When Sleep headlined a Levitation makeup at Mohawk in 2016, touched off by Japanese hammer of the gods Boris and ground into glass by glacial art-doom rarity Sunn O))), their magma splatter evaporated one misconception about the reconstituted Bay Area trio: calling Al Cisneros (Om), Matt Pike (High on Fire), and Jason Roeder (Neurosis) “stoner rock” is like reducing Motörhead to “biker metal.”
“That show was massive,” agreed Pike last spring. “And I could never fill the shoes of Lemmy. He was a huge influence on me.
“But yeah, I’ve always been, like, ‘Why does it have to be stoner rock?’ Fuck, I’ve had that pinned on me since day one. Stoner rock. Like it wasn’t just rock. Like it wasn’t just metal. Half my shit is punk rock from the Eighties. You just hear it with newer technology, newer amps.”
Primary to Sleep’s igneous sets are Cisneros intoning Valhalla, which frees the guitarist from the mic unlike his day job, HOF. Roeder then binds the two with tribal brutality. Three LPs anticipate a bad seed new sibling some two decades after the next oldest album and four years after 2014 reunion single “The Clarity,” an entire LP worth of peak doom in under
“Sleep shows, there’s never one that’s exactly the same,” jokes Pike. “There’s tempos we call Black Flag-ing it, but we’ll slow shit down on purpose in the middle of a song, and then we have to lead each other, so a lot of it is like written improv.
It’s hard to explain.
“A lot of Sleep is tonal experiment. Like we’ll hit one note for a really long time, but it’s to pull different things from your heart to your hands to your guitar to your amp. So then music isn’t about the notes you play, but how you play them.”
Thu., Jan. 25, 8pm