Sleep – “Jerusalem”


The making of Sleep’s “Jerusalem”

released: 1998

label: The Music Cartel


The words “stoner epic” don’t even come close to describing the extreme riff-hypnosis that Jerusalem visited upon the red-eyed legions of heshers, grass pirates, and acid casualties who genuflected at the altar of the legendary San Jose power-trio known as Sleep. In 1995, after two albums—‘91’s Volume One (Tupelo/Very Small) and ‘93’s Holy Mountain (Earache)—Sleep bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike, and drummer Chris Hakius were ready to record their masterpiece: A one-song, 52-minute album, with financial assistance from their new corporate benefactors at London Records. Jerusalem was Sabbath in slow motion, Earth 2 without track divisions, and the soundtrack for an eternal bong-huffing caravan to the heart of the Holy Land rolled into a thick, hazy hour of thundering chords, booming vocals, and terminal battery. Little did its architects know that the album (originally entitled Dopesmoker) would be shelved, and that Sleep would break up years before its first official release in 1998. The legends and rumors surrounding the album’s creation are as numerous as they are fantastic: Tales of the band’s staggering weed intake, master tapes delivered in skull bongs, and drug-related budgetary indiscretion proliferated, despite (and probably due to) the fact that Pike (currently of High on Fire), Cisneros and Hakius (both currently of Om) never actually did promotional interviews when the album eventually came out. For our latest Hall of Fame induction, Decibel talked to all three former members of Sleep to find out what really happened on the road to Jerusalem.

—J. Bennett

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