Skip to content

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum Of Natural History Review Essay

First of all...what�s with all the Metal talk about this album? Yes, there are some Metal moments, but not enought for be taken as an Avant garde metal band... well, at least I don�t think so.

Well, but let�s get down to busines, this album is NOT for everyone. If you are a fan of beauty in music, stay as far away from this as you can. If you are openen minded...well, come right in. There is just so much in this album, to go into detail would take a whole book or so, so I�ll try to keep it simple. Well...the music... is like...mmm well, Avant garde with rabies would be a good discription, and yet I am no where near of what Sleepytime Gorilla Museum really is, this is very original music, that�s for sure. The songs sometimes aren�t really songs, but collages of sounds, rythm paterns and maybe a voice speaking, or singing in a narrative way... and other times a track is just full of complexity, melodys, soft and growling vocals, violent drumming and percussion, homemade instruments, Bj�k like singing and violin solos... and you know what? They get away with it...and man do they get away with it! You can sence that all musicians are real artist, not just people playing their instruments...this is art. Actually, I think the best discription of STGM would be...Ga Ga music! So, yes, this is serious stuff... yet at times it all seems like a big joke, specially when it comes to some of the contend of the songs, which are pretty metaphoric, or alegoric should I say? A good example of this is the track "The Creature" (one of my favorites) where you have a voice telling you the story of a creature that takes advantage from a village, eating all of their food and sucking the life out of the people in exchange for protection of something...that of course never comes. Let me tell you that the lyrics here are as grotesque and down right disgusting as they come (" They learned to dinne on fecal matter, so that the creature would grow fatter")... and yet, they are brilliant. The whole album is just like that, brilliant. From time to time you forget you are listening to an album, and think this is some kind of bizarre play or creazy dream... or nightmare.

As I said before, there are homemade instruments in this album, so you get to hear some really interesting sounds that you might have never heard before... actually, I dont think you have ever heard something like Sleepytime before for that matter.

The stand out songs here are the opener "A Hymn to the Morning Star", with Nils Frykdah welcoming you to this ...thing! in a very teatrical voice, "The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion" a brutal song that goes into your brain like a chainsaw, "Phthisis" with Carla Kihlstedt singing very similar to Bj�rk, "FC: The Freedom Club", this might be the best representative of the whole album, a great song, and "The Creature", which I have already named and discrived before.

This is not some album, this is...this is something else. Excellent, but not for eveyone, yet I can�t not give this album anything but 5 stars, as this is not just outstandingly original, but succesfully good thrue out it too, a winning combination if you ask me.

A word of advice...I would not listen to this at night and alone... yet, in a sence, this might be the best way to listen to it...hmmm... might want to try it

The final studio album from the Oakland, California art-metal eccentrics was another winner, albeit not for every taste. There's very little middle ground here: the music can be loud and abrasive, or (less often) subtle and melodic, but is always pitched to the ragged edge of sanity.

Don't be lulled into false security by the slow opening verses of "The Companions", kicking off the album like an ominous invocation more than a genuine song. It may sound more subdued than usual for this band, but it's the uneasy calm of a boa constrictor that just swallowed a live pig and is looking for its next meal.

The album is certainly extreme, and yet at the same time incredibly eclectic, with a strange theatrical flair making it resemble the original cast soundtrack to an off-Broadway musical about zombie death cults, as scored by Gentle Giant. Old-school progheads are hereby put on alert: don't expect any concessions from a group using arcane instruments identified as Sledgehammer Dulcimer, Electric Pancreas, and the always inscrutable Thing.

The song titles tell their own explicit story: "Helpless Corpse Enactment", "Putrid Refrain", "Ossuary" et al. But there's an unexpected air of refinement behind all the thrash-dada intensity, with lyrics borrowed from the writings of James Joyce and poet Wallace Stevens. The awesome guttural aggression of singer Nils Frykdahl was likewise diluted by the occasional lead vocal by Carla Kihlstedt, although Frykdahl proves (in "The Companions" again) that he can do much more with his voice besides growl like a starving cannibal.

It's too bad the group couldn't stay together long enough for an encore. But maybe three full albums of hardcore progging was enough; any more would have risked complacency, something musicians and fans should always be on guard against. SGM set a good example by quitting while ahead: how many other bands listed on this site do you wish had done the same?