SLEEP (1990–98). Justin Marler (guitar), Matt Pike (guitar), Al Cisneros (bass), Chris Hakius (drums).
Sleep were one of the quintessentially sludgy riff rock bands, often labeled under the stoner rock label. They pioneered a new sound for metal, bringing it back to its roots in Sabbath-era sludge with a passing nod to the Melvins and St. Vitus. The band started out as a quartet, but original guitarist Marler eventually left to become a monk, and the band continued as a three piece for the rest of their career.
The band signed to London Records with great expectations, but then delivered the promised record, Dopesmoker, as an hourlong complex epic about, well, smoking dope. The record company refused to release it, and the band reconfigured it as Jerusalem, where, as on Dopesmoker, the band played just one track, the title song (time 52:00), which seemed to seethe and move almost as though it were a metal symphony, albeit one that was entirely about pot. London once again refused to release the album and the band fell apart. A version of Jerusalem was eventually released by Music Cartel in 1999, and the eventual full version was released posthumously on the Tee Pee record label in 2003.
After the breakup of Sleep, guitarist Matt Pike went on to put together High on Fire, while bassist and drummer Chris Hakius and Al Cisneros went on to the much more disturbing Om. Marler and Hakius also formed the more accessible the Sabians side project.
Discography: Volume One (Very Small, 1991); Volume Two (Off the Disk, 1992); Sleep’s Holy Mountain (Earache, 1993); Jerusalem (Music Cartel, 1999); Dopesmoker (Tee Pee, 2003).