Album Review: Sleep – Dopesmoker [Reissue]


Say what you will about artistic integrity and sticking to your guns, but it’s no wonder that London Records pitched a righteous fit when the stoner metal legends, Sleep, delivered what would end up being their last record to the major label. The album featured a single, 63-minute song titled “Dopesmoker”, an epic tribute to the virtues of, yes, smoking dope. London refused to release the  album in its pitched form, so the band decided to split up rather than compromise their vision: Matt Pike went on to form High on Fire, Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius became Om, and Sleep’s final album went for years without an official release.
Only heard in a number of editions that never met the band’s approval, Southern Lord and producer Brad Boatright have teamed up with Sleep to finally realize their original vision forDopesmoker. The low end has been opened up, making it sound thicker and louder than ever before. As for the record itself, it’s one near-endless riff made to feel even longer with a few tokes of its namesake herb.
“Drop out of life with bong in hand/Follow the smoke toward the riff-filled land,” Cisneros howls in the first lyrics on their final album. Coming in roughly eight minutes into their opus, those words could be read as the band’s advice for getting the most out of your listening experience. Dopesmoker is archetypal stoner metal, but cranked up and stretched out to almost comic proportions. Chugging chords, Cisneros primal yowls, a rhythm backing that’s relentless, and druggy lyrics are all drawn out across more than an hour; occasionally a piercing fuzz solo will rise out of the smoke, but there’s little else to break up the intoxicating (and intoxicated) groove that Sleep lead you down.
It’s not for everybody, certainly; all but the biggest potheads/metalheads may burn out after so much grinding. It’s no showcase for songwriting, either, but it makes up for that with heady atmosphere. Come in expecting a mystical journey and take it for what it is—an hour-long, drug-infused jam—and you’ll be pulled right in.
Essential Songs: “Dopesmoker” (what else?)

As previously announced, Southern Lord Recordings will release a deluxe reissue of one the most essential albums of modern times – Dopesmoker from stoner metal icons, SLEEP. This reissue is entirely remastered from the original smoke-encrusted Ampex reels, and features an unreleased live recording of one their greatest live performances — “Holy Mountain” from San Francisco’s I-Beam in 1994 — as well as a brand new artwork by long time SLEEP artist Arik Roper, who crafted something truly special and consciousness-expanding for the album’s rebirth.
Dopesmoker stands as one of the towering achievements in recent metal history: a mesmerizing, intoxicating, and incredibly complex composition that remains unrivaled in the evolution of stoner metal.
In conjunction with its release, SLEEP will be headlining the 2012 edition of the Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands before departing on a 24-city tour of Europe and the UK commencing May 3 in Wroclaw, Poland.
SLEEP 2012 European Tour Dates:
4/14/2012 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, Netherlands
5/03/2012 Asymmetry Festival – Wroclaw, Poland w/ A Storm of Light
5/04/2012 Amager Bio – Copenhagen, Denmark w/ A Storm of Light
5/05/2012 Betong – Oslo, Norway w/ A Storm of Light
5/06/2012 Strand – Stockholm, Sweden w/ A Storm of Light
5/08/2012 Tavastia – Helsinki, Finland
5/09/2012 Berghain – Berlin, Germany w/ A Storm of Light
5/10/2012 Conne Island – Leipzig, Germany w/ A Storm of Light
5/11/2012 Lucerna Music Bar – Prague, Czech Republic w/ A Storm of Light
5/12/2012 Club 202 – Budapest, Hungary w/ A Storm of Light
5/13/2012 Tvornica Kulture – Zagreb, Croatia w/ A Storm of Light
5/14/2012 Arena – Vienna, Austria w/ A Storm of Light
5/16/2012 Circolo Degli Artisti – Rome, Italy w/ A Storm of Light
5/17/2012 Fillmore Club – Cortemaggiore, Italy w/ A Storm of Light
5/18/2012 Dachstock – Bern, Switzerland w/ A Storm of Light
5/19/2012 Fzw – Dortmund, Germany w/ A Storm of Light
5/20/2012 Gagarin 205 – Athens, Greece
5/22/2012 The Arches – Glasgow, Scotland w/ A Storm of Light
5/23/2012 Button Factory – Dublin, Ireland w/ A Storm of Light
5/24/2012 Stylus – Leeds, United Kingdom w/ A Storm of Light
5/25/2012 ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror – London, United Kingdom w/ Slayer, Melvins
5/26/2012 Villette, Sonique – Paris, France
5/27/2012 Trix – Antwerp, Belgium w/ A Storm of Light
5/28/2012 Feierwerk – Munich, Germany w/ A Storm of Light
5/31/2012 ATP Primavera Sound Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain w/ Wolves In The Throne Room

“Proceeds the Weedian. Nazareth.”