I was blissfully ignorant of the album Dopesmoker until I joined the “Now Playing” group on Facebook and started seeing it posted from time to time, inevitably generating copious amounts of comments like “this is so rad” and “killer”. It’s one of those weird albums that seems to have a tremendous amount of underground cred, and people who are into it revere it like it’s a holy book. Plus it has a bizarre backstory that others have covered extensively, but long story short the trio Sleep wanted to put out an album that would be one hour-long song, they got signed to do so and presented Dopesmoker to their label London in 1996, and London basically shelved it. It’s been released officially and unofficially by a number of labels over the years, both under the names Dopesmoker and Jerusalem. Most recently it has been put out by Southern Lord starting in 2012 in, as near as I can tell, approximately 216,523 different color variations and versions (♠). It’s one of these versions that I picked up the other day.
I enjoy doom metal, but the genre itself is at times given over to becoming monotonously repetitive if the band isn’t careful. And somehow Sleep managed to write an hour-long jam that manages to dance around that trap time and time again. It’s not that there aren’t segments containing repetitive elements, because there are. But Sleep never stay so long in those places that you want to get up and put something else on instead, and somehow pull that off without any significant quieter intervals, a trick sometimes used in black metal to give the listener a short reprieve.
You can give the whole thing a listen on Bandcamp HERE.
(♠) A slight exaggeration. Slight.