Stoner Metal

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Stoner Metal is a sub-genre of metal music that rose into prominence in the early 1990's, pioneered by bands such as Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Sleep, as well as the grunge band Soundgarden. The genre is known for it's fusion of the sludgy riffing of doom metal, the fuzzy distortion of psychedelic rock, and various other styles of music such as blues rock and southern rock.

The origins of the genre is often attributed to early metal bands like Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer. The former's Master of Reality album of 1971 was especially influential in the development of the genre, sometimes even being cited as the first stoner metal album. Space Rock pioneers Hawkwind are also noted to have a substantial impact on the genre, with many stoner rock and metal bands taking elements from space rock. Stoner Metal pioneers Monster Magnet covered Hawkwind's "Brainstorm" on their 1993 album Superjudge. Hardcore punk is also sometimes cited as influencing the genre, with Kyuss's Josh Homme and John Garcia stating Black Flag's My War album of 1984 as having an impact.

Some stoner metal bands took more from blues rock and southern rock, and blended it with their own take on the stoner sound. Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch are among these acts, with the former starting out as a crossover thrash/hardcore punk band in the 80's before bringing in a southern/stoner sound on their 1991 album Blind. Speaking of hardcore, bands such as High on Fire and Kylesa are often considered stoner-sludge metal due to their common usage of hardcore punk elements.

Stoner-doom metal: Stoner doom was pioneered by bands such as Sleep and Cathedral, who started their careers playing traditional doom metal. While much of stoner metal takes influence from doom metal, stoner doom puts more emphasis on said influence. Notable examples include Sleep's Dopesmoker, Cathedral's The Carnival Bizzare, Electric Wizard's Dopethrone, and Acid King's Busse Woods. Some stoner doom releases are placed under doom if there is more of a focus on doom than a balance between the two.

Stoner Rock, while having much in common with it's metal offshoot, has less of a focus on the metal aspect of the sound and is included in the Hard Rock sub-genre on MMA.

- Biography written by Unitron.

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with Doom Metal and Drone Metal):
  • Nightfly (leader)
  • MorniumGoatahl

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4.42 | 39 ratings
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stoner metal Music Reviews

PRESSOR Twist the Bliss

Single · 2020 · Stoner Metal
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Kev Rowland
St. Petersburg’s most famous sludge stoner band are back with a two-track single, released in May 2020. The band have now been settled as a quartet for the last few years, and the line-up is Stas Vasilev (synths, guitars, vocals), Anton Khmelevskiy (guitar), Denis Zarutsky (bass) and Daniil Kornev (drums). The two songs may only total 12 minutes in length, but it is more than enough to hear that Zarutsky has really settled into the band and they are taking their sludge and stoner influences and moving it more into krautrock and space rock. It is incredibly dark, heavy bottom end, with synths creating yet more layers as opposed to bringing in light. This is powerful stuff and one can only hope that as it has already been two years since the last album, this heralds they will soon be back with their next long player. Fans of intense distorted and very heavy music would do well to seek this out.

SHEAVY The Electric Sleep

Album · 1998 · Stoner Metal
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voila_la_scorie
It was while I was searching for heavy metal bands from Newfoundland and Labrador that I discovered Sheavy. One listen from "The Electric Sleep" and I was sure this was a band worthy of shelling out for a couple of discs at least. The problem was that actually buying CDs meant going to Discogs and looking for near mint if not mint. And hey, I found some!

According to the Wikipedia article about this band, this, their second album, saw a big improvement from the debut, and the band went over to Europe (not so far from St. John's, actually) to play and promote their music. Critics who heard the album were divided, with some claiming that this was a long lost Sabbath album and others putting down Sheavy as Sabbath clones at best. Now, I recently started to become of the opinion that nearly every stoner and doom metal band had to have Black Sabbath's "Master of Reality" played on daily rotation several hours at a time from their day of birth until they were teens just to ensure total and absolute indoctrination into how to create stoner and doom metal. However, I do contend that Sheavy's music is largely not Sabbath-like. Yes, there are a few riffs on this album the have the Tony Iommi call of doom feeling, but many other riffs seem to go a different route. I think the drumming and bass work is also more like what you'd hear from a band experimenting with the sounds and music rather than emulating it.

So we've got some really cool, heavy riffs and a band that sounds very comfortable in their own corner of the stoner rock arena. But those vocals! Man, if Ozzy just put his vocals through a filter that made them more scratchy - like Greg Lake's vocals in "21st Century Schizoid Man" - well then he'd sound just like Steve Hennessy. It's really uncanny how similar Steve sounds like classic Ozzy. On the second track, "Velvet", his voice is a little different because it's an acoustic track with a retro electric guitar sound and bass guitar that make the song sound like it's from 1969. But the rest of the album, man, Steve really could be mistaken for Ozzy.

One unusual thing is in the track "Oracle" which features a didgeridoo throughout the song. I've heard didgeridoos on other albums as an intro instrument (I think Cryptopsy has a song like that) but never used for an entire track, in this case 6:50 long!

This album is really for people who dig that slow and heavy atmosphere of stoner metal bands, but it doesn't feature any of those really low-toned, dragged out, over-distorted guitars like some bands have. Sheavy keeps the riffs moving. Some songs are a little less exciting. I mean, they start off cool and easy and bring in a bit of tension, but then they take time to really go anywhere. When they do, it's a sweet killer riff and sometimes a contrasting change of tempo. But then the song soon ends. That and the dense production sound are my only real criticisms of the album. Basically, it's a great 1990's, stoner metal album for when you're in the mood. But as I understand it, the band's sound evolved over the years and so I had to check out at least one more album...

BLACK WIZARD Livin' Oblivion

Album · 2018 · Stoner Metal
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voila_la_scorie
I grew up with a view from my living room window overlooking the Fraser River and the City of New Westminster on the other side. It sure was a surprise years later to learn that Devin Townsend, who is a year younger than me, was born in and grew up in New West. I looked out at his home town nearly every morning for many years. New Westminster was where I did a year of collage (the collage appeared in an episode of 21 Jump Street with Johnny Depp running down the concourse steps), where I sometimes went to buy old magazines or snoop for photography books in the library, and where John Ritter went coasting down 6th Avenue on a bicycle at the end of the TV movie version of Stephen King's "It".

Now the name New Westminster crops up again as it is where Black Wizard are from. Yay, New West! I remember when they installed speakers to play classical music outside the train station in an effort to keep the skids and rockers from hanging out below the Sky Train where they allegedly traded drugs. New West became a bit of a tough town in the 80's, and if I recall correctly, the Hell's Angels rented a house there after the police chased them out of my home town in the 70's.

But on to Black Wizard! The band is a bit tough to pigeonhole. Basically, they are of the stoner metal variety, perhaps more from selected tracks of the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage era of Black Sabbath. The vocals sound a bit like Ozzy in Symptom of the Universe only increased in power by 5 and bolstered with a volatile concoction of toxic gases that, when released, sound like that grumpy dude at the end of the street flipping his lid over having to tell the neighbourhood kids one too many times to stay the fuck out of his fruit trees!

The band does a pretty good job of playing somewhere along the lines of stoner metal with doom riffs on a track or two and a couple of songs charging along not quite like thrash metal but good and derailingly fast like some Anvil songs.

The album shows an appreciable diversity in the tracks, enough so that it's possible to recognize most of them after a few listens, but still keep to the main theme of the music. It's all pummel and thump throughout most of the album.

Listening to it tonight with my reviewer's cap on, there were certain tracks to stand out like the title track, "Portraits" for it's less-than-super-fast thrash feel, "Heavy Love" and the closer "Eternal Illusion" which has a great Sabbath-esque riff to it.

I like this album enough that I am interested in checking out their previous release, "New Waste" (a play on New West, I wonder?). Pretty darn good, solid hitting, heavy album.

SLO BURN Amusing the Amazing

EP · 1997 · Stoner Metal
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siLLy puPPy
California’s Mojave desert was the epicenter for all things stoner rock in the 90s with bands like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and ZUN as well as the beginning of the collaborative project called The Desert Sessions which started in Joshua Tree, CA in 1997 however for all the bands that came from the Palm Desert and Palm Springs region, they had seemed to rotate around members that were in Kyuss.

SLO BURN is yet another of this long list of post-Kyuss projects, this one being former lead singer John Garcia along with Kyuss producer Chris Goss. SLO BURN wasn’t exactly prolific. Technically this band that included Garcia on vocals, Chris Hale on guitar, Damon Garrison on bass and Brady Houghton on drums only released this sole EP titled AMUSING THE AMAZING. The original EP which emerged in 1996 shortly after the breakup of Kyuss only featured four tracks that just missed the 16 minute mark.

Later unofficial releases would be released as the self-titled SLO BURN would feature five more tracks lifted from the earlier five track demo and released together as complete works sort of unit however only the four original tracks on this EP are of professional quality however “Cactus Jumper” was re-recorded and ended up on Garcia’s 2014 solo album. Although the band had the good fortune to find themselves on the 1997 Ozzfest tour, SLO BURN actually burned out quite quickly and never released anything other than this EP.

As can be expected, SLO BURN sounded a lot like the later Kyuss releases that preceded AMUSING THE AMAZING. John Garcia’s vocals are quite distinct and are the most obvious connection however Chris Hale’s guitar work is reminiscent of many of the stoner rock bands of the 90s as well as the production of Chris Goss however Kyuss’ music was much more densely packed with a glitzier production value and SLO BURN opted to craft a raw and more direct form of stoner rock that relied on simple melodies with a bluesy alternative rock undertone.

Overall this is a decent slice of dessert stoner rock / metal which fits right in as the next step in the Kyuss universe however SLO BURN isn’t as captivating as classic albums from Kyuss. This is definitely stripped down with the emphasis on the rawness as opposed to the sophisticated layering effects that add more psychedelic weirdness. It’s apparent that SLO BURN truly could’ve been the next step for Garcia but he moved on and joined another short-lived band Unida. The four tracks on the original EP are all pretty good but not of Kyuss quality whereas the remaining demo bonus tracks on the unofficial releases are decent but not really overly exciting. SLO BURN was a brief layover for Garcia and will surely appeal to diehard Kyuss fans.

ORANGE GOBLIN Rough & Ready, Live & Loud

Live album · 2020 · Stoner Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
A lot of bands seem to be delaying their new albums due to the whole COVID19 crisis that has been going on in 2020 at time of writing. Luckily other bands are filling the gap with B-Sides collections, new singles, and in the case of cult British Stoner Metal band Orange Goblin, fantastic live albums.

Rough And Ready Live And Loud is the second live album from ‘Goblin and comes hot on the heals of the touring for 2018’s superb The Wolf Bites Back album.

Now, I must confess, I am a relatively new Orange Goblin fan. I saw them live supporting Down in about 2012 at my first concert since I had moved to a new city and was in a weird phase of not really enjoying anything and so although I thought they were decent, I wasn’t in the mood to explore more. However, luckily I caught them live again a year or two ago supporting C.O.C and was blown clean away. Singer Ben Ward is such a charismatic dynamo of a singer, who revs the crowd up like nobody’s business, with such a fun attitude that I was instantly converted, and have been using all the Birthdays and Christmases ever since to go back through their back catalogue and get all their records.

Have you heard the phrase ‘’it does what it says on the tin’’ ?. Well, lets just say that Rough & Ready, Live & Loud really is an appros pos title. The production and recording style of this album is fuzzy, dirty and absolutely perfect for Stoner Rock/Metal fans. The bass tone is to die for. It isn’t too smoothed out or polished, but it isn’t too tiny, tinny and kvlt to be listenable. It feels live and sweaty, like you’re really there.

The setlist focuses a lot on the band’s three newest albums. There’s bouncy catchy moments like ‘Sons of Salem’ and ‘The Filthy And The Few,’ there’s Motorhead-leaning fast tracks like ‘The Devil’s Whip’ and ‘Renegade’ and there’s some slower stuff like ‘Mystical Knives.’

That’s not to say that it’s all new material. There’s some material from most of their albums. ‘Some You Win, Some You Lose’ from Thieving From The House Of God. Some older tracks like ‘Made Of Rats’ from Coup De Grace, ‘Shine’ and the Title Track from Time Traveling Blues and ‘Sauruman’s Wish’ from the debut album Frequencies From Planet Ten. Basically; the only albums not represented are The Big Black and Healing Through Fire.

The album artwork is really clever too, featuring images from many of the band’s previous records combined together in one image that looks like it was supposed to be that way anyway. Its fitting with the album’s subtitle, ‘25 Years Of British Rock & Heavy Metal.’

Since it is in essence a 25 year retrospective that covers most of their records in some form or other, this album would be a fine introduction for any new fans, and if you are an existing fan, all the new material gives you something different from their last live record.

I highly recommend this album. The performances on here are absolutely electric, the drums slam, the guitars crunch, the slower moments are nice and trippy, the guitar leads are blazing and when the tempo speeds up the aforementioned frontman bubbles with excitement. It’s a very uplifting record that oozes with fun. You can almost feel the sticky venue floor beneath your feet. They released a music video for this album’s version of ‘The Devil’s Whip’ which I’d recommend you try out if you want to see if this live album, or even if this band, are your cup of tea.

[Side note: If you haven’t heard the band before; but like bands like Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, Nebula, Sheavy or Sleep, or indeed bands like the aforementioned Down and C.O.C, but also love Motorhead or like it when Stoner music goes fast (like High On Fire when they step on the gas pedal) then I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy Orange Goblin].

stoner metal movie reviews

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY Live Volume: The Movie

Movie · 2001 · Stoner Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Corrosion Of Conformity’s Live Volume: The Movie was recorded live in Detroit at the Harpo's venue and released in 2001. This was the band’s first and to date only live DVD and captures the band live in support of their America’s Volume Dealer album from 2000. Jimmy Bower, who plays alongside Pepper Keenan in the fantastic Phil Anselmo fronted super group Down, provides the drums for this live concert as the band were in between losing and reuniting with long time Drummer and founding member Reed Mullin.

The band really hammer home a strong and confident performance, aided by Bower’s fine drumming. Each member puts in a good show, the guitars are big and heavy as they should be, the bass really stands out and Pepper’s vocals stand up very well in the live environment.

The setlist is strong, concentrating mostly on the band’s Pepper Keenan era material. Standout tracks include ‘Wiseblood,’ and ‘King Of The Rotten’ as well as the big hits like ‘Clean My Wounds,’ and ‘Albatross,’ which go down a storm live.

The sound mix is pretty great, really conveying the heaviness and southern edge to some of the riffs and letting you hear what each member is doing perfectly for most of the duration.

In terms of camera work and visuals the DVD is also pretty successful and it has certainly aged better than some of the concert DVDs that were released around that era, some of which are now feeling comparatively dated.

If any complaint were to be leveled at this Live DVD it would be that the editing is perhaps a little overenthusiastic, there is a lot more double-exposure than one would expect, things brake into slow motion at unexpected points and there is sometimes a seeming desire to get across how much fun the fans are having, even at the expense of the visuals.

If you can forgive this one flaw then there is a lot to enjoy about C.O.C’s Live Volume: The Movie and I would highly recommend it.

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