It's no easy task to create an own sound, because a lot has been done in the last sixty years. But despite all of this, there are a couple of bands who manage to rise above the mass, whether by great songs or by an interesting blend of styles. With their new album 'The Fall Of Altrusia', Wisconsin's SLEESTAK undoubtedly fall into the latter category. They have been inspired by a lof of different musical styles, ranging from crust to psychedelic rock to doom metal and krautrock. And even that description is only a destitute attempt to describe the sonic complexity of this colossus. However, one thing is certain: SLEESTAK are damn good at combining all of their influences to a seamless unit.
'The Fall Of Altrusia' is a concept album, which is divided into seven chapters/songs.Of course, this is a journey of epic proportions but there is never a boring moment. Sculpting sound with emotional fervor, SLEESTAK paint sonic landscapes with aural brushes. They have an uncanny ability to create a desolate, creepy, and trance-inducing atmosphere among the monsterous riffs and ambient uses of sound, while the music blends seamlessly from brutally heavy to serenely calm and back again. And when I say heavy, I mean the kind of heaviness that absolutely crushes everything. But not only in this area SLEESTAK cut a good figure. With 'Exiled From The City', they give an impressive demonstration of their capacity to produce smoother psychedelic driven songs, which arrest my attention, too. What I particularly like in this track is the 1960's sounding organ while the guitar reminds me a bit of mid-1970's Pink Floyd. At these moments there are no vocals, which is an advantage. This does not mean that I don't like the brutal vocal style of guitarist Matt Schmitz, but his vocals are more appropriate to the dystopian moments of this album when SLEESTAK conjure end-of-the-world scenarios (and again they are extremely good at doing this).
What also becomes immediately apparent is the flow of 'The Fall Of Altrusia'. Without a track indicator (like on your CD player), or if you aren't paying careful attention, it is very easy to get lost in the midst of this CD. You might not be able to tell what song or track you are on, but in this case it is not meant as negative criticism but, rather, as a clear sign that SLEESTAK have been successful in turning their epic visions into reality. You almost need to be "in a state of mind" to appreciate the beauty here. It is not to be heard, but listened to and experienced. I also think the album is best heard from start to finish without interruption. It allows the listener to really lose themselves in the massive sound. All in all, it appears to me that SLEESTAK is powered by a strong creative force. They have created an authentic and organic album which doesn't fit in any drawer. For me 'The Fall Of Altrusia' is one of the positive surprises of 2011. Highly recommended to open-minded fans of heavy music.