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

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stoner metal Music Reviews

MISS LAVA Sonic Debris

Album · 2016 · Stoner Metal
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ElNapalmo
"Sonic Debris" is the third studio album of Portuguese rockers Miss Lava. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to listen to "Red Supergiant", so I can not compare and comment on musical evolution. However the sound seems to have changed a little since the 2009 debut "Blues For The Dangerous Miles" and the evolution is notorious. The new sound of Miss Lava is spontaneous, strong and above all, more appealing. The influences are still there, but the band has managed to create their own identity and, although the disc is heterogeneous enough to keep the listener interested, it is perfectly cohesive. "Sonic Debris" was produced by Fernando Matias along with the band itself, mixed by Benny Grotto (Slapshot, Sasquatch, Lo Pan) in Boston, and mastered by Chris Goosman (Greenleaf, Acid King, Wo Fat, Night Stalker), in Chicago. In total there are 10 tracks that sum up to 50 minutes. It will surely please fans of Kyuss, Corrosion Of Conformity, Monster Magnet, Soundgarden, Clutch or Fu Manchu. Rock is alive in Portugal and it is recommended.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY Blind

Album · 1991 · Stoner Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Blind is a very interesting and unique record within the C.O.C discography both historically and musically. A transitional record for a band who have had several very distinct and separate sounding periods and musical-directions over the years.

In the ’80s C.O.C were a raw, gnarly Hardcore Punk band (but with Sabbathy doomy tracks here and there too) and gained more and more Thrash influence with each release. In the 2012-2015 one of the earlier line-ups reformed but made more sludgy stonery Metal. The band are most famous however for their 1990s period especially the fan favourite Deliverance and Wiseblood albums which saw them add in Southern Rock, Groove Metal and Stoner Rock elements together into one big melting pot resulting in some of the best music of all time (real top 100 albums to hear before you die type stuff, seriously, if you don’t own those two albums yet, drop what you are doing and explore!).

In 1991 however, C.O.C had an interesting and one-off change of pace, direction and line up. Usual bassist and occasional singer Mike Dean was out (he’d be back again) replaced by Phil Swisher. Karl Agell joins the band and takes the mic, about their fifth singer alreay. For the first time guitarist Woody Weatherman finds himself in company as a second guitarist is added to the line-up, a big step in changing their sound from ramshackle Punk flavour to something else, something more metallic. That guitarist was none other than Pepper Keenan. Pepper of course being famous not only as the guitarist in supergoup Down nowadays, but also the band leader and singer of C.O.C for their most famous and beloved work in the ’90s.

Well, all that history and line-up information is certainly interesting, but it really doesn’t give you any guide as to what this particular record sounds like and if you’ll like it or not. Let me ask you a few questions. Do you like Chaos AD? Do you like Burn My Eyes? Do you like Vulgar Display Of Power? Do you like Cleansing? …if so then you’ll probably love Blind too!

The music is a far cry from the early Hardcore Punk and Crossover Thrash directions. It has yet to gain the Stoner Rock vibes, bounciness or Southern Rock influences that meshed into the sound of their most famous stuff. It is a strange pure perfect early Nineties Metal record. The intro and outro tracks are noisy-ass Doom-sounding sludgy dirges; otherwise however, the rest is a little harder to define. I know some people argue that Groove Metal or Post-Thrash or whatever you want to call it is not a real subgenre. I’ve heard this album called all sorts from Thrash (not really right) to Sludge (no…not right either) to Doom (…nope, not right either). The only one that really fits for me is Groove Metal. Take those above-mentioned four albums, Blind sits somewhere in a cross section somewhere the middle of all of them.

Karl’s vocals are James Hetfield/Chuck Billy influenced, semi-barked and semi-melodic, often very reverby and very, very well-suited to the music. The drums are very rumbly and varied. The guitar is very raw and heavy, never Slayer-fast but with a nice Thrash-style chug mixed in with hardcore fueled long ringing chords. Imagine a Supergroup that was half Black Label Society and half High On Fire trying to cover one of the deeper cuts from The More Things Change. In terms of production, it doesn’t have the warm Hard Rock ready sound of the next two records or the tinny budget-sounding job of the earlier stuff, instead it has a very distinctive early-’90s sound, the kind of thing that Pissing Razors had before the millennium. Something somewhere like Demanufacture only without the futuristic robotic vibes. Its a real charming sound.

Highlights include the ridiculously catchy single ‘Dance Of The Dead’ (Seriously; why don’t the band play this live more often!?) as well as the excellent drum-powered ‘Damned For All Time’ and of course the concert favourite ‘Vote With A Bullet’ which has the interesting point of having Pepper sing lead vocals, a hint of what was to come.

Overall; there’s no band quite like C.O.C and there’s no C.O.C release quite like Blind. If you like the band you really ought to check it out if you haven’t already, and if you don’t like the band yet but are a fan of the albums and bands that I’ve been mentioning throughout then this is a serious gap in your collection, do yourself a favour and give it a try!

ELDER Elder

Album · 2008 · Stoner Metal
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Unitron
Sadly, there are many bands that suffer from the unfortunate fate of that "sophomore slump", and never get out of it. Some bands stagnate, and some get worse. One such band that belongs to the latter, in my opinion, is Elder. While many disagree and prefer the neo-psych/prog rock styling of their recent material (their 2017 album in particular), Elder had an amazing winning sound on their self-titled debut from 2008.

This is pure distorted, fuzzed out, and groovy stoner metal at its finest. Nick DiSalvo brings somewhat of a sludgy Crowbar-esque delivery with his gruff vocal performance, but it's blended with riffs that are right out of the holy gospel of Tony Iommi. The solos are often pretty bluesy, but sound as heavy as the rest with the crushing distortion. There's an amazingly heavy bottom end, with the bass rumbling at your feet, while the drums keep a constant punch. Right at the beginning of the album, "White Walls" rises from the pit with a rumbling bassline that fire right into a stoner-doom plod. "Ghost Head" is a masterpiece of stoner metal, and probably my favorite on the album. The crash cymbal perfectly opens up the song, and the fuzzy guitar riffs groove like there's no tomorrow. DiSalvo's vocals switch from gruff to a more Floor-esque style, and really fit the somewhat bouncy groove.

The production is just what you would expect from a stoner metal album, full of powerful and punchy distortion. It's as groovy as Black Sabbath, fuzzy as Blue Cheer, and as heavy as Soundgarden. If you're looking for some great stoner metal that you may have missed over the years, this album is right up there with the best. It's a damn shame that they didn't continue with this sound, as this is absolutely killer. If this review doesn't explain enough, just try not to instantly get addicted to the blistering riffing of "Hexe" (Or the whole album for that matter). There's no need for drugs, when the music can do the work for you. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!

SPACESLUG Time Travel Dilemma

Album · 2017 · Stoner Metal
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adg211288
Just a year on from their debut album Lemanis (2016), Poland's Spaceslug, a name I can't think of without picturing Star Wars' Jabba the Hutt (which is likely in no small part due to Stars War influenced melodic black/death metal act Hoth having a song called Interstellar Gargantuan Space Slug), are back on Earth with their second cosmic offering, Time Travel Dilemma (2017).

The trio's debut album Lemanis has been described as a stoner/doom metal release and the same is more or less true of Time Travel Dilemma except that stoner metal by far outweighs the presence of any doom metal in this album and Spaceslug have really played up the psychedelic influences of the stoner genre, with sounds ranging from heavy psych to space rock. The result is a six track journey that has the heaviness of stoner/doom metal coupled with an atmospheric approach which along with softer passages of music is also reflected in the cleanly sung vocals, a role shared by all three band members, which are very much done in such a way that they're supposed to be heard as part of the overall atmosphere or as another instrument. Furthermore some vocals are spoken word/voice overs, including U.S. President John F. Kennedy's May 25th 1961 speech about putting a man on the moon during the track Parahorizon.

The whole aim of Time Travel Dilemma is obviously to take the listener on a trip and it's certainly a successful release on that front. The individual tracks, of which there are six, could perhaps stand to have more identity between them, but it's not too much of a detraction from the quality of the release as Spaceslug have produced a very enjoyable album that remains an absorbing work from start to finish, which is certainly the best way to experience their music.

CRYSTAL FAIRY Crystal Fairy

Album · 2017 · Stoner Metal
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UMUR
"Crystal Fairy" is the eponymously titled debut full-length studio album by US heavy/hard rock act Crystal Fairy. The album was released through Ipecac Recordings in February 2017. Crystal Fairy was formed in 2016 by guitarist Buzz Osborne (Melvins), drummer Dale Crover (Melvins), bassist/guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta), and lead vocalist Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes).

Stylistically the material on the 11 track, 40:15 minutes long album is heavy rock with the occasional nod towards sludge and alternative rock. The Melvins involvement is clearly heard throughout the album, and the instrumental part of the album could just as well have been the instrumental part of a Melvins album. The vocals by Teri Gender Bender make Crystal Fairy a very different sounding beast to Melvins though. She has a strong voice and a passionate and varied vocal style, which adds a lot to the music. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez normally has a very unique playing style, but I don´t hear much of his influence on the album. This has Melvins featuring Teri Gender Bender written all over it.

Not surprisingly the atmosphere of the music is often a little twisted and quirky, but overall the tracks are relatively accessible featuring regular vers/chorus structures and hooks. It´s predominantly Teri Gender Bender who is the focus of the music, but there are also some pretty great instrumental performances and Crystal Fairy are a tight yet organic playing unit. The brick heavy riffs and organic powerful drumming by the two Melvins guys push the music forward in a great hard rocking way, while Teri Gender Bender moans, wails, and sings her lungs out on top.

"Crystal Fairy" is well produced, and features a raw, powerful, and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. Upon conclusion I wouldn´t exactly call the album a revelation, but it´s a greatly entertaining release while it plays. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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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