Sleep’s Holy Mountain: If You Can Think of a Headline Worthy of this Album, Let Me Know

You know it's new because it has the sticker, man.Let’s face it: if you’re here, on this site, there’s a good chance that Sleep classic Sleep’s Holy Mountain is at least part of the reason why.

The album stands among Black Sabbath‘s Masters of Reality and KyussWelcome to Sky Valley as one of the formative moments of stoner rock, but Sleep‘s approach was rougher, higher and had an almost punk sense Classic.of fuck-all that bled into the songs in a way that an entire generation of riffers has tried to imitate. And it’s true some have done very well at it, even going so far as to surpass Sleep in their own methodology, but like Sabbath before them, Sleep‘s legendary status is just as much due to circumstances and right-time-right-place as it is to Matt Pike‘s guitar, Chris Hakius‘ drumming and Al Cisneros‘ vocals and bass.

Sleep’s Holy Mountain was originally released in 1993, a year in which the pop mainstream was wearing flannel and hair product to make it look like it hadn’t showered in half a week. But Sleep were even dirtier. Hailing from Oakland, CA, they emerged on Earache Records with a sound that showed the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana for the polished major label fare they were. Drug metal, stoner metal, weed metal, whatever you want to call it, they were loud as fuck, bombed and unapologetic. And like a lot of great metallers, they didn’t get their due at the time.

Well, with that in mind and perhaps the notion of introducing Sleep to an audience 16 years later who might not have been there the first time around (and certainly giving completists some reason to grumble), Earache re-presents Sleep’s Holy Mountain in a digipak reissue that stays loyal to the original artwork and sound. By way of bonus material, a Sabbath cover of “Snowblind” is included, as is a Quicktime video for “Dragonaut.” And that’s it.

To me, that spells missed opportunity. How about a second disc with Sleep‘s original 1990 demo? How about a second disc with the vinyl-only 1992 Volume 2 EP that regularly goes for $100+ on eBay? How about a Also DVD from the tour they did to support the album? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take “Snowblind” and the “Dragonaut” video, even though I can watch it on YouTube (or, hell, on The Obelisk!) any time I want without having to put a disc into my computer — but man, there’s so much more that could have been done in reverence to this great album that just wasn’t. It’s kind of a bummer.

Still, if nothing else, this reissue gives the label a chance to put the record fresh into the minds of younger kids who haven’t heard it before, which can’t possibly be bad. As bands like Elder and Black Pyramid update the Sleep formula and take it down new avenues, it’s good to have a reminder of where it all comes from. The album still sounds as good as it ever did, and in listening to it again, it was cool to be reminded of deeper cuts like “Inside the Sun” and the stoner caravan from deep space of “From Beyond” that maybe don’t get the regular play of “The Druid,” and to hear the roots of High on Fire dormant in “Evil Gypsy/Solomon’s Theme” and those of Om in the title track.

Maybe you think it’s a sham, maybe you think it just rules to have the chance to buy this album again. Either way, it’s Sleep’s Holy Mountain, and there’s no argument to be made against it. Reunion tour, please.

Sleep on MySpace

Earache Records

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