Review Summary: Follow the smoke toward the riff-filled land
It would be a safe assumption to say that for most of the music listening populous Sleep's opus, Dopesmoker
, would be the musical equivalent of undergoing trephination while overdosing on Ambien, but for those with an open mind and a spliff it is nothing short of nirvana. Originally recorded in 1995 and released as an unauthorized and bastardized bootleg entitled Jerusalem
in 1999, Dopesmoker
finally saw the light of day in its true form in 2003. It's not hard to understand why the album was shelved. Being a single song and clocking in at 63 minutes long, this unholy ode to god, weed, and more weed is daunting. Not only that, but the behemoth track can appear to be static in its construction. Built around the slow, churning, low end from current Om masterminds Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius and the droning, near stagnant riffs of Matt Pike, now the creative force behind High on Fire, Dopesmoker
moves like molasses at twenty below. Ironically, Dopesmoker
's greatest assets are the very things that make in so inaccessible. The ebb and flow from disparaging and vacant lead guitar work to thunderous crunch is akin to some forbidden, ancient holy mantra, leaving the listener lost in the supernatural, only to be violently thrust back into the here and now. This macabre ceremony is beautifully orchestrated by Cisneros' captivating vocals, whose long drawn out howls are downright shamanic.
For many heavy music fans, the members of Sleep are better known for their musical exploits in High On Fire and Om, but what they produced on Dopesmoker
can never be matched. Perfecting what Black Sabbath first hinted at decades ago, Dopesmoker
crowning achievement of the Stoner Metal movement.