Sleep is a stoner doom metal band from San Jose, California. Active during the 1990s, Sleep earned critical and record label attention early in their career. Critic Eduardo Rivadavia describes them as “perhaps the ultimate stoner rock band” and notes they exerted a strong influence on heavy metal in the 1990s. However, conflict with their record company had contributed to Sleep’s breakup by the end of the decade. The band reformed in 2009, and have played sporadic live dates internationally since.
Their debut album Volume One was released in 1991. Frequently compared to bands like Saint Vitus, Sleep soon gained a devoted fanbase within the developing doom metal scene. Marler quit the band soon after to take up life as a monk, leaving the band as a power trio for the recording of their Volume Two EP, which was released officially by Off The Disk Records in 1991.
The band’s next album was sent to the independent label, Earache, as a demo. Recorded at Razors Edge studios in San Francisco, with Billy Anderson, Chris Savino handling production, the tape showcased Sleep’s love of all things retro, from the blatant Black Sabbath/Blue Cheer influences, to their fixation with 1970’s-style tube amplification. The label immediately signed the band and released the tape exactly as it was received.
Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1992) is widely considered a seminal album in the evolution of stoner metal. The album’s release was followed by a potentially lucrative offer from London Records, and Sleep signed with them. Around this time, Earache released its first Black Sabbath Tribute album, and Sleep contributed a cover of “Snowblind”.
Under their new contract, they began work on their third album, Dopesmoker, in 1995. Much to the dismay of executives at London records, Dopesmoker was a single song more than one hour long. London Records declared the album unmarketable and refused to release it. Sleep returned to the studio and then submitted their second attempt at the new album. They had retitled it Jerusalem, re-written some of the lyrics and trimmed it down to a “lean” 52 minutes, but it was essentially the same as Dopesmoker. London Records again refused to release it. Frustrated and generally unhappy with the situation, the members of Sleep decided to disband.