Monday night at The Danforth Music Hall got heavy.  Really heavy.  San Jose’s stoner doom metal wizards, Sleep, were in town to perform in front of a sold-out space of mostly dudes, wearing mostly metal band t-shirts.  The 3-piece consisting of front man/bassist Al Cisneros, guitarist Mike Pike, and drummer Jason Roeder, released their critically-acclaimed fourth record, The Sciences, earlier this year, and their first full-length record since 92s ground breaker Sleep’s Holy Mountain.  Songs from the new record would take the forefront this night forming nearly half of the eleven song set.

To the Sleep unschooled, eleven songs may seem light or that the band barely got going.  But in truth, they played an extended set that included a brief intermission and an opportunity for all to reattain optimum head space.  If you get my drift.

The stage chugged out a constant fog of dry ice but didn’t come anywhere close to the density of bass and electric guitar riffs being fed to the crowd.  Sleep music is palpable.  It started from opening song “Marijuanaut’s Theme” off The Sciences and continued to the set closer “Giza Butler”, also from the new record.  Fans were also treated to Holy Mountain songs including the title track, “Dragonaut”, and “From Beyond”, as well as “Leagues Beneath” and “The Clarity”.

Prior to the start of the show when some fans learned Sleep would play an extended set, there was speculation they might play “Dopesmoker” in all its hour-long bliss.  They didn’t, but the crowd were still treated to a shortened version that encapsulated all the sticky goodness of the full-length three-part epic.

Sonically, the band are massive and all encompassing.  And as sludgy, loose, and fuzzed-out as the guitars churn, they are held tightly contained within Roeder’s razor sharp drumming proving there is focus and precision in the notes Pike and Cisneros strum.

Sleep took us on the heaviest of head-nodding journeys; an assault of hazey bliss that even the most stoned out fans won’t soon forget.  Sleep will play the Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh, NC before finishing off in September at Brouwerij West in San Pedro, CA.

See this band.

Words and photos by Dave MacIntyre