Let's get he back story out of the way here first. SLEEP had done two album in the early 90's and then signed to London records for their next project. Well, the band went in the studio and cranked out a 63 minute long song called Dopesmoker.Their label was not happy with this so the band went back to the studio and edited it down to 52 minutes and called it Jerusalem. The label still didn't like it so they shelved it and dropped the band. The band would eventually call it quits as well.
In 1999 Jerusalem finally came out with a running time of 52 minutes and is a single composition split into six identically-named tracks. There are believe it or not three different versions of Jerusalem: one- London Records promotional disc two- a bootleg with cover art by Arik Roper, and three- the Rise Above/Music Cartel Records. All three of these versions are edited. The version of the album titled Dopesmoker was released on April 22, 2003 by Tee Pee Records on compact disc and vinyl with a 63-minute running time. Now that brings us almost up to last year.
In 2011 Southern Lord was contacted by SLEEP’s Al Cisneros about the possibility of releasing a deluxe version of this classic recording. The rights to the record had reverted back to the band. So for this re-issue it has been remastered by From Ashes Rise guitarist Brad Boatright (OFF!, Noothgrush), Arik Roper contributed new artwork and a version Holy Mountain live from 1994 has been added on the album. Now that all that is out of that let's talk about this music. When this album was originally done stoner rock and even doom was a smaller sub-genre in the 1990's but Sleep certainly pushed the boundaries of those styles. Dopesmoker takes doom and stoner rock and slows it down and by slow I mean almost to the point of barely moving kind of slow. Yet the heaviness level is even greater than on "Holy Mountain". The first time I heard Dopesmoker I was in awe and confused by it too because at the time I couldn't imagine a band going that slow and taking that long for one song. Once I set down and became determined to hear the song in one sitting and do so then it made sense. This was their vision and they stuck with it. Thank goodness they did because it's monster that will strangle your senses, wrap you up and pull you in for the experience. The remastered version here doesn't sound much different to my ears. That's probably a good thing because it already had the right amount of syrupy thickness throughout it. It really didn't need a whole done to it, but any reason to hear this album again is fine by me. I love the artwork, Roper always excels at making odd and alien pictures without being too bizarre. The bonus track sounds great, but had me wishing this band had gotten to go on longer the first time around. This isn't a very different version of the song, but it didn't have to be. It was great the first time around, but I am always up for celebrating and appreciating Sleep's greatest creation.