Stoner metal is quite, I won’t say “unrecognized”, but surely an underrated genre among the louder versions of rock. And it’s not hard to see why. Although the majority of metal bands use scary, and sometimes gross imagery, stoner metal makes it a bit more obscured by explicitly adding the drug (mostly cannabis related) symbols. Now, we all know that’s not so scary thing, in fact, most of us find it quite enjoyable, but in combination with a bit of “satanic” imagery, it really can repel a certain number of people.
That being told, we can now dismiss the whole first paragraph and get to the fun part – the list.
When I say “bands that live up to the genre name” I mean they make it very clear that their genre is STONER metal, I will mostly focus on the sound not so much on the imagery or name (so don’t hate for not including the Bongzilla or some other similar bands).
Starting off with best Swedish stoner product – Truckfighters and their debut Gravity X. This album is great on so many levels, from fuzzing guitars and slicing snares all the way to ingenious distorted bass lines and empowered gritty vocals. For me, this album takes you on a unique ride – pretty dynamic and energetic one. That becomes clear right away with the “Desert Cruiser” and continues all the way to the end. The record is mostly straightforward and beat-driven but when it goes off the tracks it really goes loose and fully chaotic. Great example for that is “Freewheelin’”, probably my favorite song on the album. Although some songs are long and repetitive I really don’t see the problem, it just makes the album better, and enhances the “ride” feel. The closer track is probably one of the best closers ever, it really wraps up the whole experience in a beautiful way. Truckfighters don’t hide their influences, but as much as it sounds metal inspired, I think it is reasonable to agree that this is a stoner rock essential.
Well, I think that words are redundant here.
(I’m still gonna write something.)
This album just tells everything you need to know about stoner. It is heavy, buzzing, never-ending and groovy. For those who don’t know this album is one hour long continuous piece of music (I won’t say song, because it really is a composition of its kind). If Gravity X was an energetic ride this album would be a never-ending travel through the desert starting with the utterance: “Drop out of life with the bong.” I will always argue that this album is a product of pure marijuana, the band members were just the instrument (which played the instruments?) of the weed to materialize itself in the sound form. To build a one-hour long song based on one single guitar riff and to make it this majestic is really an endeavor of its kind. Listening to this album will surely make you feel precisely like the Weedains – the protagonists of the album story, ancient people on the pilgrimage to find weed.
Here we are going back to the roots of the desert sound which has been a very important ingredient for the stoner rock scene and their unique sound. Some like to call this album desert rock and not stoner rock and I appreciate that. My intention here is to point put that stoner rock/metal just would not be same without the influence and the contribution of this band, and particularly this album. It is divided into three parts (I, II and III) and every movement is a unique and different set of songs. I always find myself liking different parts on different listens, however, it’s still pretty strong as a whole.
First part is a collection of raw stoner metal songs which just show that Kyuss still got it – a necessary show off if you like. For me, the best song here is “Gardenia” because it does so well in setting the stage for the whole album, not just the first part. The position of the best song from the second section belongs to “Demon Cleaner”, probably the hymn of this album – loud, raw, loose and perfect contrast to the acoustic and lighter songs, also from the part II. The third part is (to use the metaphor I used in the first text) ride with the gas pedal pushed to the ground. Complete madness and pure “desert energy.”
(This is a pretty superficial description, to be honest, so I encourage you to check the album, and enjoy it – preferably in the desert with a big fat blunt)
After Kyuss, we must continue to the Fu Manchu – basically made out of Kyuss without some members. Regarding that, the presence of Brant Bjork is felt in a large amount but now mixed with a bit different sound than Kyuss’. However, it would be pretty rude to talk about the Fu Manchu as the Kyuss leftover, they are way more than that.
Regarding stoner genre(s), this album is a bit different from the rest of the albums on the list. It’s monumental and heavy, on the contrary – it is pretty straightforward and rocking. There is a strange punk vibe that goes through the whole album. Fuzzy guitars are still there but the sound is more skeletal than heavy with the flavor of obligatory rawness when it comes to the stoner rock. I guess my best shot at explaining this album is – pretty filthy and sweaty. The songs are shorter which is a plus considering the vibe of the album, and aforementioned punky feel. However, the longest track – “Saturn III” is 7 minutes long and it is a hell of a psychedelic journey.
To conclude, this is a stoner classic because it took the stoner genre to the different direction than the rest bands from the list. They preserved the rawness and a bit of fuzz, but they pumped it with a different kind of energy into it – made it filthy.
Fuzz, buzz, and Buzzo. You need nothing more to make a pretty fun stoner album. If I were about to pick the favorite album here, this would be my choice. Let me start by saying that this masterpiece is a pretty diverse set of very well written and performed songs. The influences vary so much that you probably won’t be wrong to call it not a stoner (although you don’t really have to do that). From blues to punk, and various metal sub-genres it’s just a perfect blend. The format and setting of the songs is also pretty interesting, various durations, various feels and the noise part on the Magic Pig Detective all make it pretty funky mix. My personal favorite is probably “Roadbull”, and that is mostly thanks to Dale Crover and his drumming, hits are so hard, it’s incredible, and also the bass has some creamy fun parts. Overall it is very strange stoner record, and I encourage you to experience it asap.
While you don’t have to be Stoned to enjoy Stoner Music, well…just sayin’…
Join in on the conversation: https://www.reddit.com/r/stonerrock/comments/8ywacl/5_stoner_doom_rock_bands_that_live_up_to_the/
Images used are from our favorite Stoner friends from That 70’s Show