Sabians Beauty For Ashes

Featuring ex-members of the legendary Sleep, who wouldn't expect the Sabians to be another down-tuned sludgefest of epic proportions? Or maybe a more rock-based High On Fire? Produced by Fudge Tunnel/Nailbomb conspirator Alex Newport, Beauty For Ashes more closely resembles the Meat Puppets' failed attempt at a gold-selling follow-up to 1994's Too High To Die (boosted by Nirvana's covering the Kirkwood brothers' tunes on Cobain's swansong MTV Unplugged). After recording Sleep's primitive 1991 debut Volume One, guitarist Justin Marler entered a monastery for the next decade, upon returning he picked up former Sleep drummer Chris Hakius and started jamming. Some of the tracks slip into exciting grooves of melodic doom ("Restoration," "Beauty For Ashes"), though others flirt too heavily with the band's self-professed marriage of punk, folk and chant ("Via Dolorosa," "Breathe"). "Downcast" and "Bleed" even waltz into vintage R.E.M. territory then lapse into more metallic choruses and bridges. The closer "Lull" is a semi-gentle acoustic ballad that fades into over ten minutes of ambient rainfall, quite apropos, as Beauty For Ashes comes up rather waterlogged in the aggression department. (Music Cartel)