You are about to experience one of the strangest meetings ever convened — a joining of […] the most unusual people on Earth! Sit quietly in the shadows of this clandestine conference and observe it well! For from it shall soon be born … The DOOM PATROL (Arnold Drake)
Welcome to Doom Charts, representing some of the finest bloggers, radio and podcasters and album reviewers from the doom-stoner underground around the globe. Each month, our critics submit their picks for the best new doom-sludge metal and stoner-psychedelic rock albums. The results are compiled and tabulated into the chart below. This is a one-stop shop for the best new albums in the world.
25. YLVA – ‘YLVA’ Released June 9, 2015
Imagine Pelican vs Yob in a WWE cage match with Thou as the referee. This is the sound of Melbourne outfit YLVA. Incredible stuff – just the one track on offer here with more on the way. The dudes in this band have been a vital part of the fabric of the heavy music scene here in Australia for a damn long time – YLVA is definitely a band that will make an impact.
24. Ape Cave – ‘Primordium’ Released May 31, 2015
Ape Cave is a young band from Portland/Oregon and Primordium is their debut release, an EP of 3 tracks, ≈18 minutes long altogether. They blend Sludge Metal and Psychedelic Rock, but they don’t throw everything into one pot and stir it. They keep the different styles quite separate, switch from sludgy heaviness to psychedelic tripping with transitions smooth and easy that you actually don’t realize them happening. This provides the songs with a bracing unpredictability and a nice gloomy doom groove lends the binding frame. These are carefully constructed songs with brilliant riffage and propelling progressive drumwork.
23. Northwinds / Marble Chariot – ‘Split’ Released April 6, 2015
Criminally underrated and underexposed French progressive doom band Northwinds have teamed-up with up-and-coming fellow countrymen Marble Chariot for an impressive split album that plays to both bands respective strengths. For two and a half decades Northwinds have been crafting some of the most fantastical compositions in the metal scene by incorporating elements of folk, progressive rock, and doom into a uniquely singular style that sonically embodies strange lands and wistful dreamscapes. Marble Chariot, on the other hand, may not be quite as progressive or as expansive as their compatriots, but they make excellent companions on this split release with their downtrodden, mournful take on traditional doom.
22. MONOLORD – ‘Vaenir’ Released April 28, 2015
After a very successful debut with ‘Empress Rising’ (2014), Monolord are ready for more. But are we ready for more Monolord? If their stunning jump from 18 last month to 6 this week is any indication, the answer is yes!. More and more people are discovering these three Swedes and falling under the doom-spell they wield
21. Black Space Riders – ‘Refugeeum’ Released July 24, 2015
I was sold from the moment I heard the pre-release track ‘Run to the Plains’ and when the rest of the album dropped in late July it did not disappoint. A cohesive musical journey with the pertinent lyrical theme of displaced humanity, broken families and divided cultures. “For the Sake of our unborn children – With the mind of a hunted ghost – We confess we are strong and willing – Now persist! Let us reach the coast!”
‘Refugeeum’ opens with the driving track ‘Vortex Sun’ and doesn’t relent for a moment. There are plenty of dynamics at play but even during the quieter moments there is a tension woven throughout that makes it impossible to relegate this to background muzak.
‘Refugeeum’ dips occassionally into heavy riffing with growly vocals but mostly dwells comfortably in the psyche/shoegaze space. Citing influences such as The Chameleons and Joy Division you can hear the pop sensibility in the hooks, beats and melodies with the overall polish and finesse elevating this high above BSR’s previous three albums. This release will be hard to beat.
20. Sweat Lodge – ‘Talismana’ Released August 7, 2015
Another quality release from the depths of the copper universe. Sounding highly vintage and wickedly proto the Austin, Texas foursome Sweat Lodge hit us with a hard rocking boogie album called Talismana. Transporting us straight to that golden era when Sabbath and Zeppelin were soaring high; with a definite love for the ancient grooves. They have us swaying along on doom inspired riffs and catapult you with intense solo work. True inspired drumming that fills every corner of the room without ever coming oppressive. That’s where the howling comes in; with a resonating chant like quality the vocals becomes this dense fog that disorients and hypnotizes. It is what makes this album great, for the duration of the album you are incapable of doing anything else, it mesmerizes like a snake charmer and leaves you defenseless. GET IT! – Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe)
With their debut release, out on Ripple Music in August, Sweat Lodge waste no time in bringing the energy. Opener ‘Tramplifier’, not only has an eerie ring to it, but will have your head bobbing instantly with a circulating fuzz based riff leading into electrified vocals summoning forth all fans of Ozzy Osborne. Groovy guitar lines drip with distortion like hot candles at a swinger’s party. The Zeppelin-esque vocals croon along to the beat of a water bong, while the guitars inhale and exhale euphoric riffs of felicity. Keep your eyes out for Sweat Lodge, as they have proven they can hang with the big dogs of the underground rock and roll. BOOK IT! – Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect)
19. Brume – ‘Donkey’ Released May 4, 2015
Brume’s sound is to doom what fart jokes are to comedy: a classic, a guaranteed crowd pleaser. This is not a put down. Some of the more high-minded connoisseurs out there might be “so over it,” but for those with a sense of tumor it will never get old. Tumor, get it …
18. Ten Foot Wizard – ‘Sleeping Volcanoes’ Released May 18, 2015
One of the grooviest, grittiest, most badass hard rock albums of the year. Addictively melodic riffs, tantalizing vocal chops, and soaring atmospheric blues erupt into a cloud of psychedelic solos galore. For fans of Clutch, Black Cowgirl, Grifter, Bonehawk, etc….. Be sure to check this band out.
17. Horse Lung – ‘Gethsemane Haze’ Released April 25, 2015
After the warning shot of their demo in 2014, Horse Lung from Canada return with their first full length album called “Gethsemane Haze”. This means that for the next 53 minutes from the moment you’ll press the “play” button, your speakers will be filled with massive stoner doom tunes and your neighbors will admire the low end of your stereo. Here Horse Lung refined their demo material and added two more tracks. The result is a killer instrumental album that you will appreciate from the very first note. The guitar tone is fuzzed out as it should be, and the riffs are mainly laid back pentatonic monoliths, that would make Sleep proud of their Canadian sons. There will be no surprise if “Gethsemane Haze” appears in a lot of top 10 lists by the end of 2015.
16. Simon Magus – ‘The First Year of Catastrophe’ Released July 14, 2015
Simon Magus draws influences from the classic doom legends like Trouble and Saint Vitus but brings a modern twist of the likes of Ripple Musics own Zed or Blackwulf. Magus incorporate gnarly vocal wales melding together a unique brand heavy rock that straddles the 4 states of Doom, thrash, punk rock and psyched out desert fuzz. Soaring vocals glazed with a polished gravel tone summon purveyors of classic doom while maintaining enough clout for straight up metalheads.
15. Knife Ritual – ‘Old Earth’ Released June 15, 2015
The debut full-length by Michigan’s Knife Ritual is doomy, dirgy, and dark as all hell. The vocals are unstated (reminding me of some of Kurt Cobain’s more angsty moments), juxtaposed against heavy riffs and an uncompromising rhythm section. All this sound the work of just two musicians: Ryan Hagan (Guitar, vocals) and Nolan Potter (drums, vocals, percussion & synth) who managed to take cut into well-travelled musical territory and serve up something soul-stirring.
14. Khemmis – ‘Absolution’ Released July 7, 2015
The Denver quartet Khemmis has been around since that dangerous year of 2012 and have recently released their debut full-sized album Absolution. And album build like an ever changing Labyrinth. There is no escape from it and you shall find no absolution. You can only marvel at its intricate inner workings and be completely amazed that something can contain everything you can ever imagine…
13. Nightslug – ‘Loathe’ Released June 9, 2015
Nightslug’s unmistakable style of a nasty, heavy, HC tinged sludge, that’s so heavenly abrasive and filthy, is as destructive as always.This time they add even more noise and industrial flavor than they did on their first album. On Loathe everything is permeated by it. The reverberating distorted vocals sound like the last trace left of humanity, drowning in an avalanche of this bleak industrial noise. The song structures are straightforward (reminiscent of their demo songs), and make everything raw, violent, heavy, thick and add more destructive energy and bleakness. With Loathe once again Nightslug bless us with their vicious ferocity and filth that seem to emanate directly from hell.
12. Goya – ‘Obelisk’ Released August 1, 2015
Bend over and assume the position you dirty, riff slut…. Satan is about to destroy you with his magical riffmaking guitar bong. Goya have the tunes that can make you stoned, just by sitting in the same room as their sticky sweet, smoking riffs of doom. This is the sweet spot, the volcanic epicentre you have been searching for. Enter the inner earth of your unknown reality, vibrating to the hum of the Iommic void. Listen closely to Goyas’ invocations and like me you will find yourself worshiping the masters riff.
11. Goatsnake -‘Black Age Blues’ Released June 2, 2015
If you’ve been around the stoner and doom thing and paying attention for a while then you were probably expecting big things from this record and Goatsnake delivers absolutely. If a better song than “Elevated Man” emerges this year then I’ll consider my ears to have been blessed. Goatsnake is another veteran band that keeps things uncomplicated and delivers with strong hooks.
10. Demon Eye – ‘Tempora Infernalia’ Released May 8, 2015
From the very first track on Demon Eye’s sophomore record, you know you’re in for something out of the ordinary. Beautifully recorded, Pentagram and Deep Purple-influenced, up-tempo retro occult, doom, and heavy metal! Enough adjectives for ya? Well, the Raleigh, North Carolina trio live up to each and every one of them. We’ll be talking about this album well into the year.
9. Behold! The Monolith- ‘Architects of the Void’ Releases September 29, 2015
Behold! The Monolith’s triumphant return, ‘Architects of the Void,’ understandably marks a slight change in sound and execution. Their third full-length, like its predecessors, is a sprawling metal masterpiece marked by memorable riffs, scorching leads, and intricate song structures. The band, in the face of tragedy, have churned out their darkest album to date that incrementally exchanges the atmospherics that were in abundance on their first two releases for anger and even more aggression. ‘Architects of the Void’ is not necessarily better or worse than previous efforts…just slightly different, yet still it kicks ass.
8. Ecstatic Vision – ‘Sonic Praise’ Released June 29, 2015
With no doubt the Ecstatic Vision trio from Philadelphia gave birth to one of the best debut albums of this year. ‘Sonic Praise’ is an album that comes from an otherworldly dimension. It is a metaphysical place where your consciousness flies in a deep trance through space rock guitars, shaman and dreamlike vocals, cosmic and tribal rhythms. Its five tracks are captivating and rich in expressivity, they pulsate of life. Take your time and listen to them, go beyond, in the infinite space.
7. Dopethrone – Hochelaga Released April 13, 2015
The gun toting trio from Montreal just kicks ass, like always. ‘Hochelaga’ brings some of the best lyrics and riffs that Dopethrone has ever produced. Spin this record, drink all your beer, go get some more, get high, watch horror movies and blast this at 11. Dopethrone delivers again.
6. Geezer/Borracho split release – ‘The Second Coming of Heavy, Chapter One’
Released July 26, 2015
Geezer bring the heavy rusted boogie back to the party. Slow churning twang drenched in whiskey soaked moans. Seamlessly transitioning from the grizzled howls of Geezer with their own brand of southern swamp groove, Borracho close down side B slathering a gritty stoner dirge with the fuzz amplified to maximum capacity. A well balanced split on an emerging vinyl series by one of of the best in the biz. The Second Coming of Heavy succeeds in coming in heavy as hell on Chapter One.
5. High On Fire – Luminiferous
“God is an astronaut who smokes pot. You are a slave, under the rule of sideways blinking, trans dimensional lizard aliens. Wake up from your “Consume and conform coma” and dig the riffs!!! You have been warned if you miss this record you are missing the most important guitarist since Hendrix at his finest. A veritable Lycanthropic paganini with riffs that can change your life and close portals into alternate realities. Play this record loud, the future of the planet depends on it.”
-Gram, Son of Sam (Dirty Denim)
“As Matt Pike himself anticipated with his statements, Luminiferous is certified as a vehement album, apocalyptic and explosive from the very beginning to the end. A war axe thrown by the colossal Oakland trio that dominates us with devastating doses of adrenalin sounds and dragging massive arrangements that fibrillate your skull. Luminiferous is the diabolic creature born by the fusion between High On Fire’ past, present and future, an epic anointment of their huge personality that is close to perfection.”
–Mari Knox Knox (Doommabbestia)
4. Glowsun – ‘Beyond The Wall Of Time’
Although “Beyond the Wall of Time” is an almost instrumental album and there are hardly any lyrics, the album title, the cover artwork and track titles very much indicate that Glowsun play around with the concept of time here. The intro track “Arrow of Time” starts with sounds of a ticking clock and heartbeats and creates a tension right from the start. From here a thick and deep soundscape slowly evolves and expands and soon you’ll know what this album is up to – its up to entangle your mind and take you into spheres of timelessness. This album is a perfectly balanced hybrid of psychedelic stoner rock that gets you stoned as well as high. It drags you through the dry desert sand with fuzz-laden earthy heaviness, entrances you with hypnotic, driving rhythms and lets you fly high on playful melodies with spiraling loops and arcs, just to pull you back to the ground with gloomy, doomy sounds. The outro track “Endless Caravan” carefully carries you back into time picking up the clock-ticking sound from the beginning.
“Beyond the Wall of Time” is trippy and spacey, rooted deeply in stoner soil and it’s the perfect soundtrack to a mild summer night to crack a beer, rip a bong and forget the meaning of time.
The French instrumental stonerrock trio Glowsun leaves their competitors breathing in their dust with their third (concept) album Beyond The Wall of Time. Precise like Swiss clockwork but still unendingly raw and severely heavy. Majestic! –
3. Orchid – ‘Sign of the Witch’ Released July 17, 2015
The latest EP from Orchid, “Sign of the Witch” is more of their classic sabbath worshipping sound. Launching into the opening volley of “Helicopters”, a War Pigs-esque song, but with that trademark Orchid vibe that they always work into the mix. The farther you get into the new release, the more the tracks seem to wind down, and lose a little of that hard edge. Not to say they are worse, just relying on subtley to create an atmosphere instead of sheer intensity. Once you get to the Planet Caravan reminiscent closer “Strange Winds”, things have slowed down, and become very mellow and airy in nature. A far cry from the hard hitting sounds the EP start with. If you enjoy Black Sabbath, and (good)sabbath worshipping doom, then Orchid is just the thing needed in your life.
2. Freedom Hawk – ‘Into Your Mind’ Released
Saw these cats live recently in a grimy underground cellar, while they were touring through Europe with Seedy Jeezus. Delivering grade A catchy hardrock and steamy stoner. With tiny psychedelic meanderings and a vocalist that has never sounded better. You can safely state that their fourth album Into Your Mind is a gigantic leap forward. Which makes you wonder why on earth an amazing band as Freedom Hawk is not delivering their magic on the big stages of the best festivals around the globe but in dirty little basements like De Onderbroek in Nijmegen… Where they blew the attendees away though!
Freedom Hawk claw their way up from #3 in the July chart to claim #2 in August with ‘Into Your Mind’, the long awaited follow up to their critically acclaimed album ‘Holding On’. Fans of that album, fans of Small Stone Records, as well as new fans alike, will be struggling to clear their mind of the potently catchy groove. Serious contender for best of the year in the straight up, hard rawk-n-roll category Small Stone Records is known for representing. The artwork alone is out of this world.
1. Demon Head – ‘Ride The Wilderness’ Released May 20, 2015
And here they are, Demon Head, deservedly at #1 in the August 2015 Doom Chart!
Infectious hooks, genuine groove, an authentic 70’s vibe – this is a sound quite a number of bands have strived for in recent years to varying degrees of success (or failure…). Demon Head have achieved this and more in spades with ‘Ride the Wilderness’, a swaggering collection of impossibly catchy songs that get stuck in your head from first listen. The album is book-ended with the opening discordant notes of ‘Undertaker’, and finishes with a blistering solo fading into the distance on ‘Worthless’.
Absolutely everything in between is a triumphant proto metal stomp delivered with vitality, intent and outright brilliance. I wholeheartedly commend this album to your collection!
Contributors to The August Doom Chart:
A.S. Van Dorston (Fast n’ Bulbous); Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned); Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect); Cam Crichton (Motherslug); Clint (Hand of Doom Radio); ‘Doktor420’ (Stoner HiVe); Doombeard (DoomBeardZine); Gram Pola, Son of Sam (Dirty Denim); Lucas Klaukein – ‘LK Ultra’ (Stoner HiVe, The Sludgelord, You May Be Dead & Dreaming); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Lyk (Phantasmagoria); Mari Knox Knox (Doommabbestia); Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned); Rod Reinhardt (Captain Beyond Zen); Skip (The Burning Beard); Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus); Tony Maim (Stoner HiVe); Ulla Roschat (Wicked Lady); and Vasilis Durden (All the Heavy Lifting).
This August 2015 edition of The Doom Chart edited by Hand of Doom Radio