Two classic exemplars of the genre sometimes known as “stoner rock” play Seattle just in time for “weed day” — April 20.
Today, “stoner rock” is an established genre — though as with “emo” or “indie,” not all its players or fans love the term. (“Doom” is safer.) But call it what you will, everyone aware of the genre knows Electric Wizard, from the U.K., and Sleep, from California, both in town this week.
Widely regarded as musical sons of Black Sabbath — whose “Master of Reality” is considered a classic — each of these bands has penned masterworks inspired and fueled by cannabis: “Dopethrone” by Electric Wizard (2000), and “Dopesmoker” by Sleep (1999, reissued in 2003).
Coincidentally — or not — the architects of these twin monuments to marijuana play Seattle on consecutive Mondays — Electric Wizard at Neumos April 13, then Sleep at the Showbox on — yes, of course, “weed day,” April 20. (For obscure reasons related to some high-school kids in San Rafael, Calif., and possibly the Grateful Dead, “420” has been slang for marijuana since the early ’70s.)
With Satan’s Satyrs. 8 p.m. Monday, April 13, at Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., Seattle; sold out (206-709-9467 or neumos.com).
With Bell Witch. 9 p.m. Monday, April 20, at the Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; sold out (888-929-7849 or showboxonline.com).
“Dopesmoker,” an hourlong suite based around a single riff, is a big test of one’s endurance — or tolerance. Legend has it the members of Sleep, living a monk-like, off-the-grid existence in Comptche, Calif. (population, 159), spent their label advance on weed, self-produced the album and delivered it to horrified London Records execs, flummoxed as to how to release it.
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It eventually did come out years later in various forms on London and other labels, but not before the band broke up. They’ve since reunited but haven’t followed up “Dopesmoker” — if that’s even possible.
Electric Wizard, on the other hand, never stopped. Last fall’s awesomely titled “Time to Die” is the band’s newest release. But “Dopethrone” remains the group’s zenith — seven Sabbath-indebted calls-to-arms leading to the title track, 20 minutes of towering riffs and marching orders to “rise, rise, rise” then, finally, “smoke.”
It may all sound a bit absurd, especially to those who don’t partake — perhaps even to those who do — but these bands are not novelties. Demand is high for what they’re selling.
Both shows are sold out.