Rating:
8.0
Sleep - Dopesmoker
2003


01. Dopesmoker
02. Sonic Titan [live]


Sleep's Dopesmoker is the sonic equivalent of powerwalking a marathon through a valley filled with green Jello.

Like trying to hike 26.2 miles through lime-colored molasses, listening to this album in its entirety is slow going, lasts forever, and is a physically and mentally draining endeavor. While this album has only one actual new studio track on it, that one track happens to be a longer listen than sitting through than a double header of Slayer's Reign In Blood followed by Divine Intervention. It chugs along, and just keeps going and going and going. I imagine you can probably figure out the symbolism behind "green."

Ultimately this album resulted in the break-up of the band, which I guess has a happy ending as ex-Sleepites went on to form Om and High On Fire… The nutshell version of the story is simply this: Stonerdoom Sleep were "the next big thing" following Holy Mountain, London Records dropped gobs of money snapping them up, they went off to Jerusalem, got really, really, really stoned and cut this monstrosity of an album/track. The label freaked out and refused to release it. The band then trimmed it to a svelte 52 minutes and the label still refused to release it… the stress caused the band to break up. Fast forward three years to 1998, a friend of the band, with their blessing released it. Eventually Jerusalem was released - with that album being the shorter version randomly hacked into six separate tracks. Finally, in 2003, eight years after it was actually recorded, Tee Pee Records had the balls to release the full hour-plus long track in all its monolithic glory.

Back to "Dopesmoker"… it's basically an hour long droning track with only a couple riffs repeated ad nauseam with the occasional lyrics (i.e. "Drop out of life bong in hand/Follow the smoke to the riff-filled land") or solo bits to break up the monotony. The riff and groove are undeniable… it's Matt fucking Pike, after all. The easiest way to describe it is to look at the works of their subsequent projects. Imagine, if you will, a nice, fat riff from The Art Of Self Defense slowed down to, and layered over the top of a hypnotic drum and bass jam off Pilgrimage … strung out to over an hour.

The disk also includes a live version of the track "Sonic Titan" - which, after the enormity of "Dopesmoker" is a lot like getting a complimentary apple pie after taking on a steak house's 96 ounce steak challenge… a nice sentiment, but really completely unnecessary. After the main course, you're done and need a nap.

To some this is undoubtedly incredibly boring. As someone who hasn't touched the hippie lettuce in over a decade, if in the right frame of mind, it still sucks me in. (If not in the mood, well, there's always the "next" button, eh?)

It's a challenging listen, a test of endurance and battle of wills. It's thoroughly enjoyable if you are up to the challenge. Or if you are stoned, I imagine.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Band profile: Sleep
Album: Dopesmoker


 



Written on 09.09.2009 by
Xnoybis
BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.
More reviews by Xnoybis ››



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DayFly - 23.02.2010 at 13:17  
Quote:
physically and mentally draining endeavor

Indeed. Boy, was I unprepared for this album's efforts to completely beat me. It's not something I listen to regulary (probably wouldn't even if I were a stoner fan) but it is an experience you owe yourself to try out at least once. Great review.
Xnoybis - 23.02.2010 at 18:51  
Written by DayFly on 23.02.2010 at 13:17

Quote:
physically and mentally draining endeavor

Indeed. Boy, was I unprepared for this album's efforts to completely beat me. It's not something I listen to regulary (probably wouldn't even if I were a stoner fan) but it is an experience you owe yourself to try out at least once. Great review.


thanks. it's nice to see someone read and respond to the review!

every once in a while it shows up on my zune randomizer at the office and i start to mentally weigh whether or not i want that to be the soundtrack to my desk jockeying for the better part of my morning or afternoon. it's about a 50-50 "skip" to listen ratio.

it's very enjoyable, if only listened to on a horribly infrequent basis.
DayFly - 23.02.2010 at 22:14  
Yeah well the album was not on my mind until I subjected myself to it again recently.

Come to think of it, there should be a notification if a certain person releases a review. There are a few reviewers here I'd subscribe to, even if they don't cover a band/album/genre I'm normally not fond of.
Xnoybis - 23.02.2010 at 22:30  
Written by DayFly on 23.02.2010 at 22:14

Yeah well the album was not on my mind until I subjected myself to it again recently.

Come to think of it, there should be a notification if a certain person releases a review. There are a few reviewers here I'd subscribe to, even if they don't cover a band/album/genre I'm normally not fond of.


i'll suggest that to Ivan... giving you proper credit, of course!
Axe Argonian - 17.03.2011 at 16:41  
Informative review, and yes, this album is a challenge.

I'm disappointed, however, by the unavailability of this album. Everywhere I look Dopesmoker is either unavailable or available at an intolerably high price. Heck, even eBay - a marketplace where almost everything is available - does not have many copies of this album for sale. Is there any reason why Dopesmoker is rare?
Troy Killjoy - 17.03.2011 at 17:55  
Written by Axe Argonian on 17.03.2011 at 16:41

Informative review, and yes, this album is a challenge.

I'm disappointed, however, by the unavailability of this album. Everywhere I look Dopesmoker is either unavailable or available at an intolerably high price. Heck, even eBay - a marketplace where almost everything is available - does not have many copies of this album for sale. Is there any reason why Dopesmoker is rare?

It was released as a limited vinyl LP and only received one pressing as a CD, likely limited as well. The Tee Pee website doesn't even have any copies, being that it was their final release.

As for it being a challenge, I don't think this is any harder to get into than Sabbath or Bongripper.
Xnoybis - 17.03.2011 at 19:05  
Written by Axe Argonian on 17.03.2011 at 16:41

Informative review, and yes, this album is a challenge.

I'm disappointed, however, by the unavailability of this album. Everywhere I look Dopesmoker is either unavailable or available at an intolerably high price. Heck, even eBay - a marketplace where almost everything is available - does not have many copies of this album for sale. Is there any reason why Dopesmoker is rare?


i don't think it's that rare. i see it at my local cd shop for a fair/normal price.

$13.99

oops. out of stock. but there are copies floating around. certainly a lot more than five years ago...
3rdWorldFuckface - 04.11.2011 at 05:01  
Written by Xnoybis on 23.02.2010 at 18:51

thanks. it's nice to see someone read and respond to the review!
it's very enjoyable, if only listened to on a horribly infrequent basis.

I wanted to listen to the album once reading the review and I did. It was a great experience. This album is so so so heavy and so so so long that it becomes like an living breathing titan. Though it is musically very bleak it belongs to a rare breed of metal albums. IMO It was an good idea to put an a single track like this than putting 10 tracks under different names but featuring boring and generic songwriting.
A must hear for all doom fans.
Spirit Molecule - 04.11.2011 at 16:00  
Written by Xnoybis on 23.02.2010 at 22:30

Written by DayFly on 23.02.2010 at 22:14

Yeah well the album was not on my mind until I subjected myself to it again recently.

Come to think of it, there should be a notification if a certain person releases a review. There are a few reviewers here I'd subscribe to, even if they don't cover a band/album/genre I'm normally not fond of.


i'll suggest that to Ivan... giving you proper credit, of course!


This is definitely something that could work. I definitely would subscribe to certain reviewers.

Anyway I hadn't read this review before, but now I want to listen to Dopesmoker again. Just that there isn't a bong in hand Perfect album to sit back with a couple of spliffs.
Oh and yeah it is quite hard to find the LP/CD. A friend of mine recently got his hands on the re-release from TeePee records, and it was a treat to listen to on record
Great review by the way Are you planning to make a trip to Roadburn next year? I think I need to start saving up for it, crazy fucking line up for next year. Wish I was in Europe around april next year. I could have hit roadburn and hellfest(if they can top last years lineup)
Mr. Doctor - 05.11.2011 at 13:04  
Written by Spirit Molecule on 04.11.2011 at 16:00

This is definitely something that could work. I definitely would subscribe to certain reviewers.


Well, if you put a certain user on your friend list you WILL get a notification incase they publish a review.

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