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CD review: Holy Mountain: Ancient Astronauts (Chemikal Underground)

Holy Mountain have a rough-hewn but artisan's skill in one enduring musical product: fashioning thunking great slabs of riffage. This, their debut album proper, takes the template laid down on their excellent Earth Measures mini-album from 2012 and expands it into the longer form.

The trio specialise in riffs of all kind: repitilian sneak ones, great clunking ones, scabrous hurtling ones and, as in the superb final section of one of the best songs here, Luftwizard, relentless pile-driving riffs that raise comparisons with some of the great heavy guitar bands of the past.

Holy Mountain are metallic but not quite Metal with a captial M, there is a nimble quality to their sonic assaults and, in the chanting vocals of a psychedelic stomper such as Star Kings, a dreaminess we may not associate with nodding necks and devil finger signs.

As with all heavy guitar bands, the shadows of the past can never be quite escaped, but I hear more the influence of the Black Sabbath of the Paronoid and Master Of Reality era than more recent fads. I was hoping for some breaks in form from the constantly driving guitar work, and the album's sound may grate if you are not in the mood to completely rock-out.

The majority of Ancient Astronauts will have an extra depth of sound and attack in the live arena. It will be fascinating to watch whether this powerful trio develop into something truly interesting.

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