Sleep shocked the metal world by dropping a surprise album titled simply The Sciences on 4/20, a day where the reefer they enjoy so much gains global adoration. During the early ‘90s, Sleep along with Kyuss made it okay to worship Black Sabbath and helped to spearhead the stoner metal music scene. They even convinced Earache Records founder Digby Pearson to give their Black Sabbath laden music (via a demo tape) a chance and eventually put out Holy Mountain which has been referred to as “the greatest album Black Sabbath never wrote.”
Waxing poetic about Sleep is integral to understand why it is so important that the band responsible for High on Fire and Om, when they initially departed each other’s company back in 1998 and posthumously released the revered Dopesmoker in 2003, (a single track proper version of the previously released Jerusalem) is releasing new music for the first time in 15 years. The Sciences’ title track pays it back with “feedback” of their own; before launching themselves headlong into the flurry of riffs that this album will soon be well known for.
Some of these songs have been played live by the band before and are not exactly new, but when you hear studio versions of ‘Sonic Titan’ and ‘Antarticans Thawed’ you would swear they flow on this album like they belonged there the entire time. Both of the tracks are stoner doom dirges with slow and chunky riff work courtesy of Matt Pike, Al Cisneros’ vocals located between them and the inclusion of Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder.
It has long been intimated by fans that this is the sonic evolution of Black Sabbath and maybe even that Sleep are just the very same band several decades later. Sleep have seemingly acknowledged the parallels by paying homage to their progenitor’s bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler on “Giza Butler,” the last song containing lyrics on the whole album. As you might imagine, Cisneros’ bass is a major focus here. The song feels like a more fleshed out version of Sabbath’s “Bassically,” which is a part of the same movement that Sleep got their name from. The second half of the song is just so powerful and the bass riffs leading to the finale are that much more spectacular.
The Sciences is the album fans have waited a long time for and does not disappoint. It has all the elements that made the band’s prior work so iconic and helped to launch a million reefer and riff soaked bands. Sleep made this style of music popular again and in their nearly 30 years of existence few would argue against that fact. This is the album no one knew existed, no one knew they needed, yet everyone wanted in 2018. Don’t miss out on a return that surely isn’t going to go away any time soon.
(released April 20, 2018 on Third Man Records)