Stoner Rock

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CLUTCH Psychic Warfare Album Cover Psychic Warfare
CLUTCH
4.90 | 9 ratings
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CLUTCH Blast Tyrant Album Cover Blast Tyrant
CLUTCH
4.74 | 9 ratings
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CLUTCH Robot Hive / Exodus Album Cover Robot Hive / Exodus
CLUTCH
4.69 | 9 ratings
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CLUTCH Earth Rocker Album Cover Earth Rocker
CLUTCH
4.58 | 10 ratings
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SPIRITUAL BEGGARS Earth Blues Album Cover Earth Blues
SPIRITUAL BEGGARS
4.55 | 6 ratings
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MONSTER MAGNET Mastermind Album Cover Mastermind
MONSTER MAGNET
4.64 | 3 ratings
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DOZER Through The Eyes Of Heathens Album Cover Through The Eyes Of Heathens
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4.56 | 4 ratings
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FU MANCHU Daredevil Album Cover Daredevil
FU MANCHU
4.50 | 5 ratings
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FU MANCHU California Crossing Album Cover California Crossing
FU MANCHU
4.50 | 4 ratings
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CLUTCH Strange Cousins From the West Album Cover Strange Cousins From the West
CLUTCH
4.38 | 9 ratings
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FU MANCHU In Search Of... Album Cover In Search Of...
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4.44 | 5 ratings
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FU MANCHU We Must Obey Album Cover We Must Obey
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BURNING CITIES
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ZEN BISON Krautrocker

Album · 2018 · Stoner Rock
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siLLy puPPy
One of the countless modern bands that looks back instead of ahead, the retro band ZEN BISON formed in Rostock, Germany in 2013 by Philipp Ott (guitar, vocals), Steffen Fischer (bass) and Martin Konopka (drums) and decided to take a trip back to the wild wonderful psychedelic timeline where the a1960s met the 1970s. The band actually started out merely as BISON but since it’s getting harder and harder to score a simple one-word band name these days, the much more interesting ZEN BISON came to be. After the addition of two more members: Hans Kirschner (keys, organ) and Bobby Müller (percussion) were added, ZEN BISON was ready to take Germany down memory land.

As the band’s so far only album title KRAUTROCKER suggests, this is indeed a retro journey into Germany’s past where fuzzy guitar riffs painted a bluesy rock pastiche and slowly drifting jam sessions offered transcendental escapism into the perceived promised paths to ascension. While nirvana may or not be experienced during this album’s 42 1/2 minute run, the authenticity of a retro Kraut album endowed with a knack for divine mimicry will leave you wondering if this was indeed a long lost relic released from the obscurity shelves of some long lost recording studio where the tapes had been sitting for some half century. Indeed everything here passes the test. Trippy album cover art, stoner vibe, spaced out jams with ethnic influences. It’s all here for the Krautrock lovers who just can’t get enough.

The album is bookmarked by two vocal tracks. “Blow My Mind” sounds like something out of the Jimi Hendrix playbook with classic wailing psychedelic guitar riffs that bring a smokey club in 1968 to mind. Philipp Ott delivers the perfect dead ringer classic blues rock singing style with that grizzled Groundhogs meets Grand Funk Railroad stylistic approach. The same goes for the closing “Going Down” which perfectly emulates the late 60s but unfortunately the band is so fixated on mimicry that these tracks sound like mere covers rather than original material. The latter track also adds extensive guitar licks and jamming time as it extends past the 10 minute mark. In fact three of the tracks hover around the 10 minute mark leaving only the first two under six.

“Backseat Lovers” doesn’t deviate from the opener’s hard blues rock only the guitar heft is even louder and more distorted as the fuzz and haze only intensifies. This is also a vocal track. The best tracks are the 11-minute title track which is an instrumental journey into the heady authentically German sounds that one would hear from Amon Duul II or other drugged out mind-bending pioneers of the era. The near 10-minute “La Madrugada” offers a more uplifting treat with Santana inspired percussive drive and a Latin flair that gives a bit of joie de vivre to the otherwise spaced out or balls to the wall heaviness. These two instrumental tracks despite being more pleasant to my ears unfortunately are also quite derivative of journeys already taken but for what it’s worth this is quite a pleasant album to get lost in as it satisfies on all levels however it also doesn’t invite repeat listens either. In the end ZEN BISON is a decent retro band but given these types of bands are a dime a dozen these days, this band will have to find its own voice in the wilderness to really remain relevant.

CLUTCH The Elephant Riders

Album · 1998 · Stoner Rock
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Unitron
"Could'a been a ladybug on a windchime, but she was born a Dragonfly"

It has always been difficult for me to talk in writing about albums I love dearly, and communicating how much something connects with me on an emotional and personal level. Especially an album that isn't just a favorite album, but the all time favorite. For years my all time favorite album was Helstar's Burning Star, an album that I still love a whole lot and is still among my favorites, but not the top. I never thought it'd ever be topped, I was sure it would always remain. The passion and songwriting on that album is fantastic, but The Elephant Riders kept climbing and climbing as time went on and speaks to me in so many different ways.

I've always really liked The Elephant Riders since I first heard it, but I didn't know how much I would come to love it and how much it would inspire me directly as a songwriter and completely change my idea of what lyricism and songwriting mean.

The Elephant Riders has this very homey production, warm and inviting like a nice fireplace on a brisk day. It brings out Dan Maines's fittingly warm and fuzzy basslines to their fullest, and Tim Sult's guitar tones are simultaneously massive like the elephants they're riding and clean like freshly fallen leaves. Jean-Paul Gaster's drums ignite the total groove that all instruments thrive in. Clutch perfects a blend of southern blues and metal that was almost lost when the stupid idea that blues can't make metal came about. These riffs curbstomp that idea. I used to be more closed-minded and didn't like brass instruments, but the horns in Muchas Veces, hidden track 05, and especially instrumental Crackerjack completely changed that with the trombone adding a lot to these already fantastic songs and helped me start to appreciate these great instruments.

This whole album and band brings me nothing but pure joy, but vocalist Neil Fallon inspires me like no other musician has. He can sing beautifully melodic like the 70's blues and metal vocalists that probably influenced him, and also forceful and rough like his grungy and sludgy contemporaries. His lyrics and songwriting though, that's where he has no equal. Abstract, but not in the philosophical sense, this is passionate poetry. These are words and phrases that work and flow perfectly together, even if they don't make any sense. The vocals become another instrument, and as a songwriter myself, taking that approach to lyrics is incredibly fun and rewarding. The lyrics that open this review, from the closing The Dragonfly, are among my favorites on display, but the whole album is a treasure trove of fantastic rhymes and storytelling.

I've rambled enough, art doesn't get any better than this.

DEAD QUIET Dead Quiet

Album · 2015 · Stoner Rock
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voila_la_scorie
Dead Quiet are a little hard for me to label. They’re said to be doom metal/stoner rock with lots of seventies influences, but I’d say they are basically a very heavy stoner rock band with a lot of sludge factor. Their self-titled debut was released in 2015 with the track “Foul Words” released with a bizarre video that seems to be about a guy who can’t feel any sensation of pain and goes about trying to injure and harm himself throughout the video, from smashing beer bottles over his head to swallowing powdered laundry detergent with bleach.

Of the nine tracks here, five of them are loaded with sludge-like heavy chords and vocalist Kevin Keegan screaming over top of it all. The other four tracks blend acoustic and clean electric guitar with the band’s thousand-ton chords. The lyrics seem to be mostly about soul-devastating frustration and despondency over loss or a burning desire to rise above and crush all the sources of this mental anguish with whatever final flame of desire to survive remains. Check out titles like “Home Is Where You Go to Die”, “The Fall of Me” or “God Was Wrong”. The track, “Remaining Remains” includes the reading of a eulogy while the track, “God Was Wrong” will have you wanting to guzzle down beers during the acoustic verses and then smash the empties over your head for the crushing chorus.

There are some cool little surprises that show up to add some diversity to the dark and self-obliterating atmosphere in the heavier parts. “Remaining Remains” includes a sparse yet moody bass riff that had me thinking of the Butthole Surfers “Locust Abortion Technician” album. “The Fall of Me” includes a picked banjo and later has a weird synthesizer part with a steady bass pulse and cymbals for percussion that could have been something from Animals/The Wall era Pink Floyd. “Home Is Where You Go to Die” could sound like a grunge band similar to Nirvana doing a partly clean guitar, melodic track. Some of the songs also change partway through either picking up the pace a little or darkening down.

This isn’t an album I personally would think to play through in its entirety often even though there are no tracks I don’t like. In my opinion, each of the songs are good and many have some extra quality that makes those particular tracks stand out from the general messed up mind mood. Just for me, there isn’t any one particular track or pair of tracks that really shine as “Awesome Mix” playlist inclusions.

A good and even very good album as a debut, and now that Dead Quiet have just released their third album in early autumn of 2020, I’ll be curious to know how they sound these days.

CLUTCH Clutch

Album · 1995 · Stoner Rock
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Unitron
Clutch's self-titled album is a fantastic album and great transition from the aggressive sludge metal of their debut to the southern blues metal of The Elephant Riders, mixing both sounds and perfecting both. There's also psychedelic vibes and some great funky rhythms, it basically uses all elements of what Clutch's music has done and would do. Neil Fallon's vocals are still raw and gravelly, yet will sing melodic lines with those vocals as well sometimes a hip hop lyrical flow (Not quite rapping, but it's easy to hear the influence on a song like Texan Book of the Dead). The abstract lyrics are more easily heard, and are just as fantastic as the debut.

Songs like Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw, the bursting with energy Texan Book of the Dead, Escape from the Prison Planet, psychedelic Spacegrass, awesomely titled I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth, the funky and bluesy swagger of Tight Like That, and sludgy Animal Farm are all absolute favorite Clutch tracks of mine and show off how varied the album is.

CHRON GOBLIN Life For The Living

Album · 2013 · Stoner Rock
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voila_la_scorie
Described as stoner rock, this album by Chron Goblin doesn't seem content to cozy up with some "buds" and chill in the vapours. It's more like bust and grind. The songs just explode out of the speakers: bombastic guitar chords, crashing drums, and a voice that could make a bull moose feel threatened. Power! That's my impression track after track. The energy of punk and the impact of metal. This is like being shot from a cannon through a brick wall with anvils strapped to your limbs! Perhaps at times like The Sword but with a different approach to the vocals and riffs.

A lot of the songs end abruptly, so it's a bit of a surprise when "Blood Flow" suddenly stops right in the middle of the track and then slams in a new riff that's like getting your face repeatedly smushed across a rough concrete surface by some huge, ugly beast of a torture maniac.

The only time things finally cool down a bit is for the closing track, "Any Day", which is like a doom metal/stoner ballad. Not love song. Just slower tempo.

It's tough to find a track that stands out above the others, but I'll say that "Anesthetize" is pretty kick ass. Love the line, "I want excitement!" That sums up the music of this track and most of the album. These guys must work up a real sweat performing live.

Not much more to say but great driving music!

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