Sleep’s Holy Shit!

You seriously have to appreciate any day that begins with the unexpected, the improbable, the unbelievable.  For fans of All Things Heavy, that just happened this morning.  4/20/2018 will go down in Stoner/Doom history.  After getting hit and pummeled in popular media and culture, The Sciences are back, baby.  And The Sciences have some heavy truth to relay to you, some inconvenient truth, some nothing but the truth.

And that truth is: this album is fricking incredible!

None of us have had very much time to process what just happened.  Apparently, iTunes in Australia accidentally revealed that the legendary Sleep was dropping a new album.  I didn’t find out until about 2 hours ago, and in this age of instant gratification I immediately found the album on Tidal.  So, this is some new shit.   Seriously, the first words that went through my mind were “holy shit, Sleep has a new album.”  The rest kinda happened naturally: an oblique and clever reference to the second album, Sleep’s Holy Mountain.  My apologies for actually explaining my pun, but it’s my blog so I get to do what I want.

I’ve only listened to the album once in its entirety, so this is a first reaction.  Which means, it may contain more than my usual amount of hyperbole.  In trying to keep it as objective as possible, I have a few of observations to make:

  1. This really is Sleep. You know how some bands reform, put out a reunion album, and it totally sucks?  Like the last eight Metallica albums have sucked?   Anyway, this is everything a fan of the band could hope for:  Heavy, psychedelic, totally worshiping the riff. It doesn’t sound like High on Fire or Om.  It’s Sleep, and that alone is amazing. More mature, somewhat restrained and actually disciplined, it’s still unmistakably Sleep. Accept no substitutes…
  2. This is, by far, the best recorded Sleep album.   What makes the recording so damn good is not that it sounds studio perfect, homogenized, ready for commercial consumption good.  Instead, the production captures Matt Pike’s to tube-alicious overdrive as if the amplifier were in the room with you.  Al’s bass is solid, clear, and absolutely audible.  Oh, and you can actually hear his vocals as well.  The drums are perfectly rendered, with no smearing of the cymbals.  I have no idea what the compression level is, but this kind of music needs the judicious use of compression or it just becomes a sonic mess.  I’m not too worried about it…
  3. All of the songs are Sleep-worthy. There isn’t a throwaway track on the album.  The one criticism I have is that they might be a bit too short.  By the time each song ramps up to its climax, it ends all too abruptly and I find myself longing for the “riff that never ends.”  But the next song makes up for the brevity, and I’m back to enjoying the most unexpectedly awesome album I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Okay, that’s all I have time for today.  Seriously, I never expected to be listening to a Sleep album this morning.  But I had to write about it.  It’s one of those experiences that happens once in a person’s lifetime.  Especially on 4/20.  In hindsight, we should have expected and known all along…

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