I miss the scoundrels. The pirates and pillagers of centuries ago, when a man still stood a chance against the government. I mean, Black Beard had a whole private armada parked in a cove off North Carolina. If we were back in those times, I suspect that the members of Sleep would be cut from such rakish cloth. What total bad assess. These are men who do not fall into the typical trajectory of most music nerds. Chris Hakius became a truck driver before forming the bass vocal duo Om with fellow sleeper Al Cisneros (listen: Variations on a Theme). Justin Marler became an Eastern European monk. And one Matt Pike is now guitarist and singer for the best heavy metal trio currently around: High on Fire.
Out of the ashes of Cali punk band Asbestos Death came Sleep. Part of the West Coast movement which included Earth, Kyuss, and Monster Magnet, they were heavily influenced by Pentagram. Only, check this: if Pentagram were the US inheritors of the Sabbath torch, then Sleep took the torch, lit a new one, and burned down the whole fucking village. It was 1991 when the distant cannon fire of Volume One was first heard off the cliffs. Then Marler left the band to become a monk. (Russian Orthodox?) Holy Mountain was released in 1993 and Sleep sailed to Europe. Some smart Euro A&R person took notice and proceeded to offer the boys a six-figure deal. But they didn’t soil their shorts and go commercial, as many bands would. They fired up the bong and recorded an album from which, after the smoke cleared, emerged one 60-minute epic song entitled ‘Jerusalem’. The industry people, of course, buried the album and the band broke up.
However, ‘Jerusalem’ has since emerged in numerous formats, including a double album and the 2003 Tee Pee records version renamed: Dopesmoker. The title is fitting. This recording is a devastating heavy sludge dirge relating a story called ‘The Chronicle of the Sinsemillian’ and the travels of a people called ‘The Weedians’. I know. Awesome.