As a band, Sleep transcends metal. In a genre known for having as many subgenres as electronic music, they appeal to fans on all ranges of the heavy music spectrum. They truly captured fans’ attention in 1993 with the album Holy Mountain, which arguably defined the genre of ‘Stoner Metal’ for the modern generation. The album was strangely reminiscent of other similar pioneering bands like Kyuss, Melvins, and of course Black Sabbath, but had a more visceral world-shaking effect on listeners, akin to standing on a mountain of dunes during a sandstorm, in the best way possible. Tracks like Dragonaut became instant hits for fans and were featured in films such a Gummo, garnering more widespread attention. 2003 saw the release of Dopesmoker, an hour plus long soundscape of psychedelic heaviness. Other than a very sparse one-off track and a few reunion shows, the members of Sleep went their separate ways and explored other directions. Al Cisneros formed Om, which explored psychedelia further and fused it with world music and Buddhist lyrics and imagery. Matt Pike went on to form High On Fire, a more traditional metal powerhouse that conjures the aura of bands like Motorhead, but with Pike’s more mind-bending, experimental guitar sounds and pedal usage.
Finally, in 2018, Sleep reunited to the studio for a new full-length album, cementing their status as riff lords and giving anxious fans all they were awaiting and more. Playing drums on the album is Jason Roeder of the legendary Oakland band Neurosis. The result of this meeting of the minds was The Sciences, an album that does not disappoint in any way. Released by Jack White’s Third Man Records, fans were not sure what to expect and feared a softer, overly polished sound. They were wrong. The attack isn’t immediate, as the opening title-track is three minutes of layered amp noise and feedback in an appropriate beginning to what follows, a church organ at the end and volume swell cutting sharply to the sound of a bong being hit before the first crash of Marijuanaut’s Theme, which quickly establishes the thickness of tone, distinct patterning and melodic delivery in Cisneros‘ vocals that will remain consistent throughout The Sciences and tie its songs together despite variations in theme and tempo. Pike’s filthy and lava-like guitar riffs complement this perfectly, presenting an album perfect for both getting hyped or decompressing, depending on the track. The album is a collection of soundscapes, and Sleep are the best possible guides through this world.