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Sleep’s Holy Mountain “pushes itself out into space” from the warm primordial ooze of the fathomless imagination of this hasheeshian entity made manifest through distortion and the undying rhythm of reality. Combine this sound with a fearless and uninhibited musical ethos and the sheer will of these three musicians to ride their riffs deep into the expanses of a shared and exclusive internal cosmos, and what you get is pure artistic intention, preserved via analog for our listening pleasure.
“Dragonaut” blasts us off into this red-eyed universe far away from the mundane and banal earth of trivialities and meaningless routine shite. If you have ever seen the movie Gummo, “Dragonaut” sets the musical score as the two quasi-humanoid beings on bicycles propel themselves into the void that is that movie. Needless to say, this is one of the best and weirdest movies ever conceived, and splicing it with the otherworldliness of Sleep, even if it is just for that one MASSIVE riff, is some of the stoniest entertainment available to mankind. All of these songs are lyrically fantastic, traversing mythic realms of infinity and outer space until you are incinerated “Inside the Sun.” The guitar of Matt Pike has low end crunch to be fucking reckoned with, and Sleep’s pentatonic and heaving blues riffology tends to have a hypnotic effect upon the unsuspecting listener. The rhythm section of Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius is interwoven seamlessly as an eternal knot, breathing and undulating with the same might of the great old ones.
All of these songs are pretty much equally good, as they were all seemingly divinatory of the same cosmic channel of combined inspiration and determination. “Some Grass” is just a fun diddly separating the two titans that are “Evil Gypsy/Solomon’s Theme” and “Aquarian,” the latter finding you “trapped in a world under leagues of ocean.” There is truly no better lyric that could describe the weight of the riffage found in this bludgeoning, bong-ripping beast. I personally don’t listen to this album without smoking. This band and its music are the embodiment of the ancient sacrament and its holy ritual of divination of the imagination. Yes, the influences are obvious, but sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. And Sleep says it with the guttural confidence of axe-wielding brutes, stoned and free to rule the riff-filled land.
“Look unto the rays of the new stoner sun rising” and issue in the rise of the Holy Mountain. This song is heavy as the balls of the gods, and the way they transition from the creeping desolation of the clean guitar interlude to the tidal wave of devastation that this title track becomes is simply masterful. “Inside the Sun” has some of the only fast riffing on this album, but fear not, my fellow weedians, inside is a land of anachronistic molten sludge that will flatten any memory of earth. Indeed, it’s the slow and depressive dirges here that make Holy Mountain the infernal temple of the stoner. That said, being stoned does not always mean being happy. Sometimes, weed will awaken a hate deep within, a hate so undeniable and pure that it will not be restrained. So you pick up a guitar and you play those fucking blues, man. Bands like Sleep and Electric Wizard use weed to amplify their innermost feelings of animosity or alienation in the form of bone-crushing heavy metal, regardless of how you wanna categorize it.
“From Beyond” and the instrumental “Nain’s Baptism” are monstrous downers that end this album in the heaviest possible fashion. Both of these skull splitters make clear the aforementioned desire to destroy, as they plod forth with all the heaviness of the elders. So fill your pipe and light up, as demonstrated on the back cover of this Holy Mountain, and ride the shockwaves that rattle the earth below with these hymns of doom.