Let’s start with the little information gleaned from online research. Godsleep are a four piece outfit from Athens, Greece, formed in 2010 and features Kostas on vocals, Johnny – guitar, Fed – bass, and Dennis – drums. They have been largely playing all over their native country with their career highlight so far playing the Freak Valley Festival in 2012. As for their recording history they released a 4- track promo in 2010 and were featured on a compilation by 272 records. So, ”Thousand Sons of Sleep” is their self-released debut album produced by both the band themselves and George Leodis.
Now the band’s history has been taken care of let’s report on how they sound. Godsleep produce a mix of stoner and sludge with a touch of retro hard rock into the equation. But before any cries of ”not another stoner/sludge band!” can be groaned, Godsleep are complex, intense and intriguing and have transported this well onto their long player. They understand the subtleties and nuances of Down and Sleep, and both bands are the obvious influences, with some Led Zeppelin thrown in.
To prove they are not just a riff ‘n’ roar band the seven minutes opener – ‘The Call’ – begins with a slow bass melody, complex drum rhythms and intricate guitar playing before they explode into a dense rocking rage. And yes, they do rock, but it’s controlled, fraught with tension, as Kostas vocals rasp and strain with emotional anguish. On ‘This is Mine’, a four minute stoner rock groover, he tries to convince himself ”someday, somehow I be back on my feet again”. On the rest of the album the arrangements of the songs go well beyond the constraints of the four-minute verse, chorus structures. ‘Thirteen’, and ‘The Wrong Turn’ are 8 and 9 minutes respectively and use riffs to propel them into different tempo changes so the songs never feel too long.
What makes Godsleep stand out is even when they quieten down the distorted rage, as in ‘Feel Like Home’, the emotions still burn as Kostas swoons with unbearable painful regret ”Why do you let me go?” and Johnny compliments the high fervour with soulful guitar soloing. They expand on this with the 8 minutes ‘Home’, which brings to mind Led Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’ between bursts of a heavy, sludgy chorus. But the highlight is ‘I Want You’, a big slowed down riff and Kostas yearning with all consuming desire – ”I feel so close to you”. My advice is if you are the object of his passions then runaway.
What is refreshing is Godsleep are not afraid to change tempo, give the songs breathing space, and at times, just hang on one note, to build tension before unleashing the power. In other words, this takes a lot of self-assured confidence and showcases a band totally in control of what they want to achieve and how to deliver it, which makes this an impressive debut. Okay, so this may be an acquired taste to some and heavy going in places, but if you enjoy slow, intense, grinding stoner/sludge, with moments of atmospheric intricate playing then take time to give them a listen. If there is any justice then ”Thousand Sons of Sleep” should, at the very least, broaden their appeal and opportunity to play beyond their homeland.