Southern Lord was working on a remastered version of Sleep's seminal stoner-doom album Dopesmoker. For what should be obvious reasons, the album is a classic, and I had to think that a remaster would only clean up something that didn't need cleaning up, trying to fix something that was by no means broken.
Fucking hell, was I wrong. I still don't think the original sounds bad, but this remaster sounds absolutely perfect in every way. It's not too clean at all - it still has that dirty, sludgy feeling it has always had, but in this case, it's (somehow) even heavier than the original. (By original, I'm referring to the version that came out on Tee Pee, not the others, and certainly not the bullshit Jerusalem version.) It's clearer, louder, and so fucking heavy. Did I mention that? I'll say it a thousand times, this is as heavy as anything. Even though I like the original, the improvement here stands to reason, given all the issues with getting this album put out in the first place. This edition is the definitive edition, and it has never sounded so great. This is how this album was supposed to be, and I give the band and label credit for getting this done. Get it in a variety of packages, including several vinyl options, here. (This review is based on the CD, so imagine how glorious the vinyl pressings must sound.)
I don't write about a whole lot of stoner metal, because there's a lot of real horrible shit out there. The genre as a whole has really, really gone stagnant. Bands find ten decent riffs and there, they've got a record. There are no standards in the genre anymore. But for fuck's sake, if you're going to make a stoner-doom album, fucking do it right. Dopesmoker is your standard; there is no other. This is what every stoner-metal album should aspire to. If you're not trying to make something as good as this, then fuck off, because you don't matter; this is it.
The fucking monolith.