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Journey through the abysses of the human psyche - 70%

kluseba, April 24th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Third Man Records

It was quite a clever publicity stunt when American stoner metal trio Sleep released its first studio record in fifteen years on April 20th, a day known for celebrating cannabis culture. The outstanding cover artwork of an astronaut surrounded by cannabis flowers blends in perfectly. I don't smoke but I attended a stoner metal concert last Saturday and felt like giving The Sciences a try.

The Sciences offers what you would expect from a stoner metal release. Distorted, heavy and slow riffs dominate the songs, the drums mostly sound lethargic yet pounding and the bass guitar adds a distorted, gloomy and muddy vibe to the hypnotizing soundscapes. It's easy to lose yourself in these six songs with running times cracking the ten-, twelve- and even fourteen-minute marks which is exactly what this type of music stands for.

It's difficult to point out any specific songs since this album is best enjoyed from start to finish as it takes you on a meandering journey through the weird abysses of the human psyche for fifty-three numbing minutes. Most songs start with slow and plodding riffs before the rhythm section quickens up the pace slightly. Vocals usually kick in after a few minutes. The last third of most tracks features a distorted guitar solo. The tracks often end randomly without proper conclusion but still manage to sound fluid because they all have a quite similar approach. The noisy production suits the concept perfectly and the record sounds as if the listener were standing right next to the band in a small studio.

The tracks are mostly instrumental and only a few of them occasionally feature some low-register and almost spoken-word vocals that I would have expected to sound a little bit more emotional, hypnotizing and wailing. They are mostly inoffensive and at times even slightly distracting from the instrumental work. The vocals are this record's only downside since they really don't add anything to the music.

In the end, Sleep's The Sciences is a solid stoner metal record, no more, no less. It's a great record to dream yourself far away and become one with its gloomy, hypnotizing and plodding soundscapes. One could have expected a little bit more after a waiting time of fifteen years since the last studio record but The Sciences is much more like a special gift for a special day than anything else. In that regard, Sleep's The Sciences is enjoyable to listen to as it gives fans exactly what they could have expected. Paying thirty bucks and more for the very limited vinyl editions is however way too much, so go grab the CD version or purchase this release digitally.