There is a certain legend surrounding this album. After the release of “Holy Mountain,” some record label execs thought that SLEEP had it in them to be the next BLACK SABBATH and take the music world by storm. The contract was signed and the label waited as SLEEP recorded what was to be their breakthrough opus. A few months later, the band delivered the new album to the execs contained within a human skull bong adorned with a military helmet. On top of the overwhelmingly Metal delivery, the album consisted of one hour-long ode to God and weed entitled “Jerusalem.” Sadly, this bit of defiant artistic creativity was the beginning of the end for SLEEP. The label refused the album, though it was released later, divided into six shorter tracks against the bands’ wishes.
In 2003, Tee Pee released the definitive edition of this song, taken from a different recording session and featuring a much heavier and extended mix. Re-christened “Dopesmoker,” this song/album reaches pinnacles of slowness and heaviness that most bands can only dream of. Consisting of very few riffs, just two solos and vocals in the vein of a savage war rally sermon, “Dopesmoker” is securely amongst the ranks of the quintessential Doom/Stoner Metal albums. This is trance-inducing, repetitive and sluggish Metal – and it absolutely kills.
After being demolished for over an hour by the main track, you get the quick(!) ten-minute live track “Sonic Titan” which is basically an early and less-good version of the title track from “Holy Mountain.” Really, this track seems needlessly tacked on, but since live SLEEP material is so hard to come by, I guess it’s a worthwhile addition. The packaging on this record is also incredible, featuring my favorite Metal cover art by far. The little pic at the top of this review doesn’t do it justice – find a copy of the DigiPak, unfold and gaze upon the awesomeness! The best part of all of this is that you don’t have to engage in the activities referenced on this album to enjoy the music here – this is Stoner Metal delivered in the form of spine-crunching Doom, so if you like either of those, you need this album. As Al Cisneros so commandingly bellows throughout the song, “follow the smoke to the riff-filled land!” (Online August 21, 2005)