Sometimes you just need something really heavy to remember what it’s like to feel the power of music as it envelopes you. Tuesday night, January 23, at the Civic Theatre provided such relief, as doom metal stalwarts Sleep ascended to the stage in a display of heavy, distortion-filled ecstasy. Led by Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and Jason Roeder, the trio opened with their classic eight-minute “Holy Mountain,” and from the opening moments you could rest assured that the band was in good spirits, full of energy and the crowded responded in kind with the kind of headbanging and fist-pumping that can only be seen at a show featuring a band as drudgingly heavy and persistent as Sleep.
The band for a time disbanded, but based on what the audience witnessed last night, they haven’t lost their fire and passion for making heavy music that’s cathartic and as well as awe-inspiring. Pike on guitar was especially fun to watch. Starting the show on a cold night with no shirt takes gusto, but he didn’t miss a beat as he meandered all over his rather large section of the stage. Al C on vocals didn’t engage the audience in an overabundance of chatter, but it didn’t matter. Sleep tends to showcase their chops in a much more musical vain than other acts. The music speaks for itself and the band seems aware of this.
Over the course of the 90-minute set, the band highlighted well-known songs like “Holy Mountain,” “Dopesmoker,” and closer “Cultivator” all resonated with the capacity crowd, and sent us all out in a hail of smoke and brimstone. Local openers Thou began promptly at 8:00 p.m. and delivered a heavy mix of screams and growls and managed to ease the crowd into the evening, even if the music was absurdly heavy. The 5 piece has managed to slowly build a name for themselves as a local metal band worth knowing, and on this night they edged up even more in terms of recognition and refinement.
Photos by Steve Hatley