“Dopesmoker is the entire history of the metal riff, slowed down, and deconstructed. It is, in fact, the entire history of the planet, of humanity.” – Dara Higgins finds enlightenment in the reissue of Sleep‘s Dopesmoker.
Dopesmoker gets another release, this one the Deluxe, remastered version the world has been waiting for, with, as a bonus, new, and utterly fucking terrific, artwork. If you are a Sleep fan, you own this record already, but you may be swayed into commerce by the extra track, a live recording of Holy Mountain from 1994 and the swish new look. (Although, as a Sleep fan, it would seem for more desirable if it came with a packet of Tuc crackers sellotaped to the front.) If you like your metal, prog, or just weed, it’s essential you hook yourself up. If not, fuck off. There’s some jangly 3 minute guitar pop being created by some skinny jeans wearing twelve year olds who want to write about Nintendos and girls being released on the internet every fifteen seconds. This is a place for real men. Begone.
London Records famously refused to release Dopesmoker on first hearing, possibly fearing that at sixty minutes in duration, it would prove difficult to get that all important radio play.( Come on, guys, that’s what payola is for, isn’t it? Ram it down their throats.) It gives a kind of prescience into the wilful, profligate arrogance of record company executives and the hubristic lack of vision and self awareness that’s accelerated their own irrelevance to the point of near extinction, Dopesmoker lives on, as loved now by the tiny minority of people that would have done so on its proposed release back in the nineties. So, instead of seeming like progressive champions of genre defying and defining stoner metal, they looks like a bunch of tin eared, terrified hucksters, afraid of the awesome might of an hour’s worth of continuous music and the inherent dangers for the human race contained within, were it to be released. Cats and dogs, living together, that kind of thing. There’s a waiting room in Hades where the London executive who lacked the stones to rock, and that Decca guy who turned down the Beatles, and Alan McGee, just cos, will wait out eternity being reminded of their follies. If there’s any justice, Dopesmoker will be on infinite repeat on the p.a.
Dopesmoker is the entire history of the metal riff, slowed down, and deconstructed. It is, in fact, the entire history of the planet, of humanity. The primordial gurgling, the torturous, endless orbits around the cold, uncaring sun. Day follows night follows day follows the riff, the never ending chain of the riff. The drums come in, like the first fish, skittering across the sands of the Jurassic age, it takes flight like a pterodon, the leathery wings enveloping us, soaring above a crashing surf of riffs. Swamp suck us down, then spit us out. Tower hamlets block out the sun. We live, we die. By the end, humanity has come and gone, invented the a-bomb and the shopping centre and died in a crunching, crashing wave of hubris. You’ve listened to this record, and you are one hour older, but infinitely wiser. Hail the Weedian.
Dopesmoker is out now on Southern Lord. Sleep play The Button Factory on May 23rd with A Storm Of Light.