The Dopesmoker mix of the album was originally released in 2003 and still is the superior take of the track. It is longer and recorded the way it was intended in the first place. If albums that are "narcolepsy inducing" are not your thing, this is an album to avoid at all costs. Dopesmoker is long, slow and even slower at developing and building as a piece of music. A lot of people turn the album off within the first 10 minutes because frankly speaking, not much happens, especially for the senses of the unexperienced listener. Analyze the album more closely however and indeed a lot happens, but you need to be patient to fully appreciate it. The track starts out with about 3 minutes of a distorted, droning riff which is nothing special but it does set up the meditative vibe. Eventually the drums come crashing in and the track slowly starts to move, mind you the track really doesn't go anywhere till at least 10 minutes into the track. The music becomes hypnotic and repetitive while lyrically it starts to tell the tale of a "bong-hopping trip to the holy land." About 20 minutes in, there is a short break, a short solo but the main riff keeps on going on and on and on, pounding the senses into a big pile of poop. Luckily, it is a very good riff but is it worth listening to for an hour, I doubt it but if the right mood takes you, there is no finer album to listen to and yes, it helps if you are high!!
The main driving force behind this track has nothing to do with guitars at all, it is the drums. After 40 minutes of this track, the only instrument providing variation is the drums. The main riff doesn't really change at all but the drums are constantly changing, adding new fills, patterns, and it is really the key to keeping this track interesting. For me personally, the Dopesmoker track really doesn't fully come to life till some 40 minutes in which is a problem for me seeing as who wants to sit through 40 minutes of mind-numbing music waiting for their favorite section to arrive. Finally at this point the track seems to have major variance, the bass takes on a more experimental approach, the guitar work varies slightly even though that main riff is still on repeat mode and Sleep introduce the best leads of the album. The last 20 minutes of Dopesmoker is what lifts the song out of a quagmire of semi-boring, repetitive riffing and turns it into the monolithic epic that it is. If the track would end 40 minutes in, you would be left with a pretty ordinary epic track, it is the last 20 minutes that really makes it special.
Now producer Billy Anderson has said in interviews that there was no expense spared in making Dopesmoker the heaviest thing ever put on record and you can hear why he makes that claim. Guitar tracks are layered on top of other guitar tracks and it is sounds huge but this remastered reissue sounds even bigger. Whether it is worth buying again if you already have the original is your call but I would highly recommend it if you have the spare cash to blow on buying an album you have probably heard a million times by now. As a bonus you get a live version of Holy Mountain' recorded in 1994 when the band was at the peak of its powers and this is almost worth the purchase price alone. The new cover art has been under some debate, personally I prefer the original cover art but that is not an issue, it is the epic track that matters and it sounds even better on this re-issued version. The main thing the remastering has done is new renewed clarity, the album sounds bigger and clearer without sacrificing any of the original organic heaviness. If you have never bought this album, this is the version to get. If you have never had the urge to buy this album, it might be time to re-think that decision.
Sleep | Facebook