Dopesmoker – Sleep



1999 / 2003 / 2012

Southern Lord Records

Dopesmoker, the ultimate stoner metal album.  Clocking in at one hour, we are treated to one very long, delicious song. Originally, Sleep’s label at the time refused to release the album in its original form causing an argument between the band and the label.  Eventually the album would be released in an edited version titled Jerusalem with a cut run-time and the song split into six separate tracks in 1999.  The Dopesmoker release would come out in 2003 by Tee Pee records.  Bass player/vocalist  Al Cisneros stated that while this release wasn’t exactly the version they submitted, it was the closest release yet.  Come March 2012, Southern Lord Records announced a new release and remaster of the album.  They were initially contacted by Cisneros who expressed an interest in a new release.  Now this reissue is out in a gorgeous 2X LP green vinyl set (as well as CD, gay).

1999 Jerusalem Artwork

Onward to the album, or song, I should say.  “Dopesmoker” is slow but heavy, an hour-long attack of riff upon riff.  It crawls along its running time, but not once is it boring.  The song creeps up with some extremely fuzzy guitar for the first two minutes before the rest of the instruments kick in.  From there on, Sleep takes you on their journey across a hazy dessert.  This album is oozing, much like pus discharge of untreated chlamydia, with atmosphere.  It creates images of barren landscapes, with a beating sun, tinted with a smokey fog.  Matt Pike’s (who went on to form the kick-ass High On Fire) guitar riffs lead the force with a heavy and distorted sound dragging the listener through the terrain like a dog cleaning his ass on the carpet.  Cisneros and Hakius’s (drummer) rhythm compliment the guitar with a solid and pounding footing.  The drums have an extremely raw sound, as there are no noticeable triggers.  All the instruments come together to create an extremely organic sound, almost like an epic, organized jam session.

2003 Dopesmoker Artwork

The new remaster sounds wonderful.  Approved by the entire band, this is how “Dopesmoker” is supposed to sound.  The fact that there are only three instruments is a huge plus for this album.  As it is, the music and guitars have the fuzzy distortion sound we all know and love in our stoner/doom metal while still maintaining a clarity of the instruments.  You can hear the guitar leads, feel the bass swells, and rock your head to the drum beats.  “Dopesmoker” is not a complex piece of music.  Like I said early, it consists of slow riffs after slow riffs.  And, like I also said earlier, this is about the atmosphere.  It doesn’t need to be anything complex.  This is not an album for everybody, so if you’d want to venture into stoner metal territory, maybe start with Sleep’s Holy Mountain.  But if you are going to get your groove on with Dopesmoker, do it right.  Don’t listen to it in pieces, and don’t listen to it in the background.  It is an album to be put on and experienced.

Wanna get high, bro?


3 Responses to “Dopesmoker – Sleep”

  1. So, this band released an album that nobody cares about three times?

  2. Nicholas Says:

    You just don’t get it. Come at me bro.

  3. […] album then closes out with the fifteen minute “Space.”  Taking a cue from bands like Sleep, the song has faster and slower passages as well as all the fuzzy guitar noodling you would expect. […]

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