Slow-crawl stoner metal lovers rejoiced last year when Sleep reunited for their first U.S. tour since breaking up at the end of the '90s. The band's 2010 tour included a stop at last year's FYF Fest, where loyal fans were rewarded with a set exceeding all expectations, and uninitiated indie-rockers and hipsters shit their pants from the rumble of Sleep hitting one of the lowest ends of the musical spectrum possible in an open-air environment.
The typical stereotype of the heavy metal fan is that the guitars need to be fast and the drums need to be double-bass at approximately 500 bpm. Sure, some fans fit that stereotype, but there are many others that occasionally need to slow it down and move at a crawl. For this subsection of heavy metal fan, Sleep's 1999 release Jerusalem is a landmark album. That may be the most infamous metal album consisting of only one lengthy track, but there are others in the metal realm that have gotten ambitious and attempted to pull off releasing an album consisting of one long track. Here, the Top Five Heavy Metal Albums Consisting of Only One Track:
5. Jesu – Infinity (2009)
Justin Broadrick has had one of the more interesting career arcs in the heavy music scene. From his start as vocalist for legendary grind-metallers Napalm Death, to his influence on industrial music as the ringleader of Godflesh, Broadrick has never been content resting on his previous accomplishments. With his current outfit Jesu, he is pushing the boundaries of shoe gazing post-metal. And with Isis out of the picture camping out at the retirement home for heavy music, Jesu is inarguably at the top of the genre now. Their 2009 release Infinity, consisting of a single 50-minute track is a work of beauty almost from the start and continues to get better as it builds.
4. Pig Destroyer – Natasha (2008)
Terrorizing eardrums with sonic blasts of chaotic yet simultaneously precise death-grind since the late 1990s, Virginia quartet Pig Destroyer decided to go for something different with Natasha. Originally releasing Natasha as a DVD-Audio bonus disc with their 2004 album Terrifyer, Pig Destroyer decided to use the extra capabilities offered by the ability to record in surround-sound to put together a 38-minute work that is slower and more atmospheric, but still fitting into their trademark sound of “organized chaos.” Released by Relapse Records as a stand-alone album in 2008, Natasha does lose a little bit in the translation down to the CD format, but still packs a punch and shows Pig Destroyer as a band that is talented on multiple levels.
3. Edge Of Sanity – Crimson (1996)
One of the first bands to introduce elements of progressive rock into a death metal shell when they formed in Sweden in the late 1980s, Edge Of Sanity's arc of musical evolution culminated with this album consisting of one 40-minute concept track telling a tale that has a similar beginning to the story told by the 2006 film Children Of Men. While it veers off on a different path, the lyrical content to this song take almost as many twists and turns as the film did.
2. Green Carnation – Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness(2001)
Founded by former Emperor bassist Terje Vik Schei (a.k.a Tchort), the second album from this Norwegian group blended elements of goth-metal and progressive rock into a 61-minute journey. Some Emperor fans expecting more of the bombastic black metal Tchort's previous group was known for were taken aback by how melodic the majority of the vocals were, but the majority of listeners who discovered this album were very pleased at the effortless synergy the band attained by mixing different melodic metal and rock styles with occasional folk-music twinges.
1. Sleep – Jerusalem
Meant to be the band's debut for major-label London Records, the record would be shelved after its initial recording in 1996 before being officially released three years later by indie metal label The Music Cartel.
Apparently the executives at London Records got cold feet about releasing an album consisting of one single 52-minute track that took about seven minutes to get beyond a single droning riff, and even then didn't get that much beyond that. Sleep would break up after all of this went down, with guitarist Matt Pike going on to form High On Fire and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros going to form Om. During this time period, Jerusalem would gain notoriety as a cult classic through bootleg releases, before finally being issued by The Music Cartel in 1999. Four years later in 2003, an even longer 63-minute cut of the song would be released by stoner/psychedelic rock label Tee Pee Records under the appropriate name Dopesmoker.
Sleep returns to Los Angeles for a proper headlining show this Sunday night at The Wiltern, with openers Harvey Milk and Premonition 13, the new outfit featuring legendary vocalist Wino. This time around kids in High On Fire and Sleep t-shirts will not have to stand around confused, bored, and pissed off for hours on end during sets by non-metal acts like Best Coast and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, waiting to get their low-end rumble on. The band's lurching sound combined with The Wiltern's cave-like acoustics should make for one of the most aurally punishing shows of the year.
There has yet to be any confirmation as to whether Sleep will play Jerusalem/Dopesmoker in its entirety on this tour, but if they do, kick back and relax, and prepare to bang your head slowly for the next hour.