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

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stoner metal Music Reviews

EGYPT (ND) Egypt

EP · 2007 · Stoner Metal
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siLLy puPPy
EGYPT was a stoner metal / retro heavy psych band that formed in Fargo, North Dakota in 2003 but broke up three years later in 2006. In this time only four songs were recorded for a demo that turned into this confusing self-titled debut that was also released as a self-titled EP in 2009. The band found a cult following with these set of songs and given that the band members hadn’t found anything better to latch on to they decided to reform in 2013 and released three more albums for disbanding once again in 2017.

This first lineup featured Aaron Esterby (vocals, bass), Chad Heille (percussion) and Ryan Grahn (guitar). Weirdly the band’s name is Egypt but the album cover art of this first offering features what resembles a Druid of some sort. Hmmm. When i say this is stoner metal i really mean it. While some bands classified as stoner metal like Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss are energetic and craft compositions that feature pop-infused hooks and nice chord changes, EGYPT is the real deal as far as nonchalant riffage and fuzz-fueled guitar chords are concerned.

Despite hailing from North Dakota, EGYPT sounds like it’s adopted a lot of southern rock on this one with Aaron Esterby’s vocals sounding like something from classic Lynyrd Skynyrd. The guitar riffs are nothing out of the ordinary. Simple bluesy riffs bathed in reverberating fuzz and a touch of traditional Black Sabbath without any thought given to extended compositional fortitude. Nope, this is just a series of cyclical loops that play around with loudness and dynamics. The strongest feature of this band is the cool bass grooves which sounds unlike anything i’ve heard before. It’s the trippiest and stoniest part of the entire EGYPT experience.

While mostly on slo-mo, the band does rock out in a Southern metal kinda way. My favorite track is the opening “Valley of the Kings” which delivers the band’s best attacks fast and furiously or should i say slowly and insidiously. While things start out great the band doesn’t really deviate from the formula nd the following tracks just sorta push repeat with the expected change the chords around and a few other dynamic changes just to claim their new tracks. This i the reason most stoner metal fails to impress me because it totally eschews qualities like creativity and the art of surprise.

The tones and timbres the band achieves is my favorite aspect of this EGYPT release but overall i’m not too overly thrilled with this one. It’s a pretty good listening experience but not one of those OMG transcendental stoner trips that makes you want to smoke the peace pipe until your final days on this planet. No, this is just a nice pleasant hazy journey through the stoned out minds of the good ole boys just having some fun and doing a really good job in the production arena. This is a nice way to kill thirty minutes of your life but ultimately it’s forgettable and isn’t something that beckons a return.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY Deliverance

Album · 1994 · Stoner Metal
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SilentScream213
On Deliverance, Corrosion of Conformity finally settle into the style now known as Southern Metal and deliver one of the first and finest cuts of the genre. After dancing with Crossover Thrash and Groove Metal in the past, their fourth effort sees them abandon nearly all of their aggression for a more laid-back rocker filled with anthemic vocals and simple but effective riffs.

Stoner Metal is usually one of my least favorite subgenres of Metal, but Corrosion of Conformity play it very well here, and have an eclectic mix of styles going on over the album. Some songs are fast, some groove slowly, and some are entirely outside the Metal umbrella. It’s a fun album most of the time. For an album with 14 tracks and a good variety in sound, it stays shockingly consistent.

At the end of the day, it’s still a style I’m not a huge fan of. I like it, but I don’t love it, and most of the album falls around the decent-to-good category for me. Case in point, my favorite track is Without Wings, a beautiful acoustic piece with string accompaniment that sounds nothing like the rest of the album.

KYUSS Welcome To Sky Valley

Album · 1994 · Stoner Metal
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SilentScream213
Time for a hot take, given how beloved this album is…

Kyuss has never done much for me, and while this is my favorite of their material I’ve heard so far, it’s still stuck in “decent” territory. I actually liked this album more the first time I heard it; the riff of the first track was pretty catchy, and the way Asteroid jams is quite entertaining indeed. I was prepared to like this album a lot.

However, the more I listened to it, the more it grew off me. The riffs, for the most part, are quite repetitive, sometimes becoming dull, and after multiple listens the magic they had has gone stale. A fair amount of the tracks have jam sections in them, and the band doesn’t go anywhere most of the time. The solos sound like they’re trying to be psychedelic, and don’t create much in terms of melody or technique. People praise the vocals, but they’re just very generic Stoner Rock/Grunge vocals, and on top of that the lyrics are quite poor.

The album is not without strengths, and I will recognize them. Asteroid is a very good song, for one. The riffs are quite monolithic, there’s a good amount of energy and variation to it. The album is overall very consistent, and easy to listen to front to back. Another thing people say is that the album does a good job of actually taking you to Sky Valley, and I totally agree. This album just oozes desert heat, dehydrated mirages and psychedelic pink skies. I did also have the pleasure of listening to this on a hot sunny day in the car with the windows down. That’s how it’s meant to be, I think.

My own biases aside, the album is a good ride start to finish, but does little to stand out amongst its genre. Lick Doo is particularly embarrassing and just a final slap in the face as the album closes. While this album has a time and a place, it’s not strong enough that I’d want to spin it again anytime soon.

SPACE COKE Lunacy

Album · 2022 · Stoner Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Emerging from Columbia, South Carolina as far back as 2008, the bong worshipping band SPACE COKE is one of those modern musical entities that isn’t impressed by the overt complexities of many contemporary music forms and has instead looked to the past from some many decades ago to find its musical comfort zone, in this case the wild drug fueled 1960s. Finding its niche in the modern world of stoner metal, SPACE COKE takes the typical genre approach by adopting the guitar majesty of classic Black Sabbath, the extra touches of guitar oomf via the channeling of Jimi Hendrix and the typical heavy psych fuzz and buzz of an entire generation of freaky people who just wanted to party with Cheech and Chong.

So far this band that consists of Reno 'El Cheapo' Gooch (guitar, vocals), Jay Matheson (bass), Moses Andrews III (organ and keys) and Brandon Johnson (drums) has cranked out an EP and three bonafide albums with this latest LUNACY gracing the modern world in 2022 only like its 1969 with better recording equipment. While much of modern metal wants to craft scary and alienating soundscapes designed to freak yer shit out, SPACE COKE just wants to party and nobody understood the whole peace and love party ethos better than those who lived through the peace and love 60s. Flower power forever!!! LUNACY features five tracks with an unsurprising classic LP playing time of nearly 40 minutes.

When it comes to stoner metal, one cannot even think about entering the ring without the proper reverence to Black Sabbath and in that regard SPACE COKE has constructed an alter the size of its home state with all those oozing doomy guitar riffs that fly right off the pages of the Tony Iommi playbook but SPACE COKE isn’t a one-trick pony like many similarly styled bands in the midst. Oh no way. This band also pays particular reverence to a Mr Jimi Hendrix with more sophisticated guitar moments that erupt when the monotonous repetition of the doom riffing becomes a bit ho hum. Perhaps not as obvious is the fact that singer Reno Gooch mines his love of Indian Classic music which provides the proper overall structure for this transcendental journey into the bong-o-sphere.

What makes LUNACY really stand out from the competition though is the extensive use of organ and keyboard sounds which really activates the heavy psych 60s sound and if that wasn’t enough, space jazz tripper Sun Ra has been cited as a major influence which takes things even further into space cadet central. Also in the mix are various sound samples of miscellaneous films and sources from the past and to cement the stoner metal deal comes in the form of processed vocals and psychedelic production wizardry. While many a stoner album can assume the listener will be so blitzed out of his/her mind that no attention needs to be paid to the subtleties of crafting an interesting album, LUNACY on the other hand assumes no such nonsense and creates the perfect bifurcation meaning that this is an album that can be enjoyed passively while tripping one’s brains out or for someone like me who doesn’t have time for such things can appreciate exclusively as an artistic statement.

As with many stoner metal albums, the guitars aren’t really the genre’s strong suit. Like most albums in this exclusive club, guitar riffs are fairly standard and rarely inventive. The artistic expressions lie elsewhere if at all and in the case of LUNACY they lie in the exquisite retro organ sounds and the myriad sound effects that flicker in and out of the musical procession. Luckily the guitar riffing does change things up periodically too however the classic cyclical loops of repetitive guitar riffs do keep this album from fulling breaking from its Earthly orbit and thus lingers in monotonous drudgery at times. Overall this is a fun and entertaining album that will be appreciated by those who can appreciate the more modern stoner bands like Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Ufomammut or Dark Buddha Rising. While not my top pick of the stoner metal world, SPACE COKE delivered a lot more than i was expecting.

KING BASTARD It Came From the Void

Album · 2022 · Stoner Metal
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siLLy puPPy
With a regal yet amusing band appellation, the New York City based KING BASTARD has arrived to claim the throne of the world of psychedelic filth with its introduction to the world in the form of IT CAME FROM THE VOID. With a propensity to channel post-Black Sabbath styled guitar jams enshrouded by layers of psychedelic effects, this stoner metal band has sworn off the cheap weed and seems to have taken a trip to Peru for a bonafide ayahuasca freakout instead. Graced with a trippy and hilariously cool album cover art of a lysergic astronaut of death as your host, it’s almost like a long lost episode of “Tales From The Crypt” has emerged in musical form.

This psychoactive brew of ceremonial spiritual medicine and crushing doom metal unfolds the perfect recipe for those who can’t decide whether to listen to Kyuss or Pink Floyd and in one swoop KING BASTARD solves your dilemma by providing the perfect mashup of both! This band is a four-piece and features Mike Verni (guitar), Isabel Guido (synthesizer, saxophone, vocals), Arthur Erb (bass) and Matt Ryan (drums, percussion). IT CAME FROM THE VOID is like a 21st century soundtrack to the “Twilight Zone” with six tripped out lysergic passages through the world of neo-psychedelia and stoner metal. While modern stoner rock / metal bands can prove to dish out too much of a good buzz, IT CAME FROM THE VOID clocks out around the 46 minute mark making the perfect escape from reality.

Given its limited musical vision, stoner metal is not a genre i gravitate towards with glee but rather trepidation since the stylistic approach is painfully simple and more often derivative of a gazillion bands that preceded and followed by another gazillion who are yet to come. In that regard KING BASTARD does indeed tick off the stoner metal essentials, namely thick brooding guitar and bass grooves downtuned and teased out into classic heavy psych blues based chord progressions. Accompanied by a lazy drummer that accentuates the grooves, the basis of this stoner metal band is not unlike most others. The songwriting isn’t as clever as classic Kyuss and the intensity is not as effective as Electric Wizard however the members KING BASTARD have a few other tricks up their sleeves.

What makes IT CAME FROM A VOID work for me is the excellent collection of synthesizer sounds and soundtrack clips taken from myriad sci-fi films including the “Alien” flicks which also provide an inspiring music motif of drifting through space with monsters lurking in every corner. Psychedelic doom metal riffs chug along while gurgling, oscillating and full-spectrum sound effects slowly ooze in and out of audible range. Add to that some beautifully nasty guitar tones including some freaked out wah-wah pedals and carefully placed freak outs that confirm the ayahuasca is kicking in and you have the perfect recipe for a stoner metal album that puts the emphasis on the stoner part of the equation. There’s even a few jazzy moments with a stowaway saxophone on board. The production is perfect on this one.

True that KING BASTARD hasn’t reinvented the stoner metal wheel as many a band have successfully taken this journey into the vacuous expanses of space but these guys have reached the limits of the traditional bong fueled head trip and have gone for hardcore shit and IT CAME FROM THE VOID delivers all those mischievous interdimensional demons just waiting to be summoned for a rip roaring good time. This is the kind of music i have to be in the mood for and when i started this album i clearly wasn’t but after finding myself in a much mellower state of mind, this proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered. This is a wily BASTARD that may not yet deserve its keys to the kingdom as supreme stoner but has the confidence to make a good contender and well on its way to take stoner metal to galaxies far far away.

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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