Sound — 9
"Sleep's Holy Mountain" is the second album by the classic stoner band who's main influence is the early works of Black Sabbath. It has a very do-it-yourself garage type feel to the recording which is a great antidote to the very polished sound of contemporary bands at the time which harks back to the first Black Sabbath record, and also Monster Magnet's "Spine of God" and Kyuss' "Blues for the Red Sun." The drums and bass lead the huge riffs, between which are liberally scattered Matt Pike's trademark guitar solos. There's not too much variety, though "Dragonaut" features a great bass solo with envelope filter and "Some Grass" is a guitar break reminiscent of Tony Iommi's "Orchid" and "Embryo" from Sabbath's "Masters of Reality." Overall the record sounds like a claustrophobic underground metal gig permeated with pot smoke.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are pretty abstract to say the least, with Dio-inspired dragons and mentions of a druid (referencing Sabbath's drug dealer in "The Wizard") and with the bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros' voice being treated with effects it's clear the vocals are intended more as an additional instrument than to give any clear direction as to the meaning of the songs. The record is compelling listening nonetheless, and there's certainly variety in the vocal style through the album.
Overall Impression — 10
"Sleep's Holy Mountain" is one of the big three stoner records, and compares favourably with the work of Kyuss and Monster Magnet, as well as being a great record for fans of the Sleep members later bands High On Fire and Om. I think it works best as a party album or a driving record. The three musicians are highly skilled individually, and together they've crafted what I consider to be a metal masterpiece.