Sleep – The Sciences
2018 Third Man Records Records
Sleep is a band that originated over 30 years ago, but one I just got into fairly recently. Not that I hadn’t heard of them, but stoner rock had never really been my thing. I started posting my vinyl collection on Instagram (yes, I’m one of THOSE people) in 2017 and kept seeing Sleep records over and over. Eventually I got the bug to give them a shot. Ironically, that bug bit around 4/20 of 2018, when they dropped their first brand new full length album in nearly 20 years. The thing about this album, The Sciences was that, it was a secret. No promotion, no nothing. The band had hinted they were finishing a new album, but that’s it. It showed up on iTunes on 4/20 and at record stores the same day. I bought a physical copy because the first pressing had 2 limited editions, which to be honest tend to go up in value, so I bought it thinking that if I didn’t like it, I could hang on to it and maybe trade it for stuff I did like later. I was not prepared for how much I got into it though.
Sleep formed in the early 90’s from the ashes of some members’ previous bands, and quickly released an album of songs that were reworked from those previous bands. Their next album Sleep’s Holy Mountain was actually a demo sent to Earache records. Earache liked it so much they released the demo as an album. Holy Mountain was extremely Black Sabbath-esque. But in 1992, nobody was doing that. They gained quite a bit of recognition very quickly in the underground metal scene, and signed a substantial record deal with London records. The band worked on the follow up for 4 years. They immersed themselves in the stoner culture more than ever before. What they delivered as a finished product was unprecedented. Known by two names, both Jerusalem and the more common Dopesmoker. Dopesmoker is ONE SONG that clocks in at just over 63 minutes long. Yes, a ONE HOUR LONG SONG. When they handed it in to the record label, the label understandably said….no, and refused to release it. Legal battles ensued, and versions of the album came out eventually, but the whole debacle made the band split up. If I’m being honest, I enjoy Holy Mountain but Dopesmoker….I can’t get into. It’s slow, and plodding, but I feel like an hour of that for a single song….it’s too much, even in an altered state. There are people that love it, but for me I haven’t got there yet.