A word of advice: if you see a bunch of hollering, hairy Glaswegians clad in white vests and ‘70s tennis headbands hurtling towards you, probably best to scarper. If, however, they whip out guitar, bass and drums, there’s a good chance you’re about to witness one of holy mountain’s notorious, improv-heavy, live onslaughts. And you might just want to stick around…
The trio’s self-proclaimed “Gig of All Time” last year, saw them play a set spanning two Glasgow venues; spilling out of one into the street before cramming themselves, their fans and an amp (powered by a cigarette lighter) into a van which travelled across the city to a degree show afterparty, while they played continuously. And it’s this thrillingly spontaneous attitude towards shows that has seen Holy Mountain build up quite a following since they played their first gig as a two-piece back in January 2009. Now feverish devotees are chomping at the bit for any kind of release, hence Earth Measures: the band’s debut mini-album, intended to whet our appetites before they serve up a full-length offering next year.
Recorded in seventeen hours and borne from their love of Kiss, Motorhead, Rush and Iron Monkey, these six devilishly loud tracks see Holy Mountain mess with the music of their heroes smartly. As any post-metal fan will admit, the genre for the “thinking heavy riff-lover” is often a terribly serious affair, but with titles like ‘Swifty Fuckwit’ and ‘Bolting Bastard’ Holy Mountain ensure their take on it – all growling guitars and rhythm breakdowns, lengthy noodling and epic instrumentals – doesn’t fall into that category; giving Earth Measures a refreshingly unpretentious and charmingly cheeky finish.
There’s a joy, and a teetering-on-the-edge-of-insanity reckless abandon, to the delivery of this music too that is utterly infectious. When the dark and thrillingly visceral ‘Swifty Fuckwit’ kicks off, you can hear Holy Mountain shriek with excitement. And while they sound like they had the time of their lives making this mini, there’s an awe-inspiring amount of skill behind their playing too. ‘Gunner’ is as experimental as it is relentless; switching from brutal and heavy to playful and spidery solo-ing mid-track; the band deconstructing classic metal structures, skewering them, splicing them, slowing them down and then speeding them up all over again. Clever stuff.
‘Kegs’ is another highlight, building to a wild and climactic finish; and while it’s wincingly predictable to mention them in a review of this Chemikal Underground release, we can’t help but feel ‘Silent Hawk’’s dark, brooding intro has a touch of the Mogwai (ex-Chemikal Underground) about it, before it picks up pace and drags us by the hand down an altogether more menacing path. The track eventually peters out nine minutes later, but still leaves us wanting more.
Holy Mountain’s sonic amuse-bouche has done the trick, then. Earth Measures nods to the seminal glory of acts like Black Sabbath, Lightning Bolt and Isis while tantalisingly heralding the arrival of an exciting new force in noise rock. Tasty.