Monday, 20 January 2014

SLEEP - 1990 - 2018 THE STORY CONTINUES



This post was originally done in 2013 There has been a lot gone on in the world of Sleep since then so I have completely re-edited the original text and updated old links with better quality ones and added some new ones. this supercedes previous posts and is to all intents and purposes a new post. Read on..

A band like Sleep should need no introduction especially with their recent touring and mighty remastered version of "Dopesmoker" last year. If you didn't know here's a quick history Sleep started off as brutal sludgy crust band Asbestosdeath who released 2 x 7" singles they then evolved into Sleep, doing their debut album "Volume One"  in 1991 which was not a million miles away from what they had done in Asbestosdeath (3 of the 4 tracks  from the Asbestosdeath 7"' appear on Sleep's debut) they then recorded a second album of all new material which they shopped around labels for a release, a tape of it found it's way to Earache records with this letter....


Earache saw the potential and signed them. The subsequent "Holy Mountain" album was a radical departure from "Volume One" and pretty much invented the "Stoner Rock" genre. After the success of this album Sleep decided to sign with major label London records and for their London Records debut to record the now legendary 1 hour plus epic that was proposed 3rd album "Dopesmoker"!  Exec's from major labels aren't known for their open mindedness and immediately balked at being presented with a concept album of 1 track an hour long, the main theme being weed smoking (unlike today this was not the most acceptable or commonplace activity in 1995!) The band and label butted heads severely, the band refusing to change or alter the album and the label refusing to release it! They were subsequently dropped, the master tapes were shelved, causing the band to fracture and it wasn't until 1999 long after Sleep broke up that "Dopesmoker" was released albeit broken up into 6 parts and re-titled as "Jerusalem" then in 2003 it was reissued in it's original 1 track format as a rough mix "Dopesmoker" with a bonus track "Sonic Titan (Live)" Then in 2012 the masters were handed over to Brad Boatright of Audiosiege for a proper remastering and released on Southern Lord, this time with "Holy Mountain" Live from 1994 as a bonus track for me that is the definitive version. So that's a brief history of Sleep here's a more in depth look at the albums I've posted....

Asbestosdeath - 7"'s "Dejection" & "Unclean" these were released by Profane Existence and the other by the band themselves in 1990 and are 4 tracks of slow, crawling sludgy stuff reminiscent of Dystopia but if you listen carefully you can hear that trademark classic Matt Pike riffing in there underneath the sludge! and as I said before 3 of the 4 tracks were re-recorded for the Sleep debut album "Volume One" These 2 x 7"'s were collected together on one CD by Southern lord this file is taken from my CD 320kbps.

Sleep Volume One - Debut album from Sleep and released on what was then the European home of all things Grunge & Seattle in the early 90's Tupelo recordings (also responsible for releasing the first editions of Nirvana's "Bleach" in Europe) Not exactly a good fit, however this album whilst the stoner edge can be felt is still not a million miles away from what these guys had been doing in Asbestosdeath this is slow heavy sludgy metal that is also to my ears heavily influenced by early Melvins, in fact the main reason I bought this album is because when I listened to it it just screamed "Gluey Porch Treatments" at me. Remember these guys pretty much invented stoner rock so at this time in 1991 there was nothing to compare this to and it certainly wouldn't fall into the stoner genre had it been invented then!! Like i say this is slow heavy punishing stuff and whilst the vocals aren't quite as anguished as Asbestosdeath this is still some pretty tortured music and vocals.It's a killer heavy album and there's nothing else (outside of Melvins early work) Ripped from my CD at 320kbps

Sleep Volume Two, This,now ultra rare 7" EP was released on Eric Keller (of legendary Swiss grinders Fear Of God) label Off The Disk in 1992 and is probably the holy grail of Sleep collectables as it was probably limited to copies in the hundreds maybe 1000 copies at a push This 7" features their version of Sabbath's "Lord Of This World" (made to sound live but isn't!!) backed with excellent early demo versions of "Nain's Baptism" & "The Druid"! High Quality FLAC vinyl rip converted to MP3 320KBPS

Sleep's Holy Mountain I first heard Sleep in 1992 on the Earache records cassette comp "Naive".This was a showcase for all the non-grind/death metal bands that had releases out or coming out on Earache and featured bands like Clutch, Fudge Tunnel, Scorn, Pitch Shifter and of course Sleep. I was already aware of a few of the bands but when iI got to the Sleep track "Dragonaut" (Subsequently the opening track on "Holy Mountain") I was utterly floored. This was PURE Sabbath worship given a 90's twist and made even heavier!!! (Ozzy Osbourne himself is quoted as saying when he heard Sleep out of all the bands that are influenced by Sabbath, Sleep were the closest in sound and feel) I had been a fan of Early Sabbath for a while then and had exhausted those first 6 Sab's albums, so this came along at a perfect time for me! Though there is no denying the Sabbath influence Sleep have the sound and feel as Ozzy says but they are not straight off ripping Sabbath off for a start this is way heavier in sound and production and riffs like the Monster intro to track 2 "The Druid" are so utterly fucking amazing it just makes me go arrrgggggghhhhhh! everytime! This predates the legion of Sabbath pilfering and weak stoner rock that's around these days by almost a decade. Like I say this album practically invented the style there was NO ONE else doing this type of music in 1992 and there has been no one yet from the stoner genre that has recorded ANYTHING in the same league as this album it's an utter masterpiece! (320kbps Reissue version with "Snowblind" from the Earache "Masters of Misery" Sabbath tribute as a bonus track)

Dopesmoker - I've already gave you the history of this album and about how it never saw release till 1999 (in altered form) years after the band broke up after originally recording it in 1993.However is this the absolute pinnacle of a short lived career by the band who invented stoner rock? Hmm it's a good album no mistake and there's immense fucking walls of riffage by the dumper truck load, But I think it may have been a little ambitious, because I don't think there's enough to it to keep me completely involved for a whole hour. The main riff to the song is a theme throughout and mighty a riff as it might be.... I mean don't get me wrong, when I play this album some parts just make me go whoaaahhh FUCK yeah! And because it's 1 song it's good that when you listen to it certain parts blow you away and it keeps repeat listens interesting, but I have to say the majority of this album kinda washes over me until aforementioned parts just grab me! I'll leave you to make up your own mind on this album and say no more except here is the Brad Boatright remastered 2012 version with "Dopesmoker" and "Holy Mountain (Live 1994) and as a bonus I've also tacked on "Sonic Titan (Live)" from the 2003 version! All ripped from my own CD's at 320KBPS


2012 Dopesmoker reissue art by Arik Roper


I recently discovered, and, being a huge Sleep fan I kicked myself repeatedly, that both a double CD and cassette were released of their reunion show at the famous All Tomorrow's Parties festival in May 2009. Since it has been out for over 4 years (11 years now!) and I only just found out about it last week is an utter tragedy. Becasue 1: I will now have no chance of ever owning one and 2: It's a double CD/Cass of live Sleep!!! So the CD appears to be a bootleg and the cassette is an official release, which of the two these files are sourced from I don't know, I found it on the internet the bitrate is high but the quality is not the most sparkling. It sounds somewhere between an audience recording and a soundboard recording not terrible quality but not amazing either. However the quality of the music is another matter this is an epic 95 minute Sleep set. Now having only got this downloaded yesterday I have listened to it but not intensely, as well as a wealth of material culled from their "Holy Mountain" album there are some NEW Sleep songs on here along with epic length versions of the "Holy Mountain" material (a 14 min through "From Beyond" HELL yeah) this means you should have been reaching for the download link at the point where the words "New Sleep Songs" were mentioned. Don't let my quality control alarms put you off, this is a great live set from one of the greatest bands around not a terrible bootleg for diehards only. This is well worth an hour and a half of your time for even a casual fan, do not doubt it! 

Secondly, at the same time as I discovered the above live CD I also discovered there had been a semi-official live 12" from a 2010 show in Denver Colorado. For the sake of completion I thought I'd try and get a download to add to this post. When I was looking for a copy of the 12" online I happened upon a nice little blog by the name of "That's The Thing About That" (Check it out HERE).The kind soul behind that blog had the full set from the show posted up in glorious 320kbps! Now I have downloaded this myself literally minutes ago and I am just having a quick listen the sound is heavier than than the Reunion show recording, but the quality is about the same, not amazing but again far from unlistenable. The set is almost identical and I might have considered not posting this because of that, but as well as the usual glut of material from "Holy Mountain" and the same new songs, this set is worth your having because clocking in at a massive 2 hrs long it also contains an opener of a near 10 Minute run through the intro to "Dopesmoker" which segues nicely into "Holy Mountain". There's another 8 minute run through a second part of "Dopesmoker" later in the set and a super heavy Sleep style run through Ozzy Ozbourne's "Over The Mountain" from his "Diary Of A Madman" album! All in all the fact that I went looking for the 3 track live 12" and found the complete set from the Denver show makes it worth the inclusion! So there you go no less than 2 amazing Sleep Live sets for you.(The link to this is not mine but I have just checked it whilst editing this post today (Apr 2020) and the link is valid and works should that change i will upload it myself)

The story does not end there of course ....in 2014 it had been some 20 years since riff titans Sleep had been anywhere near a studio. I was excited as anyone when I heard they were to release a new single through the Adult Swim Program (check that out HERE ) and lo and behold we received the first new recording from the revitalized Sleep."The Clarity".So is it any good?  Well yeah of course it is good, but to be honest I don't know if my expectations were too high or what, but, to me whilst a decent song and at near 10 mins in length there's plenty of it, to my ears, it sounds a bit too much like OM with guitar. Whilst this is not necessarily a bad thing as readers of this blog will know I am a fan of OM, we already have a ton of OM releases to listen to, with a new Sleep single I can't help but have expected a bit more than that. It's a titanic riff and there's a great solo, but all I hear as I said is OM! I have only listened to it a couple of times and I have really enjoyed it, but the reason I loved OM was because they were doing something different to what Chris and Al did in Sleep, from Sleep in 2014 I expected something more along the lines of the new songs they debuted on recent live releases. It is the first thing they have released and maybe the OM thing won't be so apparent with the album, as I'm sure there is to be one! Anyway I shall leave you to judge for yourself. Go check this out Sleep? back in 2014 FUCK man I couldn't be happier!

The above paragraph was edited from my original post on "The Clarity" now whilst I stand by the OM vibe I feel maybe, as I said, my expectations were maybe too high. So lets FFWD 4 years.
In 2018 some 26 years since the last Sleep album (not counting the multiple Reissues of "Dopesmoker") and with no warning, no hype, no intensive ad campaign, no pre-order bonanza on the 20th of April 2018 Sleep quietly released their first new album in 26 years! This was entirely brilliant, not just because of the date it was released (In the U.S. they put the month first in dates so the release date for this was 4/20/18 for the significance of the number 420 in cannabis culture then please go HERE to further your knowledge) Not only was the quiet release of this album controversial, the album itself seemed to polarise fans. I definitely think the lack of collector arousing pre-order packages, thus denying the collector fraternity their opportunity to outdo each other and everyone else by getting it first and "best" genuinely pissed a lot of people off, because of  this, and the surprise release I read several threads where people were complaining about the fact it was difficult to get this on vinyl, simply because demand had probably been underestimated, however that didn't stop the dickheads taking to the internet and bitching about being unable to get ALL the colours (who needs the same fucking album in 5 colours? ) but it was also because of this idiotic collector mentality that the availability was scarce, collectors buying multiple copies, as well as scalpers getting in on the act to flip em on ebay! Whilst this isn't Sleep's fault entirely surely the demand should have been predicted by anyone running a record label having any remote idea how the market, particularly with the kind of music Sleep play actually works these days! It wasn't just that though, once people got their hands on it and ears around it then the bitching really started "It's too short" "2 of the songs have been around for years" (Yes 2 tracks or 1/3 of the album have been staples of Sleep's live set during their various reformations for years but did anyone stop to think that these songs had maybe been in preparation for the next album they had intended before they originally broke up and this IS the next album!) "That intro is pointless" etc. etc. it continued Here's my take on the whole thing...



"The Sciences" - is a fantastic album, and for me it sounds like the next day of Sleep not some 26 years later,  herein lies pretty much every whiny little fuckers problem. It's not the next day, it's 26 years later. Whilst Sleep may have played a huge part in inventing the sound we know as Stoner/Doom, for 26 years bands have run riot with it, there are thousands and THOUSANDS of bands who play and have played this style and the problem is the template for the music is a small one. When this music was first around in the 80's and 90's there was a small handful of bands playing it and the influences were a very small platter indeed and the best thing about Sleep was they took that platter of influence and drowned it in SABBATH SAUCE! In 1992 NO ONE had made music this close to the classic Sabbath sound, and made it even heavier! The problem is, in 26 years every tiny little facet of the first 6 Sabbath albums has been plagiarised, every note, every cover, every lyric, has been done to death, it's an oversaturated scene and genre to the point now where it's almost mandatory to plagiarize Sabbath, and,  where doing anything original in stoner/doom is pretty much impossible.
So tell me this... How the FUCK were Sleep gonna accomplish the feat of redefining a genre/style that they pretty much invented with something new and groundbreaking after 26 years? They WERE the groundbreakers. How is that possible within a genre that has a strictly defined sound and under a monolithic wave of successive generations of bands who stole the sound Sleep themselves stole from Sabbath? If you truly like Sleep then you will love this album it does exactly what it should shows that the guys who invented this style are still one of the best at it! Here it's ripped from my CD at 320KBPS

So this brings us onto the last 2 bits of Sleep goodness Shortly after the album Sleep issued a 12"/Download of what I assume is an album outtake. "Leagues Beneath" clocking in at just shy of 17 minutes well I can see why they left it off the album due to the fact it probably woulda necessitated the compressing of the 6 album tracks to fit it all on 4 sides of vinyl, so I suppose that's fair enough and they did make it available for download however they coulda put it on the fucking CD right? But once again we have the usual pandering to the vinyl collectors with a fancy one sided limited 12" I'm not gonna start it fucks me off I'm leaving it at that! The track itself is an absolute towering beast of a riff and is easily as good as the other new material on the album and at it's length if you take it on a playlist with The "Sciences" brings the playing time up to 70 minutes! More than enough Sleep to keep you going for 26 more years??

Lastly we have "Live At Third Man Records" so I was surprised as anyone to find these guys signing with Jack White's label for all the new releases but I guess if you are in the vinyl target market then he is the man! This mammoth live album was released on multiple coloured  3 LP and 1 x 12" boxset yadda yadda yadda fuck it I'm gonna get onto a rant about vinyl AGAIN so I'll stop there.. Onto the music Recorded on December 12th 2018 in the Blue Room at the Third Man headquarters in Nashville to a live audience using a direct-to-acetate system and mixed and mastered in real-time.There you go so this epic set clocking in 8 mins shy of 2 hours I assume must have come with a download because I certainly have noticed any hiss or crackle of a vinyl rip and that's what you get here 11 tracks of Sleep live including a near 23 minute run through their masterwork "Dopesmoker" Playing all 5 of the tracks from "The Sciences" (excluding the intro) as well as both "The Clarity" & "Leagues Beneath" With only "Holy Mountain" and closing, unsurprisingly, with their biggest "hit" "Dragonaut" being a nod to the old days! It's a fantastic quality set everything is clear in the mix there's nothing overwhelming about it it's just a fairly decent document of Sleep live and superior in quality to all of the various bootlegs around!

That's it then folks This already huge post updated! There's not a lot more to say other than Sleep are the godfathers and about the best at this kind of music (Save of course Sabbath)

Current Sleep Line Up Date Unspecified I would say 2018 though

ASBESTOSDEATH EP'sMediafire

VOL 1Mediafire

VOL 2Mediafire

HOLY MOUNTAINMediafire

DOPESMOKERMediafire

REUNION AT ALL TOMORROWS PARTIES DISC 1Mediafire

REUNION AT ALL TOMORROWS PARTIES DISC 2Mediafire

LIVE DENVER 5/9/10HERE

THE SCIENCES -
Mediafire

THE CLARITYMediafire


LEAGUES BENEATH - Mediafire

LIVE AT THIRD MAN RECORDS - Mediafire



And as an extra DOPESMOKER bonus here's something I was shared from youtube....

Calvin Armstrong (cello), Brian Courage (bass), and Kelson Zbichorski (drums) from the Heavy Metal Ensemble of Lawrence University performed Sleep's Dopesmoker on June 2nd, 2012, in the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel.This is just fucking insane unfortunately it's an amateur recording and when the rhythm section kick in properly, great as they are, the cello gets kinda drowned out. but this is still amazing I don't blame you for not watching the full performance but EVERY Sleep fan should check out the first 5 mins...ON A FUCKING CELLO??*~%$$!!! Amazing!




16 comments:

  1. Thanks you, this is amazing. Going to see them in December. Smoking up a storm all the way from New Zealand

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    Replies
    1. No prob gaz glad you liked it, never had the luck to catch them live even tho i've been a fan from vol 1 right through to this day! they keep playing either times or places i can't get to! Hope they are good when you see them. Thanks for the comment Gaz,

      Cheers,

      Dave B.

      Delete
  2. This is great. Complete, chronological and high-quality. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. it is and you're welcome, thanks for commenting,

      Cheers,

      Dave B.

      Delete
  4. great blog! many gems here. thanx, Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Michelle Glad you are finding some things on here you like, Thanks for the comment,

      Cheers,

      Dave B.

      Delete
  5. Amazing work man.
    Cheers from Brazil.

    ReplyDelete
  6. As I am a noob to this glorious band, I'd like to extend my gratitude, as well as, appreciation for what you have assembled here within the blogosphere!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks you very much. God bless you

    ReplyDelete
  8. Muito obrigado. Saudações do Brasil.

    ReplyDelete
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