Once referred to as “the ultimate stoner rock band,” Sleep evolved in the early 1990s and has exerted a considerable, consistent influence on modern heavy music ever since. The group split in 1997 after the release of two hugely influential albums—Sleep’s Holy Mountain and Dopesmoker—returning triumphantly in 2009 when it performed two UK shows as part of All Tomorrow’s Parties’ (ATP) The Fans Strike Back festival, playing Holy Mountain in its entirety along with selections from Dopesmoker. The rabid fan response to the 2009 shows resulted in a run of U.S. live dates in September 2010 that immediately sold out. In celebrating the band’s return, The New York Times referred to the trio as “excellent” and The Chicago Tribune called Sleep “stoner-rock titans.”
Sleep debuted with 1991’s Volume One album, recorded for San Francisco label Tupelo. Earache Records received the band’s next recordings in the mail as a demo. The label—impressed by their single-mindedness and unique vision—immediately signed the band and released the tape exactly as it was received. Record stores worldwide stock Sleep’s Holy Mountain from November 1992 to this day. Sleep’s Holy Mountain is widely considered a seminal album in the evolution of stoner metal. The band then signed to London Records. Their debut album for the major took the form of one mammoth 63 minute long leviathan of a track entitled Jerusalem. The band resisted the label’s attempts at radio edits and bringing in their own engineer to remix the album in view of “marketability”. London balked at the prospect of promoting what probably still is the most extreme music ever recorded for a major label, so shelved the recording and dropped the band. In the years since the band’s self-imposed hiatus, its members went on to form underground heroes Om and High On Fire.
Sleep features Al Cisneros (bass/vocals), Matt Pike (guitar) and Jason Roeder (drums).