Sleep’s The Sciences, the bands first studio album since the 2003 masterpiece Dopesmoker, starts off with a healthy dose of feedback, distortion, and tuning, not unlike the sounds one might expect from a long dormant machine lumbering back to life.
Once their systems are primed and ready for ignition, a bong rip signals the intro to the albums first proper track, “Marijuanauts Theme”. This is the shortest song on the album with vocals, and it wastes absolutely none of its 6:40 run time. It picks up right where Sleep left off over a decade ago, and much like the rest of the album, is a master class in both groove and melody. The tempo of this song is noticeably faster than the rest of the album, but in no way feels out of place. This leads right into the absolutely crushing, and aptly named “Sonic Titan”. The band allows their talents to shine on this track. Al Cisneros roars the lyrics over some of the heaviest riffs to ever emerge from their hazy fingers and minds. This song also shines a light on the time that both Al and Matt spent away from Sleep, honing their skills with their other respective bands, Om and High On Fire.
The addition of Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder to the fold is on display front and center on the albums middle, and longest track, “Antarcticans Thawed”. This is a monolithic track that carves the listeners mind, much like a glacier carves the landscape before it, slow and unstoppable. Now we arrive at the fifth song on the album, the absolutely extraordinary, “Giza Butler”. No song in the Sleep catalogue showcases their individual talents, or collective ones for that matter, better than this track. Matt Pike’s fingers dance over his guitar and produce some of the best and most headbanging riffs he has ever committed to tape. Al Cisneros creates a world for the listener to transport themselves to with his esoteric lyrics and fuzzy and prominent bass playing, while Jason ties everything together with some of the best drum work of his long and storied career. This is, in my opinion, the best song Sleep has ever written and is a high water mark for the genre as a whole. Album closer, “The Botanist” lulls the listener back to reality with its astounding melody and surprisingly bright sound.
This is an album full of stoner anthems for both new and old fans of the band. It has Holy Mountain quality riffs, Dopesmoker-esque production, and is as perfect an album as anyone could have expected from a band that’s been on hiatus for a decade and a half. Sleep has officially awakened.
Release Date: April 20, 2018
Label: Third Man
Favorite Tracks: “Giza Butler” and “The Botanist”