Sleep-Sleep's Holy Mountain, 1993
Metal's popularity had fallen by 1993, but there was still a healthy underground in some places. Doom metal as we now know it probably started in the mid 1980's with band's like Saint Vitus, Trouble and Candlemass picking up where early Sabbath had left off. In the early 1990's even a few more bands who had grown up listening to Black Sabbath were starting to lay down some slow, heavy sludge. One of those bands was Sleep from San Francisco who were trimmed down to a trio by this their second full length album. The line-up was Al Cisneros on bass/vocals, Matt Pike on guitar and Chris Hakius on drums. This album is a bit more metal than their 1991 debut and although fairly basic at times, it would be a huge influence on the stoner and doom genres later in the decade and into this decade. Although much of the music is founded in Sabbath style from say 1970-75, there are still enough original ideas to lead one to believe that this band was building on metal's past. The vocals are at times both chaotic and fired up, but it works. The vocals and the sometimes lack of traditional metal song structure is probably what makes Sleep such an influence on stoner rock. Yet the thick guitar riffs and the pounding drums are very much doom metal. I think the biggest strength with this album might be that the band doesn't try too hard to push what they are. I think they are experimenting with their sound to some extent here. They were pushing the limits and seeing what would work so we get an album that starts with a basic slow heaviness on most songs, but they build up each track. They are also very good and doing a great deal, but still remaining somewhat subtle in their approach. Unlike a band like Cathedral who always seemed to me like they were trying too hard to be in your face. I think that Sleep's eventual peak would be the epic "Dopesmoker" in 1997, but this album was setting up the foundation for what was to come. My favorite tracks here include "Dragonaut", "Aquarian", "Holy Mountain" and "Rain's baptism". A must for fans of sludge and doom.