Sometimes, fate conspires against me. I planned this evening to settle in with a book and a few progressive death metal albums. I had Pestilence – Spheres, Atheist – Piece of Time and Cynic – Focus all queued up, the three best and strangest of the originators of properly progessive death metal. But then, lo and behold, I spy on the interwebs that Sleep have released a new song called ‘The Clarity’. So all plans are put on hold until this mighty news and music has been fully disgested.
‘The Clarity’, first off an ironic title given the level of fuzz and mind warping that Sleep tracks have been known to include in the past, is probably the band’s clearest statement of intent. Twenty years after their last original material was written, to say that the wait for new Sleep material was endless is an understatement. Thank fuck we had High on Fire and Om to sate us in the meantime. ‘The Clarity’ strips out most but not all of the fuzz that layers upon Matt Pike’s hypnotising riffs. Al Cisneros intones his lyrics languidly, inducing that stoner haze that Sleep do so well. The transcendant, soaring solo that appears about 5:25 is one of 2014’s purest moments of musical joy. It’s kaleidoscopic, triumphant and mesmerising.
Hopefully this leads into a new Sleep album sooner rather than later, but we would be fools to expect. We should only hope, with the rumbling bass of ‘The Clarity’ as our spirit guide, that something resembling a full length will emerge from the haze some day. If not, then this at least is a welcome sight. All hail the leaf, and all hail Sleep.