The stoner doom band from San Jose by the name of Sleep stopped by House of Vans for a free show for a capacity crowd of crazy kids and metal enthusiasts alike, all drunk on free beer and sweaty adrenaline. This is a band that all but defined the doom metal scene of the age known as the 1990’s but ended their reign over the sludge metal sound ended before the finale of that decade. It was only a few years ago in 2010 that they reunited for battle again at All Tomorrow’s Parties to the deafening cheers of hard rockers everywhere, even though their live dates have been sporadic since then. Now, founding members Al Cisneros (bass/vocals) and Matt Pike (guitars) are roaring full time with the fresh addition of Jason Roeder of experimental metal band Neurosis on drums.
Opening the show was the ever-original sound of the instrumental trio Battles, whose experimental transmissions can be described as diverse to say the least. Drummer John Stanier spent the 90’s doing those earth-shattering rim shots in the NYC alt-metal band Helmet, guitarist/ bassist Dave Konopka was in the Boston-based cerebral math rock band Lynx, and guitarist and keyboardist Ian Williams was formerly of the more jazz-oriented Pittsburgh outfits Don Caballero and Storm & Stress. The resulting mix is expectedly very unique, sounding bouncy and energetic, almost danceable and electronic without being either, but, most of all, artsy and minimalist. From hyper-speed to mid-tempo, their material always seems to expound some deeply confounding rhythm changes, contains a momentum that sounds as if it would detonate if you stopped it, and swelling climaxes that pay off sweeter than ice cream cones.
When Sleep came on to a stage of Orange amps staked as high as the eye could see, it felt as though the air had been sucked out of the massive expansive of the warehouse turned skate park, replaced by wafting weed smells and sweaty excitement. Their sound could be easily called a throwback to the early metal days of Black Sabbath and Dio, but goes way further than ever dared in the 1970’s. They play songs that seem to last for a hours, they take solos that stretch out for eons, and often sing in some wickedly evil chanting fashion. I think there may have been some of their influence felt in the filthier beginning fringes of the grunge scene back in the early 90’s as well, acting as a bridge from the then overly glamy metal scene into a newer, rawer, edgier, and dirtier sound. I also believe that today’s scene could learn a thing or two from these guys. In a time when our lives seem to go so fast, and attention spans rarely last past a two minute reality show highlight clip, you may find it easier that you think to slip into these lengthy, mesmerizing opuses with comforting ease. You really don’t even need to get baked to enjoy it all, although it really doesn’t hurt…
Article: Dean Keim