Sleep
Sleep's Holy Mountain


4.5
superb

Review

by PsychicChris USER (177 Reviews)
November 8th, 2017 | 8 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: While Sleep is more obvious about their roots than their fellow forebears, they still pushed the stoner doom genre to previously unexplored frontiers.

As someone who is both a fan and musician in the doom metal scene, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people critique a given band with a dismissive “that sounds like Sabbath.” Iommi and friends are obviously the most influential band in heavy metal history and there are plenty of stoner groups that contribute nothing but “Hole in the Sky” rewrites, but such assertions always feel like superficial tags applied to any hard rock that is vaguely slow and groovy. Groups like Trouble, Saint Vitus, and Candlemass were unambiguously inspired by Master of Reality and Sabotage, but they pushed the boundaries of darkness, melancholy, and tempo to extremes never realized or even attempted by the downtuned blues Brummies.

So I should hate Sleep for their blatantly intentional Black Sabbath homages, right" I mean “Dragonaut,” this album’s opener and the band’s best known song, is basically the verse riff from “Lord of This World” and the opening riff from “A National Acrobat” glued together and bookended by a bunch of aimless lead guitar and bass wah. Yet something about it still feels original. There are probably as many bands ripping off “Dragonaut” nowadays as there are that Xerox their dads’ copies of Paranoid. While Sleep is more obvious about their roots than their fellow forebears, they still pushed the stoner doom genre to previously unexplored frontiers.

For starters, Sleep’s songwriting method is much looser and more interpretative than Sabbath’s ever was. The first six Sabbath albums often utilized unorthodox structures and random tempo shifts but there was always some grounded riff or vocal line they could fall back on after a while. Sleep’s structures tend to be more fluid and atmospheric; you have songs like “Inside the Sun” and “Aquarian,” where tempos are constantly shuffled about, next to songs like the title track and “From Beyond,” where the musicians will ride and develop a single riff for minutes on end.

Going along with that, the band format has its own set of tweaks. Seeing how Sleep was operating as a trio to Sabbath’s quartet (quintet if you count the string of keyboardists hiding backstage), the riffs and instrumental sequences have even more prominence as there is no frontman constantly demanding attention. But while bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros has a tenth of Ozzy’s charisma and his vocal lines often seem construed as afterthoughts compared to Matt Pike’s domineering guitar work, his voice has more substance than he lets on. He proves to be surprisingly adaptable as “Dragonaut” features his signature chanting tenor, while other tracks like “Evil Gypsy/Solomon’s Theme” put in a harsher bellow. Add in the flimsy yet firm foundation set by drummer Chris Hakius and you’ve got a lineup that earns its own set of wannabes.

Finally, the atmosphere and lyrics on Sleep’s Holy Mountain have also become their own clichés separate from Sabbath. “Into the Void” may have ‘rocket engines burning fuel so fast’ and “Iron Man” has its titular character ‘turned to steel in the great magnetic field,’ but those stories had real world subtexts; we never see how the Iron Man transformed or what the astronauts found in said Void. Sleep takes the ideas a step further; reality is completely forsaken in favor of escapist stoner fantasies that detail space dragons, reptile masters, and magic potions. Geezer Butler may have penned the most famous odes to weed and cocaine but when your friendly neighborhood stoner band writes the ten millionth tune about Puff the Magic Dragon, leave him out of it.

Sleep’s Holy Mountain may be the poster boy for the “sounds like Sabbath” stoner doom movement but there is no reason why it shouldn’t be seen as a distinct monolith in itself. The trio’s uniqueness is more obviously displayed on the infamous Dopesmoker and spinoff bands like Om and High on Fire, but their second full-length is something special thanks to a tripped out approach sustained by memorable riffs and stunning performances. Now if we could just get that long-awaited fourth album sometime soon, that’d be swell…

Highlights:
“Dragonaut”
“Aquarian”
“Holy Mountain”
“From Beyond”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com



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user ratings (763)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
BenjoJames (4)
"Sleep's Holy Mountain" is easily the best Black Sabbath album since "Sabotage" was released....

O.J. Simpson (5)
Sleep's Holy Mountain > Dopesmoker...

Timeizillmatic9 (4.5)
An underground metal classic...

any14doomsday (3.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
bloc
November 8th 2017


44429 Comments


Man I haven't heard this in a long time, gotta change that

Digging: Beastmilk - Climax

Confessed2005
November 8th 2017


3909 Comments


Not really heard much from this band. This review has peaked my curiosity so gonna have to check this at least.

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

Ocean of Noise
November 8th 2017


9774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This review has peaked my curiosity




piqued*****



Awesome album though and nice review! Have a pos.





Digging: Burzum - Filosofem

upintheair
November 8th 2017


214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Not really heard much from this band. This review has peaked my curiosity so gonna have to check this at least."



Please do, album is fantastic.

Digging: Cannibal Corpse - Red Before Black

budgie
November 8th 2017


3647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"This review has peaked my curiosity"



yesssssssssssssssssss.

Ocean of Noise
November 8th 2017


9774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

piqued**********

MrButterfingers
November 10th 2017


112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm at peak peaked interest.

budgie
November 11th 2017


3647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the 90's piqued with this album



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