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:
  • Unitron
  • MorniumGoatahl

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stoner metal Music Reviews

EARTH WITCH Out of the Shallow

Album · 2017 · Stoner Metal
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Unitron
Now is a perfect time to be a stoner fan, as so many stoner rock and metal bands are popping up like crazy. Being a stoner fan, I'm very happy to see this, and many of them are retaining the old school 70's metal sound that started the whole genre. If you were to ask me who the best of these new stoner bands is though, I would probably have to say Earth Witch.

They set themselves apart with how much heart and soul they clearly have, and a real passion of classic 70's heavy metal. While many of the riffs would make Tony Iommi proud, the band has their own sound and plays some pretty beautiful leads. The band calls themselves "doom blues", which honestly couldn't be a more fitting title. The album is engulfed in a laid back blues metal vibe, but isn't afraid to crush some skulls with blistering doom riffs such as in the grand finale of "Earth Witch". Though the album is also bursting with driving riffs as heard right at the beginning with opener "Guts". The vocals will often be gravely sounding, but sometimes they're a bluesy croon in the vein of Danzig.

The best song on the album, and one of the greatest stoner songs ever written (Yes, it is that good) is easily "Butterfly". Not since Clutch's The Elephant Riders have I heard something so beautiful yet heavy from the stoner genre. The plodding murky yet melodious bassline blends perfectly with the crooning vocals, and adds that much more impact when the distortion gets cranked up to 11 and the guitar rips and the drums become colossal. The guitar leads and soloing are stunning, and let the heaviness and beauty blend right together.

Other main highlights include, the whole damn album! "Starfighter", "Lovecraft", "Riff Rider", "Green Torch", "Mermaid", "Pilgrim", it is all absolutely fantastic. Each song is among the best stoner you'll ever hear. Basically, if you want to hear beautiful melodies, singing guitar solos, punchy distorted riffs and hooks, warm and organic productions, or the aforementioned driving riffs and crushing dirges, this is essential listening.

I don't have much else to say, it is just an absolute masterpiece. If you're a stoner fan, do yourself a favor and listen to these amazing guys. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY No Cross No Crown

Album · 2018 · Stoner Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Corrosion Of Conformity have had a lot of different line-ups over the years and a few very distinct career phases. Some of the most notable and best of which are the short-lived Blind era of the very early ’90s, where Pepper Keenan and Karl Angel joined the band and wrote a very dark, yet strangely melodic mixture of Sludge Metal and Groove Metal. Then Karl left, Pepper took over somewhat and they released three brilliant mixtures of Stoner, Southern Rock and good old fashion Metal with a bunch of diverse records that had acoustic sections, interludes, ballads and speedy-ragers all mashed into one record. Their final album in that line-up (well, with a new drummer actually, but close enough…) was very Doom Metal focused. Then Pepper left, and the Trio line-up from before even the Blind era reunited but instead of making Hardcore or Crossover Thrash like they did in the ’80s; they released two Doom albums with raw punky influences.

The celebrated and arguably most popular line up (the Pepper-in-charge on from the mid 90s-early ’00s) reunited recently and toured the globe with incredible reunion shows and now the time has finally come for them to put out some new music together. Its probably one of my most anticipated albums in a very long time. What on earth could it possibly sound like? Well, the first track is a slow instrumental Sludge intro, bringing immediately to mind the Blind era. Next comes the third single, ‘The Luddite’ which is almost indistinguishable from the style on their Doom-focused In The Arms Of God album from 2005, which is interesting to hear with Reed Mullin on drums. It totally works. Speaking of that album, the creepy-ass title track here might remind you of a certain dark semi-acoustic track from there too.

Like their seminal Deliverance album, there are a few instrumental interludes and mood pieces sprinkled throughout. The first two singles, ‘Wolf Named Crow’ and ‘Cast The First Stone’ hark back to the Wiseblood sound, recalling hits like ‘Long Whip/Big America’ or ‘King Of The Rotten’ in a certain specific way that the instruments interact with each other and with the production style (by John Custer, who did Wiseblood too!) leaving the space at the end of sections and sounding very organic and Jammed-out-in-a-rehearsal-room, if you know what I mean. ‘Little Man’ has a very characterful and southern-fried sound, reminiscent of the under-rated 2000 album, America’s Volume Dealer, only without the over-polished production.

So far, so great. Towards the end, there are a also few slower, sludgy, dragged-out pieces that hearken back to both ‘Pearls Before Swine’ and ‘Bottom Feeder.’ It just wouldn’t be a C.O.C album without mixing in something slow and dirty sounding towards the end, would it now?

The overall feeling is a mixture of all the Pepper-era albums, with a warm and very earthy production. It doesn’t stand out as an immediate drop-everything, earth-shattering revelation, but it is a very welcome return (although they were never really that gone recently, and I’d still love if they threw ‘Demark Vessey’ or ‘Tarquinious Superbus’ into the setlist nowadays too!) that gets better with repeat listens. If you walk in expecting to be blown away like the first time you heard Deliverance you might be disappointed, but if you go in with realistic expectations you’ll find a very solid and rewarding album. My favourite track on the album is ‘Forgive Me’ which has a sort of Thin Lizzy vibe to its hook, but a very metallic breakdown, and Pepper’s vocals are very exaggerated and full of character like they were on ‘Volume Dealer.

To top it all off, there’s a cover of Queen’s very heavy and Sabbathy debut album deep-cut, ‘Son And Daughter’ and it really, really suits C.O.C’s sound. I remember Iron Monkey covering it in the past and it is a very suitable track for this end of the Rock & Metal spectrum. I know people imagining ‘Radio Gaga’ or ‘I Want To Break Free’ might raise an eyebrow, but Queen’s debut was a lot heavier than you remember. For Stoner, Doom or Sludge bands it is a natural fit.

In summary; without disrespecting the fine work of the trio line-up, its nice to have the four guys from Deliverance through to ‘Volume Dealer back playing together again with their unique chemistry. The album is pretty diverse, with a nice mix of fast and slow, clean and dirty, stoner and doom, sludge and hard rock, atmospheric and immediate. The production job is perfect and there’s a fairly decent proportion of the tracks would make it into any fan’s future dream setlists or best-of playlists. If you don’t immediately do a spit-take and have heart-shaped eyeballs the very first time you hear it though, don’t worry, it grows on you.

EARTH WITCH Out of the Shallow

Album · 2017 · Stoner Metal
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Vim Fuego
Metal Music Archives Reviewers' Challenge December 2017

A big problem with a lot of stoner metal is that the band gets too carried away with the stoner part and forgets the fucking metal. Not Earth Witch.

There’s plenty of Iommi/Butler/Ward worship going on here, but thankfully these guys realised it’s not compulsory to have an Osbourne too to make fucking great music. Too often stoner and doom bands ruin a perfectly good bedrock foundation by trying to top it with a screechy, tuneless Ozzy impersonator. There’s only one Ozzy, and a few good Ozz-like acolytes, and trying to create one is pointless. If you’re not born with the pipes and the moves, you’re out of luck.

So… If you want some hard assed, spazzed out stoner-not-stoned metal with riffs and grooves coming out the ass, Earth Witch is the band for you. “Lovecraft” is an outstanding rocker, cranking up the tempo, and features the rocking sort of riff 1972 was famous for. “Butterfly” is mellower, a bit of a comedown from the frenzy of the previous track. Unlike many blissed out THC tripping songs though, this track doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, and has the decency to eventually start abusing the amplifiers again.

This isn’t quite as hard and heavy as High On Fire or recent offerings from Electric Wizard, but for someone coming from a straightforward rock or metal background, it’s a reasonably gentle introduction to the genre. When I say gentle though, remember this is still fucking metal! There’s also a deep vein of blues influence flowing through this album. Check the intro to “Green Torch” for some bluesy string bending goodness, and the main riff and leads in “Mermaid”. Sure it’s a mutant kind of blues, but then that’s where ye olde metal originally came from.

Ultimately, “Out of the Shallow” offers enough fire and fury to keep metal fans interested, and provides enough of a demonstration of stoner metal’s potential to encourage further explanation. It never falls into that old trap of becoming boring for a non-weed addled mind, while also retaining enough of the psychedelic and hallucinogenic to satisfy those in a chemically altered state of mind.

ELECTRIC WIZARD Wizard Bloody Wizard

Album · 2017 · Stoner Metal
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Warthur
Having produced perhaps their heaviest post-Dopethrone release in the form of Time to Die, for this followup Electric Wizard have gone right back to the other extreme of their sound, incorporating extensive heavy psych influences. They don't go full psych, but the style of metal here is very much sat on the stoner-doom boundary, with a tone reminiscent less of Black Sabbath than it is of the various hard-edged garage rock bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Naturally, their customary subject matter hasn't changed all that much - "See You In Hell" pretty much sums up the manifesto of the album, and is called back to in a catchy chorus on the closing Mourning of the Magicians.

Certainly, this is a more accessible than average Electric Wizard - it doesn't instantly immerse you in the deepest depths of doom like Dopethrone did, nor has any Electric Wizard release been quite as toe-tappingly catchy as this one. Nonetheless, nobody could accuse this of being an especially commercial sound either. Perhaps it's simply Electric Wizard deigning to notice the wave of 1970s-worshipping horror/fantasy-reading occult rock groups who've grown up in their wake, and taking the chance to beat them at their own game. As far as I'm concerned, it's yet another essential release from them.

MELVINS A Walk With Love & Death

Album · 2017 · Stoner Metal
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Vim Fuego
Metal Music Archives Reviewers' Challenge December 2017

There are two things you can be certain of when it comes to a Melvins album. The first is that there will be big, fat, warm, fuzzy grooves within. The second is, it’s gonna be a bit fuckin’ weird too. “A Walk With Love and Death” delivers just that. In fact, this is a double album, with the “Love” disc being the soundtrack to Jesse Nieminen’s short film, “A Walk with Love & Death”, just to confuse things a little more. The “Death” disc is a more conventional Melvins album. Well, as conventional as The Melvins ever get, that is.

So… Let’s start with “Death”. “Black Heath” kicks off the album, suitably laid back, with a cool bass line, snappy drums, and a little distortion on the vocals, like a whacked out C.O.C. It is pleasant, and unchallenging, a nice way to start an album, and a nice way to lure you into a false sense of security. “Sober-delic” continues in a similar vein, like King Buzzo and the gang were particularly blissed out when they recorded this. However, the vocals are cleaner and a bit more menacing, and finally someone steps on an effects pedal, and there’s some proper amplified guitars. The pace is still pedestrian, but the song hints at heavier things to come. A dirty echoing solo pulls it all together nicely. Yep, this is sounding like The Melvins.

Third track “Eunthanasia” removes any doubt. It kicks straight in with the famous fuzzy guitar, the understated, yet powerful riffs, and the oblique lyrics. It is still a Mogadon shuffle of a song, but a screaming, discordant lead guitar scythes through it, and destroys any pretence of this being a song to nod out to.

“What’s Wrong With You?” sounds like what a long lost mutant Beatles demo might have sounded like if The Beatles had formed in Seattle in 1986. “Edgar The Elephant” and “Flaming Creature” are both reasonably typical tweaked out stoner tracks, while “Christ Hammer” has a hard edged, Clutch-esque sound with a lush psychedelic chorus as counter-point. The big, fat groove of “Cardboa Negro” ties up all the loose ends, and eventually winds down like a wind-up toy coming to the end of the kinetic energy being released from its spring.

It’s all good mind-bending, warped fun. It’s a THC trip for the non-stoner, or a picture of a hallucination for a mind firmly rooted in reality, and like any really good album, leaves you wanting more.

However, that’s as far as fuzzy grooves go. It’s time for “Love”, which has more of an ambient/incidental/experimental feel. Yes, it’s still weird, like only The Melvins can do weird, but it’s mood music, and after “Death”, the change of mood is not so much jarring as dissatisfying. It’s all well and good, and very creative and clever, but is probably better suited for a separate listening at a different time.

Anyway, how do you describe a movie soundtrack? Well, basically, this paints pictures in your mind. There’s minor confusion (“Aim High”), unsettling menace (“Queen Powder Party”), and tension building to terror (“Street Level St Paul”). Indistinct ghost in the machine voices run through the soundtrack, on the edge of conscious understanding, but remaining subliminal gibberish. “Give It To Me” pops up like a lysergic acid diethylamide version of The Monkees. “Eat Yourself Out” is a less-horrific-Throbbing-Gristle exercise in loops and noise, perhaps leaning toward something like Bastard Noise. “Scooba” is a fucked-up beatnik interlude, with a freaky jazz bassline- hey cats, bring on the reefer, the beret, and the upright double bass!

Large parts of the soundtrack eschew the more traditional instruments, instead throwing in theremin and synths, along with what is described as “assorted noise”, so fuck only knows how those sounds were made. Guitar, bass, and drums occasionally poke through, but often buried under layers of soundscape, or as incidental distortion.

The whole effect of “Love” is disturbing and compelling at the same time, but perhaps most importantly, creates a strong desire to see what the fuck is actually going on and what visuals match these sounds. It is by no means an easy listen, and not necessarily rewarding either. For most listeners, it will not get near as many repeat spins as “Death”. It is probably a good thing “Love” was attached to “Death”, because for all of The Melvin’s past exercises in weirdness and off the wall oddity, “Love” may just have been too much to handle as a stand-alone album.

So there you go. If you thought you had The Melvins nailed down, you may as well have been trying to nail a plate of spaghetti Bolognese to the wall.

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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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