“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make”
Bela Lugosi, Dracula (1931)
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.
~December Doom Chart Edited by Gram “The Son of Sam” Pola~
25. Horisont – Odyssey
Originally considered a little brother band to fellow Swedes Witchcraft and Graveyard, Horisont already proved themselves to be a top tier band by their third album, ‘Time Warriors’ (2013). ‘Odyssey’ builds upon some of the proggy space-rock leanings of the last album, and finds inspiration in pulp sci-fi space sagas, but not as a cohesive concept. Yet even on the 10:46 opening title track featuring synths and long instrumental passages, there’s always some furious riffage around the corner like Yes beefed up with muscular solos worthy of prime Michael Schenker. Every swaggering guitar-loaded track triggers positive flashbacks to the likes of Rush, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, while the album wraps up with one of their most inspired, haunting creations, “Timmarna,” sung in Swedish, which hearkens back to their debut ‘Två Sidor Av Horisonten’ (2009), based on their more Swedish oriented proto-metal and psych prog roots. From their earthy blues psych to space camp, they’ve mastered it all, emerging as a magnificent band who would be appreciated by Kadavar’s fans if they’d tour. ~ A.S. Van Dorston (Fast n’ Bulbous)
24. Mammoth Storm – Fornjót
Sweden’s Mammoth Storm has been on the “ones to watch” list since their 3-song demo came out in spring 2013. Even then they were otherworldly heavy, sharing rarefied air with such avalanche inducing heavy bands as Conan, Tombstones, Windhand and Salem’s Pot.
Leave it to a Swedish band to be self-aware enough and controlled enough in their intentions to coin the perfect album title: Fornjót. (I googled it so you don’t have to:) Fornjót was an ancient, giant king in Norse mythology and it’s also the name of the outermost moon (and therefore coldest) of Saturn. Fornjót is monumental and powerful, below freezing but constantly churning in motion, a juggernaut.
Basically, the band delivers on the promise of their early demo. It’s nice when you’ve been talking up a new band and not only does their first album not make you look like an idiot, it makes you look like a prognosticating genius. For that reason they are now officially on the “ones to trust” list. ~ Lucas Klaukien (Stoner HiVe, The Sludgelord, You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
23. KIND – Rocket Science
This year has brought together some wonderful collaborations – one of which is the project Kind, featuring members of Elder, Black Pyramid, Roadsaw and Rozamov. Leading this expedition is the authoritative roar of vocalist Craig Riggs (Roadsaw), joined by drummer Matt Couto (Elder), guitarist Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar) and bassist Tom Corino (Rozamov). Talk about a dream team! Once the fuse is lit on ‘Rocket Science,’ we are launched into deep space with an urgent, unrelenting beat and a trail of intoxicating, fuzz-drenched sound. It’s an 8-song adventure you’ll not soon forget. ~ Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned)
22. Monster Magnet – Cobras And Fire (The Mastermind Redux)
Monster Magnet return with another re-imagination of one of their albums. This time 2010’s ‘Mastermind’ is given a more twisted, psychedelic makeover with ‘Cobras And Fire (The Mastermind Redux)‘.
This is an album that sounds very different from the original but also it sounds vaguely familiar at the same time. The songs have been de-constructed and put together in a way that only Monster Magnet knows how to do. Songs such as She Digs That Hole, Gods And Punks and When Planes Fall From The Sky are space rock epics with Monster Magnet right the Bull God into the far reaches of space.
“I Live Behind the Paradise Machine: Evil Joe Barresi’s Magnet Mash Vol.1” is a hybrid of “I Live Behind the Clouds”, “Paradise” and “No Paradise For Me” from “Last Patrol” & “Milking the Stars” and it stands as the albums standout track. This takes me back to the days when and why I fell in love with Monster Magnet in the first place. Gigantic spaced out riffs and the amazing groovy vocals of the self proclaimed – SPACE LORD – himself – Dave Wyndorf – who is perhaps one of the finest Stoner Rock vocalists currently singing today. It’s hard to believe this dude is 60 years old next year as he sings with the passion of someone much younger.
People are complaining that Monster Magnet should release a new album already. Well I say to them, if these redux/re-imagination albums are as good as this then long may it continue. Cobras And Fire is a blast from start to finish. THE SPACE LORD REIGNS SUPREME YET AGAIN. ~ Steve Howe (Outlaws Of The Sun)
21. Disenchanter – Strange Creations
Disenchanter proved early on in their career that they had something going on and left me no choice but to show my support upon finding out of the Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to record and unleash their newest full length CD, ‘Strange Creations’, unto the world. From the first listen through the sixth or eighth. I’ve lost count, I was hooked and knew the world was given something special. The album opens with an enticing drum pattern oozing with a fuzzed out bass-line that partners up to a downtuned, distortion-laced riff and topped with the heroic pulse of Sabine Stangenberg’s wail. Title track, “Strange Creations”, 1st of 2 songs over the 10-minute mark, brings a bluesy stoner swagger to the slow baked doomy groove, and like the entire album, speaks of mystical beings, enchanting lore, all wrapped up with seductively angelic riffs and rumbles. “Sorceries” scours the airwaves with an absolutely throttling introduction, scalping the brain like Conan the Barbarian’s sword smashing granite boulders.
The psychedelic soloing scratches the itch you just can’t quite reach, deep beyond your conscience state of being. The final cut “Snakes of the Earth” showcases the raw diversity of the band and brings the album to a proper close. Swirling with thrashy shards of metal, heavy shades of doom, and blazing clouds of stoned out groove, “Strange Creations” erupts unto the land with lethal riffage, celestial vocal chords, and an enthralling atmosphere. Don’t be scared, we are all strangely created, yet roam the land with a similar purpose. Purpose in this case, to pick up the new album by Disenchanter. ~ Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect)
20. Clutch – Psychic Warfare
Two years ago their tenth album ‘Earth Rocker’ blew each and every one out of the water. Which was yet another reason with which Clutch, who have been around since 1991, proved to be an always evolving band eager to progress. This time around however the guys seem content or even keen on deepening the sound they provided us with on that much celebrated album Earth Rocker. Their eleventh album is called ‘Psychic Warfare’ and on it we hear even swampier stoner, intense blues influences and straight trucking hard rock filled with grimy guitar solos and an angry vocalist howling his truth at us. Sometimes a bit funkier and sometimes air dry and sun baked. Most impressive is probably the way they managed to make all that more enigmatic, stirring and cinematic. Songs like “Our Lady Of Electric Light” are meant to be used in movies, you can just see the landscape pass by and the Hateful Eight wandering off into the sunset. But don’t worry, there’s no atmospheric nonsense here; just a savage wasteland full of grit teeth and bloodshot eyes! ~ Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe)
19. Balam – ‘Days of Old’
There’s a reason fans of this youthful Rhode Island quintet’s self-titled demo had to wait three plus years for their next outing: only the best ideas made it onto this album and there’s piles of them.
However Balam doesn’t take a scattershot approach to songwriting, all musical ingredients are carefully measured for maximum effect. This is evidenced by the three song / seven minute build up to what amounts to the first of three epics, the title track “Days of Old” and when it finally arrives it comes on like a declaration of war from an obsessive secret admirer. At all times Balam is three steps ahead of you, enticing you forward while leaving landmines in their wake and it all hangs together logically.
Balam also has the best drummer in doom and it elevates them from being another cool New England epic doom band to something unique and special. ~ Lucas Klaukien (Stoner HiVe, The Sludgelord, You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
18. Flight – Flight
High and Dry era Def Leppard guitar tones pierce the airwaves combining with the muscular blues chops of prime time Deep Purple and brute strength of Judas Priest. The hooks ring loud, the vocals soar melodically, and the solos burst violent with groove. The way the choppy riffs glide the stage reminds me of why I’ve always been attracted to metal. The primal chords hone a metallic edge, slicing like an air guitar hero hopped up on smoke and whiskey. Each and every song breaks away from the day to day verse chorus verse for a trip across the Thin Lizzy highway riding on the back of Iron Maiden. Take Flight! ~ Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect)
17. The Black Wizards – Lake of Fire
The Black Wizards have established themselves as an upper echelon FFOBR (female fronted, occult, blues rock) band. Hard rock that seems right out of the seventies with searing leads and powerful bluesy vocals. Yet there’s a solid modern occult, stoner vibe that grabs you by the balls. ~ Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned)
16. Spelljammer – Ancient of Days
Spelljammer finally release their new album ‘Ancient Of Days’, and it doesn’t disappoint. Heavy, long drawn out cosmic based riffs. Ancient Of Days takes their sound to new levels as they leave the Desert/Stoner Rock sounds found on their earlier albums in the past. Spelljammer embrace a new world of FUZZED OUT SPACE ROCK DOOM and it’s glorious. From the opening spaced out riffs of opening track – Meadow – Spelljammer are a band reborn as they take you on a trippy journey without the need for hallucinogenic drugs. The music is powerful enough to take you to the far reaches of space.
The heavy fuzz sounds of the albums last two tracks – The Pathfinder and Borlung – are some of the finest 20 minutes you’re likely to experience this year. Addictive Fuzz/Space-Rock/Doom Metal of the highest order. If you’re new to the world of Spelljammer then get with the program as Ancient Of Days is a spaced out trip worth taking time and time again. One of the finest Stoner/Doom Metal albums of the year. ~ Steve Howe (Outlaws Of The Sun)
15. Tombstones – ‘Vargariis’
After spending a few weeks with Tombstones’ upcoming fourth full-length, Vargariis, it’s safe to report that the band has not only matched the obliterating heft found on their standout albums Year of the Burial and Red Skies and Dead Eyes, but they have miraculously somehow managed to make their largest leap stylistically and compositionally. Vargariis finds the Oslo three-piece plunging into a blackened void and unleashing their darkest and heaviest material to date. And though they have adopted a grimmer sonic approach they have not abandoned their love of heavy, mesmerizing riffs. Vargariis is a triumph in every way. ~ Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus)
14. Beesus – The Rise Of Beesus
Imagine Kyuss, Alice In Chains and The Melvins jamming together and that’s the best way to describe to Beesus. It shouldn’t really work. 3 different bands but somehow Beesus pull this off with style and a certain grace to a point. Even if that grace is buried under by an avalanche of heavy sludgy violent noise rock riffs. Their debut album – The Rise Of Beesus – is an experimental and extremely loud affair.
Beesus impress most with the lengthier tracks such as “Kusa,” “Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth,” and “Beesus In Dope” as Beesus experiment more with their music to create some of the albums heaviest and trippiest moments. Distortion is the main weapon of choice as the Noise Rock vibe goes into the overdrive. The vocals range from aggressive clean vocals to the heavier almost death based growls and howls.
Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth is my favorite song off the album as it’s a doomy psychedelic mess. I mean that as compliment. The song drifts from one genre to the next without a care in the world. Beesus even start to channel trippy Post-Rock sounds and it makes you wonder what’s going to happen next. The vocals from singer Touis are impressive and you can feel that he’s losing his mind here.
The Rise Of Beesus is a crazy, multiple-personality riff-fest and it may drive you to the verge of insanity but what a brilliant and action packed ride that awaits you. ~Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun)
13. Kadavar – Berlin
What do you do when your first 2 albums set the bar for retro 70’s fuzz rock and your 3rd album is eagerly awaited? A lot of bands would recycle their old riffs and leave it at that. Thank fuck, Kadavar have come up with new killer riffs, cool song compositions and a slightly more polished production sound which has expanded their sonic horizons meaning the tracks sound massive and rock like a bastard. No song wastes space and you are head nodding from start to finish. Huge guitar tones, heavy riffs, driving rhythms and melodic vocals combined with magnificent solos awash with fuzz give me all I require to have my day brightened up into some thing worthwhile and when it all ends I want to play again instantly. ~ Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter)
12. Jess and the Ancient Ones – The Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes
I am picking up what Jess and the Ancient Ones are putting down. I wholeheartedly agree that there is a second coming of the psychedelic. The world is tuning back into the occult sounds emanating from the occult underground. So the time is right for the second coming of Jess and the Ancient Ones.
The bands sound has matured into a more retro rock flavored beast on their sophomore effort. A sound which is the perfect vehicle for the incredibly rich vocals of their charismatic chanteuse. A sound that therefore greatly suits the band and is sure to see them absolutely blow up if there is any justice in the world. ~ Gram “Son of Sam” Pola (Doomed & Stoned Dirty Denim)
11. Roundtable – Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia
From Melbourne, Australia, this is Roundtable – a contrast of the dastardly and the daring, with a fascinating new concept album that reminded me at portions of High On Fire, Mastodon, Red Fang, Witchcraft, Cathedral and Candlemass. And going even further back, the great legends of psychedelic and proto-metal from the seventies. Yet the record carries a distinct voice and style that is very much its own. Here we have heavy, psychedelic doom, with lusty vocals and irresistible touches of folk-medieval and post-metal. I think this one is going to become a cult favorite among lovers of underground heavy music. ~ Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned)
10. The Heavy Eyes – He Dreams of Lions
After a string of singles earlier this year ‘He Dreams of Lions’ has finally been unleashed by the geniuses over at Kozmik Artifactz. The record maintains that signature suave vocal tone and smooth as silk stoner groove patterns the band is known for, while gleaming with infectious bluesy hooks. The “woowhooowheeww”s alone on the glorious title track (and others) had me hooked and combined with an underlying surf rock meets stoned out psychedelic blues, The Heavy Eyes will have you staring in disbelief as the fuzzy rhythm induces a perma-smile so wicked it nearly drains the weight of your bloodshot eyes. The mellow psych/pop paired with masculine distortion signifies a fusion of California surf/skate punks and burly biker brethren in board shorts sharing a bonfire on a west coast beach. The solos are prevalent as the groove is habitual and after a couple listens you’ll surely be dreaming of “He Dreams of Lions”. Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect)
9. All Them Witches – Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
With the feeling of effortless jamming, All Them Witches have delivered an album that truly does carry you along from start to finish. Acoustic strumming sets the scene as slowly the mood starts to change into some really great psychedelic frazzled workouts that dazzle with atmospherics and feeling rather than using volume to subdue the listener. Spoken passages over instrumentals jostle with stoner riffs that groove like a bastard and all the time, the tracks continue to flow into each other with effortless ease. Both reflective and heavy, this album caught me by surprise and only after a couple of plays has woven its hypnotic magic into my life. ~ Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter)
8. Wizard Eye – Wizard Eye
How to write about Wizard Eye without once again falling into the trap of using too many big words and grand gestures? We reckon it is impossible! For on their new self-titled album the Philadelphia trio go big the way of the riff Wizard without going overboard. They know exactly how to conjure up the perfect mixture of proto metal magic, psychedelic sorcery and ear pleasing doom bewitchment. This is without a doubt the best spell cast in honor of the riff this month and perhaps even this year. Keep an eye on these cats, cause they know their tricks and they do them all so freakin well!! ~ Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe)
7. Sergeant Thunderhoof – Ride of The Hoof
Glad to see I’m not the only one still in love with the 2014 ‘Zigurat’ album by the Bath, UK quartet Sergeant Thunderhoof. Cause judging from the votes cast for their new record titled: ‘Ride Of The Hoof’ we all can’t get enough of the Sergeant. And rightfully so. The beast is magnificent and even bigger than on that first adventure. The heavy grooves meander and pause and stampede and make this album the ride of a lifetime. There truly is not a note missing or a tone too much. Sheer brilliance and absolutely stunning! There is only one small problem… We now have to choose between the awe-inspiring Zigurat and the mesmerizing Ride Of The Hoof! ~ Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe)
6. Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower
Its a saga. Its an epic. Like Lord of The Rings on heroin you need each moment to last forever. These songs are the whisper of the trees, silhouetted in the moonlight. The endless stillness of the night pulsing in time to the beat of your broken heart.
Demonic songbird Dorthia Cottrell, blazes emotion charged arrows of truth, deep into your cerebral, emotional and spiritual reality. A modern Janis Joplin on a broomstick. The mirror to your darkest, unspoken desires and your best friend when you are lonely. Wilt in front of her honesty.
Asechiah Bogdan and Garret Morris’ bleeding riffs of warm honey that flood mercilessly across your listening palette have been somewhat subdued by the bands decision to open themselves up to a Producer for the first time but what a choice. Grunge legend Jack Endino has chosen to separate the instruments for a more accessible mix. The dense wall of sound, the all or nothing listening experience is slightly diminished. However they seem to have found the perfect balance to allow the vocals and drums to breath a little more without taming the killer riffs. Ryan Wolfe sounds crisp and Parker chandler is the final element to the best Tone in music.
So in short, nothing has changed. Windhand is still the coolest new band on the planet delivering the expected album of the year contender. Yes, it really is that good. ~ Gram, Son of Sam (Doomed & Stoned, Dirty Denim)
5. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Night Creeper
Uncle Acid return with ten tracks of sonic psyche-frazzling heaviness and blood-drenched hooks that are simply awesome. A heavier sound which still retains the ‘69/’70 Blue Cheer vibes but at the same time turning up the psychedelic and druggy feel which holds so much allure to warped minds like myself. I have had this album on repeat and find myself drifting into the coldness of a foggy London night as twilight descends upon you and the dark, dank shadow shrouded streets beckon with hints of strange pleasures or the kiss of a razor blade only to be jolted out my fevered dream state with a fuzz filled solo and find my head is slowly nodding to the majestic songs that are starting to feel like the best thing I have played for ages. ~ Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter)
4. Mirror – Mirror
Living somewhere between Rainbow, Uriah Heep and a bullet belt, lies Mirror. This is a genuine super-group featuring past members of Repulsion, Electric Wizard, Paradise Lost, Cathedral and Ghost. Are you with me yet? Well you soon will be sold because MIRROR has more to offer. Yes, the insane part of it all is that the star of this show is not a member of any of these bands. Jimmy Mavromatis and his insane tenor vocals inhale some rare air and he is going to blow your mind. You need this record, you need to look into the mirror. Take the red pill.
3. Magic Circle – Journey Blind
The sleeve looks like your favorite seventies Sci-fi novel or the airbrushed art on the side of your Dads Panel van. The opening riff is crushing old school Doom mixed with some synths that scream “Prog”. A start So good, you won’t believe it could get any better, Then it does. Now strap yourself in for the best blend of Prog and NWOBHM since Crimson Glory released their superlative “Transcendence” in 1988. This is pure Dio era Sabbath and Candlemass level stuff, people. May the magic circle go unbroken.
2. With The Dead – With The Dead
Back in 2013, when Lee Dorrian blew out the candles over Cathedral, it was only a question of time before he would re-surface in a new project. A musician like Dorrian can never sit still for too long, even though he professed his wish to focus most of his attention on his Rise Above Label. So when the rumors started circulating about a possible collaboration between dear old Dorrian and Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening from Electric Wizard the excitement became a tangible buzz throughout the dark music caverns. On the self-titled debut-album of With The Dead we receive, completely in line with all expectations, ponderous metal mixed with thunderous rock and a multitude of dark and dusty tones and extremely malevolent sounding riffs. It is without a doubt a definite successor to all Cathedral ever was and Electric Wizard had slowly lost, at least for a lot of many Wizard fans. It is the sound of yore and of intense, powerful compulsion. Exorcism and resurrection and the birth of something wild and wonderful… ~ Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe)
1. Witchskull – The Vast Electric Dark
Witchskull and their ‘The Vast Electric Dark’ album is eight highly groove driven tracks. A sound that meanders towards atavistic rock and then bursts out of the gate with an intense stripped down metal and an almost NWOBHM vocalization. However don’t think we’ve got a simple metal band on our hands here. Hell no, these cats explore all facets of the atavistic rock genre, booking excellent time in classic doom, proto metal and bluesy stoner. And this eclecticism only adds to amazing quality of the entire album. Raw, full of grit and mystic power that quickly turns you on to their shamanistic ritual… ~ Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe)
I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning. (Aleister Crowley)
Contributors to The December Doom Chart:
Andy Seibt (Sludge Worm Magazine); A.S. Van Dorston (Fast n’ Bulbous); Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned); Bill Goodman (The Evil Engineer); Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect); Cam Crichton (Motherslug); Clint (Hand of Doom Radio); ‘Doktor420’ (Stoner HiVe); Doombeard (DoomBeardZine); Gram Pola, Son of Sam(Doomed & Stoned, Dirty Denim); Pat Harrington (Electric Beard Of Doom); Lucas Klaukein – ‘LK Ultra’ (Stoner HiVe, The Sludgelord, You May Be Dead & Dreaming); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Lyk (Phantasmagoria); Mari Knox Knox (Doommabbestia); Martin Petrov (Rawk’n’Roll – the ‘pass-me-that-bottle’ webzine);Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned); Rod Reinhardt (Captain Beyond Zen); Skip (The Burning Beard); Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun); Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus); Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter, Stoner HiVe); Ulla Roschat (Wicked Lady); Timon Menge (Sludge Worm Magazine); Tanguy Dupré – “Mr Fuzz” (More Fuzz); and Vasilis Durden (All the Heavy Lifting).