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

stoner metal top albums

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ELECTRIC WIZARD Dopethrone Album Cover Dopethrone
ELECTRIC WIZARD
4.26 | 40 ratings
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SLEEP Dopesmoker Album Cover Dopesmoker
SLEEP
4.28 | 31 ratings
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CATHEDRAL The Garden of Unearthly Delights Album Cover The Garden of Unearthly Delights
CATHEDRAL
4.28 | 28 ratings
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ELECTRIC WIZARD Wizard Bloody Wizard Album Cover Wizard Bloody Wizard
ELECTRIC WIZARD
4.53 | 6 ratings
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TROUBLE Manic Frustration Album Cover Manic Frustration
TROUBLE
4.32 | 13 ratings
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SHRINEBUILDER Shrinebuilder Album Cover Shrinebuilder
SHRINEBUILDER
4.37 | 7 ratings
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DOWN Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow... Album Cover Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow...
DOWN
4.23 | 14 ratings
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THE SWORD Gods of the Earth Album Cover Gods of the Earth
THE SWORD
4.19 | 16 ratings
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DOWN Down III: Over the Under Album Cover Down III: Over the Under
DOWN
4.21 | 13 ratings
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KYUSS Welcome To Sky Valley Album Cover Welcome To Sky Valley
KYUSS
4.08 | 55 ratings
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THE SWORD Age of Winters Album Cover Age of Winters
THE SWORD
4.15 | 13 ratings
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HIGH ON FIRE Death Is This Communion Album Cover Death Is This Communion
HIGH ON FIRE
4.14 | 14 ratings
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stoner metal Music Reviews

SCHUBMODUL Lost In Kelp Forest

Album · 2024 · Stoner Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The Bochum, Germany based SCHUBMODUL (German for Sheer Modulus) was formed in 2019 and has so far released a few singles and two albums. This trio of Fabian Franke (guitar), Christoph Kellner (drums) and Nils Stecker (bass) returns two years after its debut “Modul I” with its sophomore unit LOST IN KELP FOREST which has caught my attention due to the mesmerizing album cover. This album features seven tracks and runs about 43 minutes and features a unique mix of stoner rock and post-rock.

This trio is all instrumental with the exception of spoken word radio broadcast recordings that pop in sporadically. This album is on the mellower side than i was expecting with a tag like stoner metal and the album indeed comes off more as a post-rock release with a bit of grungy guitar parts adding some serious distortion to the mix but how can it be stoner metal with a vocalist? Well somehow it is but post-rock styled stoner metal. While competent tracks as far as maintaining a flow that offers some variety, somehow it just seems like a major element of the sound is missing by having no vocalist on board.

While i wouldn’t call SCHUBMODUL neither a top tier stoner metal band nor a masterful constructor of post-rock, the band does deliver a set of pleasant stoner metal rockers that offers the classic softer intros that build up to heavier climaxes in the vein of post-rock with the expected stoner metal attributes of heavily distorted fuzz guitar with accompanying bass and drums albeit the percussion is a bit on the lazy side as it rarely does more than act as a metrometer. The tempos are generally slow but tracks like “Ascension” do ratchet the speed up to a midway point. The tones of the instruments are nice and the mixing is decently done as well but nothing ever really feels like it evolves past practice session territory.

Overall LOST IN KELP FOREST is a listenable set of stoner rock tracks that offer just enough variety to keep my interest for the album’s entirety. There’s nothing inherently bad about this album in any way but at the same time it all sounds so middle of the road and lacks any sort of vitality that would make it rise to the ranks of bands like Elder, Clutch or even Monster Magnet for that matter. Given the anonymity of the band due to the lack of vocalist, the entire album sounds a bit generic as anything with the stoner rock tag usually requires the bravado of a strong vocalist to take things to the next level. Sure the field recordings help a little but overall this album just doesn’t ever seem to take off. It truly feels LOST IN KELP FOREST and needs help finding its way to the surface.

HIPPIE DOOM SQUAD Dark Side Of Reality

EP · 2016 · Stoner Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Sometimes i gotta check out a band simply because i can’t believe a certain style of music is coming from a certain place. Take the HIPPIE DOOM SQUAD for example. This band is known for its take on Southern stoner metal mixed with groove metal, the kind of music you’d most likely expect to emerge from either the American South or given the Kyuss and Queen of the Stone Age similarities, the Palm Desert area of Southern California but neither of those regions would be correct. In fact this band came from the city of Brest in Belarus and formed in 2010. It has so far released two EPs, one split and a compilation.

This second EP titled DARK SIDE OF REALITY does not sound one bit like it came from anywhere in Europe much less the former Iron Curtain mystery nation of Belarus. Not at all. DARK SIDE OF THE REALITY in its over 22 minutes of musical mojo in the form of six songs sounds like it took a whole bunch of Queens of the Stone Age, added a bit of Pantera groove and then sprinkling of Southern metal in the form of Corrosion of Conformity, Down and Alabama Thunder Pussy and then went crazy. And while looking well beyond one’s borders for inspiration is hardly an unusual thing to do, what exactly attracts someone in Eastern Europe to the whole stoner metal / Southern metal / groove metal thing?

Well who knows but what HIPPIE DOOM SQUAD does do is deliver a convincing Southern California sound that could’ve emerged from Palm Springs, Yucca Valley or any of the other locals of everyone’s favorite Josh Homme guitar projects. In fact it’s too convincing. The vocalist sounds like a clearcut replacement for the Queens of the Stoneage only given the distant an imitation band was clearly the closest that he could muster up. In fact i wouldn’t doubt if this band was a cover band because they have absolutely nailed the whole QofSA sound perfectly. Everything about this is classic retro stoner / groove / Southern metal with the classic guitar riffs fueled with fuzz, bass and drum grooves and raspy vocal charm.

Well in the end this is too close to the original sources for me. An excellent example of a Southern metal band with all those hard blues metal riffs that make you think Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers and all things classic Southern rock but the punkish delivery system keeps you from totally going there. Very well done with a nice modern production to allow the stoner vibes to truly resonate and decently constructed songs too. The authenticity goes a long ways as well but unfortunately very much in clone territory as the stoner metal tag has so much more to offer than a simply retreading of Kyuss and related projects. Good for what it is and nice tracks that would add some exotic spice to a playlist but not something that will truly blow you away either.

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS Mantra III

Album · 1998 · Stoner Metal
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SilentScream213
As far as Stoner Metal goes, this is pretty good stuff. The genre can be rather stagnant at times, but Spiritual Beggars did a great job of crafting many unique tracks here. Each one has a little something that sets them apart, and there’s a good variety in regards to mood and tempo across the whole thing.

Euphoria is the obvious highlight. That song is almost perfect Stoner Metal. The old 60’s sounding synths add a perfect atmosphere to the track, and it’s the only one on the album that could be considered “doomy.” The lyrics are weak considering the more serious sound the music takes on, but aside from that it’s a jewel of the genre.

The rest of the album is good, but doesn’t come close to those heights. Should be very enjoyable for Stoner fans, but I’m impartial to the genre, so it sits around “good, but not great” territory.

CATHEDRAL The Garden of Unearthly Delights

Album · 2005 · Stoner Metal
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UMUR
"The Garden of Unearthly Delights" is the 8th full-length studio album by UK doom metal act Cathedral. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in September 2005. It´s the successor to "The VIIth Coming" from 2002. "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" features among other tracks, the 26:58 minutes long "The Garden". Cathedral have previously composed very long tracks (especially the 22:42 minutes long "The Voyage of the Homeless Sapien" from the 1994 "Statik Majik " EP comes to mind), but this one takes the prize as the longest track in their discography.

While it´s impossible to talk about "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" and not mention "The Garden" (which is a multi-suite track featuring many different sections and atmospheres), the album actually features 9 other tracks (and a total playing time of 70 minutes), and the remaining tracks on the album are also more than worthy of being mentioned. I could have done without the 5:58 minutes long closing track "Proga-Europa", which opens with 5 minutes of silence before closing with 1 minute of music, but other than that track, "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" features many powerful, heavy, and intriguing doom/stoner metal tracks. "North Berwick Witch Trials" is a personal favorite (damn that is a great track), but tracks like "Upon Azrael's Wings" and "Corpsecycle" are also among the highlights.

"The Garden of Unearthly Delights" features a heavy, powerful, and organic sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. Cathedral are as always a well playing act, pumping out brick heavy riffs and rhythms, but also more querky, psychedelic, and even progressive moments. Lee Dorrian´s voice and vocal style is a bit of an aquired taste, but to my ears his performance on "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" is among his finest moments. While there is a silly psychedelic tinged vocal part here and there, he predominantly sounds delightfully gruff and even a little angry too, which suits the dark and heavy parts of the material perfectly. The album features some female clean vocals too, courtesy of Lo Polidoro, and the female vocals compliment Dorrian´s vocals well.

To my ears Cathedral´s discography is a bit uneven in quality. There are both some incredibly great albums but also quite a few more standard quality releases. "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" definitely belongs in the former catagory, and sits well along side "classic" Cathedral albums like "Forest of Equilibrium (1991)" and "The Ethereal Mirror (1993)". It´s raw and heavy, but also both melodic and psychedelic/progressive and it is through and through an intriguing release. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

ELECTRIC WIZARD Come My Fanatics...

Album · 1997 · Stoner Metal
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SilentScream213
Boring, repetitive, boring, heavy, boring, fuzzy, boring, noisy, and boring. Insulting how this is considered a great release in Doom Metal when it is not Doom Metal at all. Droning, Stoner “riffs” caked in enough fuzz that you’re tricked into thinking this is some kind of atmospheric soundscape. Played slow with insane lethargy, not for the sake of emphasizing mood or feeling, but because the band members were probably too burnt to be bothered to play anything else.

I do usually like to see the value in something even if it isn’t for me, but the mass praise this thing gets means I don’t need to cut it any breaks. It doesn’t do anything except layer on guitar fuzz, and I don’t understand what the appeal to that is supposed to be. Rather, I can see how inebriated people are fooled into liking this, but for the album to be so widely beloved and acclaimed? What is going on? How is this appealing to so many people? Albums like this truly make me feel like I’ve lost touch with the world.

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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