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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DOWN Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow... Album Cover Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow...
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stoner metal Music Reviews

DOWN Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow...

Album · 2002 · Stoner Metal
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UMUR
"Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow..." is the 2nd full-length studio album by US metal act Down. The album was released through Elektra Records in March 2002. It´s the successor to "NOLA" from 1995 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as bassist Rex Brown has been added to the lineup (he also plays some organ and keyboards on the album). Guitarist Kirk Winstein had played the bass parts on "NOLA (1995)".

Although "NOLA (1995)" was a big success when it was released, the band members only played a 13-date tour, as they all had commitments they had to return to in their at the time main band´s Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, and Eyehategod. In the autumn of 2001 they finally had time to gather again and to record the material for "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow...".

7 years between album releases is a long time, and "NOLA (1995)" and "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow..." are ultimately also very different sounding releases. "NOLA (1995)" was a very rough edged and immediate release, which at times sounded like just the next step from a demo recording, but "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow..." is a completely different beast, as it is very well produced and the band also seem to have had more time to write and develop the material, which is generally stronger, more memorable, and more varied, than the material on "NOLA (1995)".

The listener is treated to heavy southern stoner riffs and grooves, but "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow..." is a very dynamic release, and it also features several more mellow moments/tracks. Lead vocalist Phil Anselmo puts on a strong and varied performance. After increasingly more brutal and extreme vocal performances on the last couple of Pantera albums preceding the release of "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow...", it´s nice to hear him sing a little more melodic again. He still has a raw and powerful voice, but he is also a great "clean" singer and some of the more mellow material on the album gains a lot from his personal and unique voice and vocal style.

Some tracks take a few listens to get into and remember, while others are infectiously catchy (once I heard the chorus to "Stained Glass Cross", it stuck for days), but all tracks on the 15 track, 66:04 minutes long album are high quality material. Many albums with playing times that long overstay their welcome by at least a few tracks and typically 10-20 minutes of playing time, but that´s not the case with "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow...", which features a varied and well flowing tracklist. It´s interesting and entertaining from start to finish wether it hits you with crushingly heavy southern riffs and grooves or takes you on a psychadelic mellow journey. This is a high class album release through and through. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

ORANGE GOBLIN Frequencies From Planet Ten

Album · 1997 · Stoner Metal
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UMUR
"Frequencies from Planet Ten" is the debut full-length studio album by UK, London based stoner metal act Orange Goblin. The album was released through Rise Above Records in 1997. Orange Goblin formed in 1995. They were however already active from 1994 to 1995 under the Our Haunted Kingdom monicker. They initially played doom/death metal, but when they decided for a stylistic change they also opted for a name change.

"Frequencies from Planet Ten" opens with "The Astral Project", and right of the bat the listener is treated to heavy groove laden riffs and energetic organic rhythms of the late 60s blues rock school (...and of course early 70s Black Sabbath). Just add a healthy dose of heaviness and a spoonful of psychadelia and you´re halfway there. Orange Goblin actually incorporate quite a few mellow and stoned psychadelic moments on the album to compliment their heavy riffs. Lead vocalist Ben Ward sings both raw and more mellow type vocals. He is not the most distinct sounding vocalist on the scene and his vocals are actually one of the less interesting features on the album, but he gets the job done.

"Frequencies from Planet Ten" is well produced, featuring a powerful organic sounding production, which suits the material well. So it´s an album featuring both good and less remarkable moments and features. The songwriting is decent but nothing out of the ordinary for the genre, and you´ll find very little here you haven´t heard before. That´s more or less the premise of the stoner metal genre, but artists are always welcome to add just a little bit of originality to the table, which Orange Goblin pretty much neglect to do here. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

TROUBLE Manic Frustration

Album · 1992 · Stoner Metal
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UMUR
"Manic Frustration" is the 5th full-length studio album by US doom metal/heavy rock act Trouble. The album was released through the Rick Rubin owned Def American Recordings in June 1992. Rubin is credited as co-producer along with Trouble. "Manic Frustration" is the successor to the band´s second eponymously titled album from 1990, which was also a Rick Rubin produced affair. It was an album which saw Trouble taking their music in a different direction to the doom/heavy metal style of their first three albums, as that album sits firmly in stoner doom/heavy rock territory.

The style of the predecessor is more or less continued on "Manic Frustration", but with a stronger mainstream appeal and with generally more memorable songwriting. Tracks like "Come Touch the Sky", "Memory's Garden" (a video was shot for this track), and "Hello Strawberry Skies" are among the highlights ("The Sleeper" is an absolute heavy/hard rock beauty too), but "Manic Frustration" is a strong album throughout, featuring predominantly energetic hard rockers, but also some slower and more mellow tracks like "Rain" and "Breathe...". The two latter mentioned aren´t the highlights of the album, but they are nice breathers between the high energy hard rockers on the album.

The music style isn´t as such a revolution and you´ll hear little here you haven´t heard in some form or other by other artists and on other releases, but Trouble understand how to write a great powerful heavy rock riff, play some great heavy rhythms, and top it of with the strong screaming vocals by Eric Wagner, who sounds like the bastard child of Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) and Brian Johnson (AC/DC). It may seem like a simple recipe on creating vers/chorus structured heavy/hard rock songs, and to some degree it is just that. But standing out from the crowd playing this type of music and to write and deliver memorable tracks with such passion and burning conviction as the listener are exposed to on this release is rare.

Another great feature on "Manic Frustration" is the sharp and powerful sounding production job. That rhythm guitar sound is corrosive. So upon conclusion "Manic Frustration" is a both memorable release and an effective one too, which means you can sing along to all tracks while banging your head at the same time. This sits on the border between heavy metal and heavy/hard rock, and Trouble nail that style to perfection here. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

DOWN NOLA

Album · 1995 · Stoner Metal
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SilentScream213
Coming off of the cowboy trailblazers of Groove Metal, Phil forms a supergroup and establishes another new genre: Southern Metal. While not the first album in this style, NOLA definitely solidified the genre, which already took immense influence from Pantera’s Texan foundation.

This album has a much more traditional sound than what Pantera were doing at the time, with Stoner groove and Heavy Metal riffs, and a bit of Sludge in the tones and themes. All of these traits would become common in the genre.

The problem with this album for me (like with almost any Stoner album) is that it doesn’t really have any mood, it’s just riffs and grooves for the sake of it. The lyrical themes are quite dark, but the fun jamming sound of the album just take their power away. The music is proficient and a few of the riffs are catchy enough, and Phil sounds great, but the album doesn’t evoke anything more than that. The best riffs like those found at the beginning of tracks “Hail the Leaf” and “Losing All” are mitigated by chuggy, boring midsections that add nothing to the songs.

DOWN NOLA

Album · 1995 · Stoner Metal
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UMUR
"NOLA" is the debut full-length studio album by US metal act Down. The album was released through Elektra Records in September 1995. Down were formed in 1991 by lead vocalist Phil Anselmo, guitarist Pepper Keenan, guitarist Kirk Windstein, bassist Todd Strange, and drummer Jimmy Bower. All seasoned veterans of the New Orleans scene (and old friends) and active in acts like Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, and Eyehategod. The band recorded a three-song demo, which they handed out to fans at shows when playing with their daytime job bands, without telling the fans they themselves were playing on the demo. That way the demo and the Down name were spread in the metal underground. It wasn´t until an Elektra Records representative attended a one-of Down show in New Orleans that they band got signed. "NOLA" was a successful release and Down gathered for a 13-date tour, before returning to their main acts again.

The band members originally formed Down because of their mutual love for heavy doomy music like Black Sabbath and Trouble, but on "NOLA" they inject the heavy riffs and rhythms with a sourthern stoner groove and Anselmo´s distinct sounding aggressive vocals (although he also sings more clean and melodic here). It´s a massive heavy sound with a great organic groove. Ultra heavy blues based rock music featuring catchy heavy riffs, groove laden heavy rhythms, and recognisable vocal melodies. Although the heavy groove based riffs are quite dominant in the soundscape, the band successfully incorporate more mellow and laid back moments too. A dynamic songwriting approach which is great for the variation of the album. The stoned mellow moments also go well with the often drug themed lyrics and songtitles like "Hail the Leaf", "Rehab" and "Bury Me in Smoke".

The sound production is raw, organic, and heavy. Personally I´m not a huge fan of the guitar tone, but it´s a subjective observation, and "NOLA" is arguably a well produced release, and the sound production suits the material well. Upon conclusion "NOLA" is a quality stoner metal release by Down. It´s well performed, well produced, and well written, so a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong.

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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