Lying upon my front stoop when I got home from an unextraordinary workout was a box from Vermont. Inside said box was a heavy ass double LP from the now defunct doom metal band Sleep. Yes, the classic stoner doom metal masterpiece Dopesmoker. The Weedian people have arrived at my humble Midwestern abode and they’re ready to shake the foundations with their monster, fuzzed-out riffs and tales of stoned hemp people crossing THC-flooded terrain.
I’m about as straight edge as they come, folks. But it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate someone elses green buzz. And if these three were stoned to the heavens when they made this hour-long monolithic epic, then my hats off to ’em. Imagine Black Sabbath’s dirgiest dirge, like “Black Sabbath” blaring from Cheech and Chong’s weed-constructed van. They keep things in second gear the entire time, but it’s the kind of slow chug of a vehicle you wouldn’t dare pass on the highway for fear it was the crew from The Devil’s Rejects waiting to follow you off the highway so they could kill you and play with your blood. No, this smoking van you either turn off and go a different route, or you just follow along, roll down your windows, and get one hell of a contact high.
This is the 180 gram remastered “Indica” version of this monstrous record. “Dopesmoker” is three sides of this double album. Over one hour of Matt Pike sweating up a storm as he makes Tony Iommi cry somewhere in the universe. Al Cisneros’ vocals are more like demonic Gregorian chant than actual singing, while Chris Hakius keeps time like a man on a mission. Those that are used to the muffled graininess of the 2003 Jerusalem release will either have an out-of-body experience or be disappointed to the lack of “evil” with this new 2012 remastered version. It’s still sounds like the entire band was put through a Big Muff at 10, but the song is overall clearer and sonically a wonder to behold. Pike’s leads come out of the speakers and puncture your eardrums. You can feel the bass and kick drums, where as before it was just assumed there were drums and not just a wild animal running through a hospital ward.
So yeah, I’ve got Sleep’s Dopesmoker playing on the stereo for the second time now and it sounds even better. Maybe the coffee helped, I don’t know. I’m sure there were strict instructions to get really stoned before listening when this first came out. I can tell you firsthand weed isn’t necessary to love this thing. Would it enhance it? Ehh, I guess I’ll never know. Either way, thanks Sleep, Southern Lord, and In The Moment Records for introducing me to the Weedian people. I bet they’re hungry.