Sleestak, Library of Skulls – a clear reference to the mythical creatures from the seventies show Land Of The Lost and possibly a particularly virulent State side strain of weed, the lush tones of ‘Skylon Express’ conjures a mind altering, drug hazed blend of psychedelic doom fused rock that grabs you from the opening chords. This release is a heady cocktail of space rock that recalls the acid fried sounds of classic Monster Magnet colliding with the doom laden crunch of the original era Black Sabbath in a free flowing retro jam.
On ‘Skylon Express’ the band comes across as a self assured bunch of musicians cutting loose, churning out lengthy instrumental heavy passages that feature indulgent Wah solos and great slabs of driving groove rock topped off with breathy 3am bong laced spoken vocals interchanged with bellowing heavy singing that on first listen mask how melodic the whole thing is.
Some of the tracks jar slightly with each other as the progressive later stylings clash with the raw hunger of the bands earlier leanings but whether the band are loping along like the eponymous creatures or breaking out into a head down driving riff it is always delivered with conviction and panche.
A perfect example of this is the lead driven ‘Angela’ where the entire song is propelled along on the guitar pyrotechnics of Brian Gesser and Matt Schmitz, a gutsy move but perfectly executed and a great, great tune. Elsewhere ‘Library Of Skulls’ ‘Sleestak Wardance’ provide the muscular doom that will see men with large beards nodding their heads like a dog known for advertising insurance on a particularly bumpy road. The combination is a rewarding insight into a band who clearly have the chops to take their art much further, yet are clearly having fun into the bargain.
At times it can be a blessing and a curse to be labelled a jam band with the digital download, on demand, here today gone tomorrow attention spans of the often fickle music loving public, but the list of influences cited by Sleestak (Sleep, Floyd, Sabbath, Neurosis, Electric Wizard, Cathedral, Clutch) should be enough to tell you that at times you have to indulge them and bare with them for that moment of pay off.
Completed over the years 2004 – 2007 these tracks were originally intended as two Eps ‘Library Of Skulls’ and ‘Skylon Express but were never formally released due to the age old curse of budget restraints. Combined here for the first time sees the band interspersing the two side by side as opposed to chronologically which serves to highlights the band’s evolution from (reasonably) straight forward doom/stoner to the almost Pink Floyd-esque psychedelica. This will become even more apparent on this year’s other Sleestak release, the brand new 45 minute epic ‘The Fall Of Altrusia’. At times here the momentum can dip over the course of the lengthy jam passages, but overall the vibe and quality of the musicianship carries this release far beyond the sum of its parts, which are like some of the finest pieces of lost seventies space rock you have ever heard.
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden