Yesterday I posted a short piece on Holy Mountain, a three-piece from Glasgow, Scotland. I promised to post a review of their latest release, ‘Earth Measures’, an LP released through Chemikal Underground Records.
The first track, ‘Bolting Bastard’, is heavy, slow, and relentless, with a cracking riff and drums high in the mix. This is the kind stuff that makes you want to nod your head, then tap your feet, then throw reason to the wind and enter the chaos of the pit! Whilst repetition is an effective tool for Holy Mountain, they don’t just play the same old riff – the time signatures change constantly, as does the pitch; metallic touches are chucked into the mix as well. Oh, this is just great.
A brief pause and we’re into the agonisingly slow intro to ‘Great Monkey’ – which we teased yesterday in the intro feature to the Band. Bringing in chanted vocals that remind me of the righteous MC5 in their White Panther Detroit heyday, the track then tips into a mid-to-fast paced jam that again drips with Stooges/MC5 sounding guitar licks, thrilling all the way. This is pure 60s garage which flashes with images of sideburned, roll-necked pullover wearing cats rioting on the streets whilst being drenched with water cannons because THEY’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT FROM THE MAN NO MORE!!!! Then, bruised from the cops’ batons, it’s dragged screaming through a bath of 70s hard rock sheepdip, and finally attacked by a gang of modern-day metallers.
‘Gunner‘ starts as it means to go on – fast and hard. Plenty of thunderous drumming and a solid guitar riff, the vocals are followed by the most wonderful fuzzed out soloing before the whole thing topples over into out-and-out joyous riffage again. This is what Primal Scream wanted to be like when they entered their ridiculous leather trousers phase – but Holy Mountain don’t sit around posing and employing expensive producers – they just fucking DO IT!
‘Kegs‘ – The opening bars see a heavy, stoned riff repeated seemingly endlessly until a bass-driven jam is enveloped in rising, searing feedback and then submerged in a wave of slow rock that picks up speed and moves from St Vitus territory into another joyous jam that again screams authenticity – Lester Bangs would have loved these guys. This is the kind of music that would have inspired him to hammer out a glorious review on his elderly typewriter, before becoming so overwhelmed by the essential RIGHTNESS of Holy Mountain’s mission that he would have been unable to stop himself from being arrested for assault on a passer by.
‘Silent Hawk‘ is essentially instrumental, with an almost jazzy bass and guitar duel going on. The vocals on all songs, where indeed they exist, are more of an instrument themselves. Make no mistake, this band concentrates on three things – guitars, bass and drums. What more could you need, when they combine to create a heavenly flavour such as this? A crunching, simple riff climbs and falls with such abandon that it knocks the plaster off the ceiling of the room below, and makes my head spin, even though I’m sitting down at my desk! And it then goes on to do this not just for four minutes, but for a totally out-of-control nine minutes. It’s the soundtrack to the best night of your life, with your best pals, gallons of beer, rocking music and a haze of sweet-smelling smoke, where you don’t have to get up and go to work in the morning.
And finally, all to soon, the bass intro to the final track, ‘Swifty Fuckwit, Parts 1 and 2‘ kicks in, soon followed by guitar and drums to whip up a rock’n’roll storm that begins to sound like AC/DC played by The Guess Who after a night of magic mushrooms and listening to early Motorhead! Thrills increase as the song breaks out into total freakout mode, causing everybody to shake their heads and wave their arms without a care in the world. A brief, feedback laden pause allows them to catch their breath, before the incorruptibly righteous spirit of rock causes Holy Mountain to jam a downtuned, heavy section that causes flashes of Sleep’s ‘Dopesmoker’ to appear before my eyes, which might now be bleeding.
There are not many records released that have the cleansing power of this short LP. When Lester Bangs wrote his legendary soliloquies on the essential righteousness of the Rock and Roll spirit, he did so against a backdrop of post McCarthyite American society. Luckily for us, his natural Pagan insight allowed him to see through the grand facade and this caused him to realise that such mindless repression and conformity was not aligned to the human spirit, and thus drove him to stand up and shout ‘BULLSHIT!’. Those around him looked on, outwardly horrified, yet secretly impressed as he feverishly chronicled the new rock and roll aesthetic.
We now have so much more to contend with – a tidal wave of bland, meaningless, insincere and tasteless reality TV, high voiced, skinny jeaned boys and girls simpering in front of cynical media whores, a complete betrayal of what we know to be natural, real and right. But here, Holy Mountain, seeing the world with rare clarity, have picked up the primal instruments at hand, and have made the case for A GOOD TIME with sincerity. If you have a pure heart and a living soul, then you have to buy and listen to this album!