It’s April 20, a day on which many people continue doing the thing they already do pretty much every day anyway, and many other people make a quick detour to enjoy a thing they only occasionally do, and the internet at large rejoices in a flood of viral content and “cool cop” tweets and none of that fucking matters because Sleep just released a new album.
Sleep are one of the progenitors of stoner metal, a title they take remarkably seriously. Their last album, Dopesmoker, was originally refused release by their label in 1999, and you can sort of see why: It consists of a single hour-long odyssey of Triassic riffs and molten-lava guitar solos and lyrics intoned with prayer-like solemnity about “weed-priests” and “smoke covenants” and ritualistic bong preparations. They released it in six-part broken-up form as Jerusalem that year before finally giving it the full, single-track treatment in 2003, at which point it immediately ascended into eternity as the ultimate doom-metal tribute to getting fucking blasted out of your gourd while playing fighting games on mute for an entire afternoon.
And now they’re back with The Sciences, a six-track leviathan that picks up exactly where they left off, and which will surely lead to a country-wide wave of no-call-no-shows, a surge of interest in late-night 3D Rampage screenings, and [insert joke about pizzas]. It is very, very good, from the queasy, bong-ripping “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” which proves the band’s penchant for stoner-fantasy remains intact, to “Antarcticans Thawed,” the apocalyptic high-point of a trio of 10-minute-plus workouts, which moves at an appropriately glacial pace before melting entirely into a squall of fried-brain guitar solos.
In the grand scheme of 420-related surprises, it’s hard to imagine something equaling Sleep coming out of retirement with a new album. It’s like waking up on Christmas morning to find out that Santa Claus is real, and he appreciated the cookies that you, specifically, left for him as a child. Elsewhere, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong released a surprise debut album from his new band The Longshot (it’s decent, scrappy pop-punk), J. Cole released a new set of J. Cole tracks (he’s concerned with, like, social media now?), weed-rap mainstay Curren$y released a quick, characteristically likable EP, and Wiz Khalifa, barely even trying, fired off something called “420 Freestyle.”
Great effort, all of you. You have been obliterated by Sleep.