heavy and powerful than previously, but with some vocals and adding psychedelic effects. I let you discover bass’ wizardry on this song.
Tempo increases once again with Antarcticans Thawed, but drum hits are stronger and with a warlike impression. The american’s sluggish riffs entangle us in their music, that slows again and again, allowing them to create drums break before a dissonant and technical guitar solo, while the other instruments strongly hold the rhythmic. Sound vanishes few times after that, but the band water us again with Giza Butler. This kind reference to Black Sabbath’s iconic bass player, that quietly starts with some heartbeat under Blues influences explodes all at once to present us an unprecedented powerful riff. Bass sound makes my mind run miles away from my head while keeping me connected to reality thanks to those wild harmonics. Once recovered, The Botanist, the last track, starts. This composition, which clearly wouldn’t be born without some extra stuff, is way more atmospheric than the other ones. Bass, high as hell, holds rhythm part with drums, allowing Matt to do what he wants to with his guitar. And the man will not hesitate : clean sound, full-distorted solo, final larsen, many effects… The track ends after what sounds like an experimental music track.
Sleep wanted to reward us for waiting them with The Sciences. And it was worth the wait! Every composition is a new monument, and the whole album confirms that the band improves with time. It’s uncommon to see them on stage, and I look forward to see the legend live, in a venue or during a festival.