THE METAL WIRE: SHOW REVIEW***SLEEP Live @ THE VAN BUREN, Phoenix, Arizona 06/09/2018 (Fan-Shot Video; Soundboard Vantage Point)
Written by Marc C. Pietrek 2018
[Marc C. Pietrek filed the following report for VITRIOL, INC / A DARK UNITED FRONT (www.vitriolinc.com) on 06/17/2018 4:49PM EST] – Doom/stoner metal legends SLEEP brought their “weedian” slumber to the top-notch, superbly intimate Van Buren in Phoenix, Arizona on 6/09/2018. It was in support of one of metal’s most anticipated reunion albums in recent years, ‘The Sciences’ [2018 THIRD MAN RECORDS].
Beginning immediately after the historic N.A.S.A. recording of the “the eagle has landed” played over the venue’s PA, the San Jose, California three-piece ascended the audience on an Iommian-layden voyage to mysterious distant lands. Stops along the way included encounters with a sonic titan who looked to the holy mountain and the “rays of the new stoner sun rising”, an organic mind food nurturing botanist, an alien sky-crossing marijuanaut, a solar sea-swimming dragonaut, a man who lurks the very depths of marine space and then ultimately crossing paths with a dopesmoking caravan marching through the holy land in the Giza Butler region. Over the course of this journey the achievement of the quality of coherence and intelligibility that is the clarity.
Translation: SLEEP performed select slabs from ‘the Sciences’, ‘Sleep’s Holy Mountain’ [1993 EARACHE RECORDS], ‘Dopesmoker’[2003 SOUTHERN-LORD RECORDS] plus two recent singles and motherfucking kicked-ass in the process!
Matt Pike (guitar; also of HIGH ON FIRE] paced the stage, laying down his signature seismic shifting riffs complimented by only one of the sickest vibratos in all of metal. Serious demon summoning stuff going on when that man shakes the bejesus out of those all too endearing dark notes. With HIGH ON FIRE consuming so much of his heart, mind and soul, it was great to see him in a reduced role where he could just let his high priest of Stonehenge fretwork oscillate throughout the crowd. His performance of “the Clarity” was one of more than few highlights this night, especially at the solo part. When that man plugs in and steps under the lights, he gives an extremely solid effort. There is no mailing it in. This night was no exception.
Al Cisneros (bass, vocals) churned out some waaaaaay fuzzed-out bass-lines straight out of the Geezer Butler playbook. Looking like a grey wizard in a headbobbin’, kneebendin’ groove, he cooked up a warlock’s caldron of low-end rumble. The beginning of Sonic Titan” and at the 07:14 mark of “Giza Butler” provided two of the shows most notable highlights. Why he is never mentioned in the same conversations as guys like Scott Reeder (FIREBALL MINISTRIES, ex – KYUSS, ex- the OBSESSED) is beyond me.
Jason Roeder [drums; also of NEUROSIS] is the “new guy” in the outfit. Former dummer , Chris Hakius, bludgeoned the drums much like Dale Crover [THE MELVINS] and that was a huge draw for me. Now, Jason Roeder does not throw a beat down on the drum kit in SLEEP like his predecessor did. What he does do, however, is steadily navigate the ship. As huge of a part that the other two have in the band’s sound, it is he who really leads the direction of the songs these days. His performance of “the Botanist” was an example of this as well as being a highlight. He has seamlessly infused his experimental drumming style into SLEEP making them a more well-rounded unit. There is a true cohesiveness in every part of every song. That is what I took away most from watching them.
It is safe to assume that most in the audience that night had never seen SLEEP perform live before, myself included. The band had a few tours under their belts opening TROUBLE and CATHEDRAL in Europe and HAWKWIND and CANNIBAL CORPSE in the U.S. the early to mid-90s, but nothing particularly extensive before calling it quits. Matt Pike has said before that most of the people that witnessed SLEEP perform live in the 90s were not able to figure them out. They just “did not get SLEEP” and their vibe at all. The band gained a large part of their following years after they broke up in the mid -90s before ‘Dopesmoker’ even saw the light of day.
Well, how time and even more so, time away, can change things in a positive light. This incarnation of SLEEP still maintains its stripped-down Sabbath worship, but it now has its own multi-strain, resin-caked fingerprints smeared all across the doom/stoner metal genre. This band is lean, mean and , dare I say it, loose but yet very tight and (gasp!) polished. While performing, they rendered (most of) the audience nearly silent but in oh such a beautiful way. A near capacity crowd very contently watched in a stoner’s headbobbing trance, responding very favorably (as much as a giant room full of stoners can ha ha) in between songs. They let it be known to the band that they, in fact, “got them”, loud and clear. They would gladly take that journey again.
00.) Intro: “The eagle has landed”
01.) Marijuanaut’s Theme
02.) Holy Mountain
03.) The Clarity
04.) Sonic Titan
05.) Giza Butler
06.) Leagues Beneath
07.) The Botanist
09.) Dopsesmoker [partial]
Be sure to check out the YouTube link to the recording of the entire performance (listed directly below), as well as their official web-site ( https://weedian.com/ ) and official Facebook band page ( https://www.facebook.com/officialsleep/ ). Now, get some SLEEP ha ha!! Cheers, ya rivet-heads!!
SLEEP – Live @ THE VAN BUREN, Phoenix, Arizona 06/09/2018