Upon listening to SLEEP’s “Holy Mountain,” three things become clear. First, the members of SLEEP like BLACK SABBATH. Second, the members of SLEEP like weed and third, the members of SLEEP seem to also really like the sun, seeing as it’s mentioned in the lyrics of every song except for “The Druid.” Pure Ozzy-era SABBATH worship, with a hazy stoned sound and fantasy-inspired lyrics. You might think that with this formula all you’re going to end up with is second-rate imitation, but what you get is quite the opposite: “Holy Mountain” is a classic Stoner/Doom album.
Every song is a blissful riff fest, courteous of Matt Pike (HIGH ON FIRE), with one awesome SABBATHian riff after the other. The band doesn’t draw the line at their SABBATH inspiration, however - in terms of heaviness these riffs for the most part crush SABBATH into dust. Droning and grooving, the guitar at times rings out pure Doom and at others swings into Stoner territory. The only break comes in “Some Grass,” a short bluegrass-ish instrumental that allows you to stand up briefly before “Aquarian” stomps you back down. Vocally, Al Cisneros (OM) goes back and forth from a laid back, smooth and hypnotic voice to a rough shout. The former vocal style dominates most of the album, which itself is still mostly instrumental and compliment the music perfectly. The combination of super heavy riffs and hypnotic vocals works to great effect, especially on opener “Dragonaut.” I’ll go on the record and say that this might just be the best Stoner/Doom song ever recorded.
Sadly, SLEEP is an often overlooked band, never really getting the recognition amongst Metal fans that they really deserve. It’s a shame that they are no more, especially after dropping such classics as this album and the monolithic “Jerusalem/Dopesmoker.” Anyone into the first six BLACK SABBATH albums, Stoner/Doom Metal, or traditional Doom in the vein of SAINT VITUS or COUNT RAVEN would be wise to check out this album. SLEEP is an awesome band - don’t let them fall further into the pits of Metal obscurity! (Online August 19, 2005)