Well another year has been relegated to the shitbin of history. Some of our friends and loved ones didn’t make it with us past the finish line, others fell down along the way and those of us that survived are just a bit more scrappy than this time last year. There were plenty of things to distract our attention inbetween. Trump. Refugees. Black Pussy. Social justice. Killer cops. Charlie Hebdo. Caitlyn. Bataclan. Star Wars. Lemmy …
No doubt 2016 will bring its own distinctice stench to our lives. Gun control. Hilary …
But the Doom Charts roll on, we won’t be distracted from our sacred duty of highlighting the best of the best albums out there. There’s a lot to look forward to and we’ll cover that in a future post, I’ve got a feeling that 2016 will be a great year for our kind of music and we’ll be here to cover it.
I’d like to bid an incredibly fond (and hopefully temporary) farewell to our beloved Joop Konraad. You know him better from his own site Stoner HiVe but he’s also a founding doom charts member and an important voice in the room behind the scenes here. His always upbeat presence will be sorely missed.
And without any kind of segue I’d like to take moment to welcome your friend and mine Frazer Jones the Stoner Kind into the room. If you’ve ever been on bandcamp then you’ve definitely come across his FDJ standard more than once and you’ve probably been to his own site, Desert Psychlist. I, for one, am excited to have him on board.
And so onwards and upwards, now let’s all get musically wasted …
~ Lucas Klaukien (LK Ultra)
25. CONAN – Revengeance
Like a marauding warlord, the band Conan has never lost ground only added new dimension with every album. ‘Horseback Battle Hammer’ documented a beast awakening into a violent world, foggy and lumbering. ‘Revengeance’ is a final shaking off of cobwebs then, the band capitalizing on lessons learned through 10 years of musical conquests. The battle rages on. ‘Revengeance’ will be released on January 29 by Napalm Records ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
24. 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)
23. ROTOR – Funf
4 years since these Berliners didn’t release an album, but oh god it was worth the wait… You should know by now I’m a sucker for instrumental bands, and RotoR is the perfect example of why I love them so much. But I don’t like every instrumental band, let me explain. Unlike Space Rock (even if I still appreciate it), where to me it feels way too much repetitive, instrumental bands in the Heavy Psych territory like RotoR doesn’t need vocals to create a range of different melodies and atmospheres. RotoR are masters of their own instruments, and melodies are only created thanks to them, that’s the beauty of it all ! The songs they crafted in this album are so magic, they made me travel to so many places, made me feel so many emotions, all of this without the use of any drug, just the music itself ~ Tanguy Dupré – “Mr Fuzz” (More Fuzz)
22. 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)
21. 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)
20. MAGIC CIRCLE – Journey Blind
When I was a toddling little scamp headbanging to Motörhead and Quiet Riot records in my uncle’s basement suite I truly felt that this was the way life was meant to be. That this was the way life was ALWAYS going to be and that clearly metal was the only musical option out there that made any kind of sense. Well, a Madonna, a New Kids, a Brittany and a pair of Justins later and I wonder what’s wrong with the world. The radio comes on and the sky darkens, birdsong turns ominous and hidden intentions grow out of every smile.
And then Magic Circle appears.
No, they don’t sound like Motörhead or even Quiet Riot, but they tap into that never forgotten world of unapologetic metal-ness to leave you ‘bangin shamelessly and all seems right with the world again. And when the ‘Journey Blind’ ends, the sky is still dark, the birdsong still mocks with portents of evil and a killer still hides behind every smile, BUT … when life hands me lemons I can then say, “oh yeah, fucking lemons huh? Give ’em here!” and then proceed to suck at them with such virulence that it becomes unbearably awkward for my life’s opponents and they walk away. And that’s how to win with Magic Circle ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
19. SPELLJAMMER – Ancient of Days
The words titanic, massive and expansive spring automatically to mind. Impressive is another one. It’s impressive the way Spelljammer can conjure such an unwieldy behemoth as opening song “Meadow” from the most simplistic of beginnings. A few droned chords are set in motion like spinning plates … make that spinning tectonic plates … until sounds converge into an overpowering and numbing headbuzz. And that’s just the album getting started. ‘Ancient of Days’ has been out for a while now, if you haven’t picked it up already you probably should ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
18. 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, Stoner HiVe)
17. YURI GAGARIN – At the Center of All Infinity
~ Lyk (Phantasmagoria)
16. WITCHSKULL – The Vast Electric Dark
Witchskull from Canberra, Australia have made an impact with their debut album The Vast Electric Dark, lodged at #1 release of 2015 on a fistful of well respected music blogs/zines year end lists. It’s a heavy blues/doom album that has a classic feel, massive production, unique and exceptional vocals, blazing solos – all delivered with a blistering intent and conviction. Witchskull’s menacing focus is unrelenting, locking into an airtight rhythm on each and every track. Amazing guitar tone too. If you’re digging Witchskull you absolutely have to check out the singer Marcus De Pasquale’s other band Looking Glass, a different beast than Witchskull but the music is just as killer there in all regards ~ Clint (Hand of Doom Radio)
15. BURN THEE INSECTS – Droid Intelligence
Imagine AIC with the distortion dial turned up to maximum fuzzaliciousness. ‘Hydroponics’ kicks off the album with a bass line as fuzzy as a swarm of bumblebees buzzing a Truckfighters set. Stayley swoons swoop in and join the attack inducing paranoia like indoor ganja hung out to dry. Plumes of raucous riffs and grooves billow like burning insects on a sizzling hot hibachi clouding into Irresistibly dark and spacey harmonies on an intergalactic desert voyage. Moments of face melting dirge slather the atmosphere as the demented (d)roid-rage vocal howls grace the starship speakers on their way to outer space. The space factor is high, the fuzz runs deep, the effects are staggering and the overall impression is lasting throughout each and every song. Droid Intelligence will have you begging for breath as the weight of the tripped out fuzz buries your brain with venomous riffs and eccentric groove. Twin Earth Records has reared its ugly orbit with yet another addition to it’s doom laden roster hammering straight into this months doom charts at #15 ~ Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect)
14. 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)
13. THE BLACK WIZARDS – Lake of Fire
Huge sounding and massive, The Black Wizards play Classic Rock and Stoner with authority and power. Add some Proto-Doom and all is well. The riffs are as Sabbathy as you like without being too obvious which of course means they rock like a out of control avalanche. Mid paced songs morph into slow hymns of despair but the melodic and fuzzed solos stop any signs of wrist slashing – instead you have the uncontrollable urge to start nodding and foot stomping. In a crowded genre of female occult rock bands, The Black Wizards have cast their spell over me ~ Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter, Stoner HiVe)
12. MIRROR – Mirror
Mirror have totally captured the feel of Seventies heavy metal. They sound dead on early Scorpions on some tracts. You can also hear influence from Deep Purple, Lucifer’s Friend, Rainbow, UFO, even very early Priest. The vocals on this are a breath of fresh air, sounding like any one of these bands, not the gruff vocal style so prominent today. The trend has been to use female vocals to get this effect. It is good to hear such dynamic range in a male voice again ~ Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned)
11. SERPENT – Nekromant
Can you believe this shit? If you took any one of these nine songs and threw onto commercial rock radio it would blow up the #1 spot overnight. Now, I have a rough idea of how commercial radio works, it’s not a truly organic process, money pays for plays so if there’s no money backing a band you’re not going to hear them on the radio. I get that. But ever since ‘Songs for the Deaf’ came out I’ve been waiting for the big Stoner Rock take over of rock radio but it hasn’t happened. Could this simply be about bands like Fu Manchu and sHeavy not having enough money behind them to break out or have the money people given Stoner Rock the ice cold shoulder? Conspiracy is afoot, I say! Why do some bands make it and others don’t?
Monster Truck has gotten their names out there as did The Rival Sons to a much lesser extent, but they’re only peripherally part of the stoner rock thing at best. I think the appeal of Rival Sons is their image. It’s cute to see colorful costumes prance around on stage like pirate-themed icecapades.
Heavy metal went wrong when it started taking its image too seriously instead of just existing. It takes about two minutes for affected vocals and face paint to become quaint no matter how tough or dangerous some of these guys try to be in their promo shots. Artifice and affectation are by definition not genuine and no matter how fickle the public seem, no matter how facile their tastes appear to be people want “authentic”, they crave genuine art. The more metal bands tried to cross over the line of decency and step into dangerous territory the more ridiculous they looked. How can you take a band seriously that looks like Kiss after being stood up for a date and left on a street corner in the rain? For that reason it’s been impossible for the general public to take anything even remotely related to metal or even heavy guitars seriously. The last time they gave it a chance it was Nu Metal. To the buying rock radio public it’s “fool me once face painters shame on you, fool me twice and I’ll never be able to explain those old photos to my future children”. So why would the money people take a chance on something like that? But if only they knew about Serpent!
Serpent doesn’t go in for that phoney-baloney crap, they just plug in and let ‘er rip. Here’s what they’ve got going for them: good vocals with no bullshit affectation, killer riffs and an unobnoxiously heavy sensibility. Not to overstate the importance of this band but they could … possibly … save rock and roll from the dustbin of history. We’re so fractured into our little subgroups within the rock and metal community that it’s like we’re all speaking different languages trying to continue to build and maintain this once shiny tower we call Rocking Out and having an awesome time. We could use a new Guns & Roses to unite the hard rockers, or at least get them out of the closet, even if it’s just as a gateway drug to a whole other thing. Serpent could be that band. Let’s be relevant again. Let’s be cool again rockers. Hell, Serpent could save the world if only the cultural gatekeepers would let them ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
10. MOON CURSE – Spirit Remains
In his 2011 book Missing 411, David Paulides hints at a mysterious force that is either abducting people in the woods or at least compelling them to go missing. If a forest could speak it would sound like Psychedelic Thunder, Moon Curse speaks this language. In the time between their 2012 demo to today they have learned to let songs breathe and like the idiosyncratic cherubs they are, they do it in their own way. Much of what defines ‘Spirit Remains’ for this rabid fanboy is the ethereal atmosphere created by loosening things up by extending compositions without falling into labyrinthine song structures. The result is a hypnotic album, twinged with a darkly mysterious edge that becomes addictive. I think we may have found the answer to the Missing 411: the compelling voice called Moon Curse ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
9. SALEM’S BEND – Salem’s Bend
It’s impossible to keep up with the dozens of new bands that appear on bandcamp every day, many are terrible, some are decent and a few are excellent. So, if you’re like me you can’t be bothered to sift through the rubble because you end up getting buried … and then you find a band like Salem’s Bend and it’s bonanza time again.
Here’s a band that sounds like what if Joy Division had an actual vocalist, Tony Iommi finger fuckin the fretboard and first appeared during the high tide of Glam. And you want dynamics? Salem’s Bend is practically a liquid. “Dynamics” is just a buzz word until it’s wielded by these spritely upstarts. They bring the hooks, leads and bridges with a sick dangle and it’s for those reasons and more that Salem’s Bend is one of the excellent ones. I know it’s brand new but I can already say that this is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. So much of this doom and stoner music is about restoration of faith, if you’re only going to take a chance on one new band this year, well, you’ve just found them ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
8. 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)
7. BRIMSTONE COVEN – Black Magic
Whatever you do, don’t look into her eyes. Or do and be prepared for a truly primordial slab of occult metal churning out paralyzing black magic riffage unto the masses. Combining the guitar crunch of classic Deep Purple with a diabolically molten tone dripping with moody blues-based solos, Black Magic will meld your mind with supernatural groove. Unearthly bass lines primer the voracious guitar leads while disenchanted vocal chords polish the mystical atmosphere. Black Magic’s slow rumbling fuzz echoes incessantly into the running for album of the year in the first month of the 2016 doom charts ~ Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect)
6. MAMMOTHWING – Morning Light
Just when you thought you’d heard it all and the riffs couldn’t possibly get any better, a little band from Nottingham called MAMMOTH WING comes along and brings you ‘Morning Light’ (2015 – Kozmik Artifactz/Bilocation Records). What a release! The very first song, “Cosmic Vagabond,” sold me with it’s soulful, Harvey Milk-style emotion and sludgy, bluesy doom licks a la Weedeater. Holy Goat, you NEED this LP in your life! Enjoying the hell out of this right now… ~ Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned)
5. KIND – Rocket Science
Much has already been said about KIND, with their debut album riding high in many ‘best of 2015’ lists despite being released fairly late in the year. And the accolades are deserved. The combined talent and experience in this band is staggering and the sum total is just a damn good album from start to finish rather than something that will blow your mind. Consistent goodness of riff, dark psychedelia and iconic reverb soaked Roadsaw vocals, KIND would be a superb band to experience in a live setting ~ Clint (Hand of Doom Radio)
4. ISAAK – Sermonize
Italy has one of my favorite music scenes right now, with an incredibly robust underground heavy music culture. A few years ago, Isaak were newcomers (known then as Gandhi’s Gunn) and now they’ve gigged their way to the status of revered riffmeisters (some have been known to show up to shows just to see Massimo’s beard (which I hear could be a great name for a spin-off band). Isaak started 2015 with a split release with Mos Generator, so I was especially excited to find them starting the New Year with a truly incredible record on Small Stone Records. ‘Sermonize’ it’s called. Normally, no one likes when you preach them a sermon, but I strongly suspect you doomers and stoners out there need to hear Isaak’s message. Good god, if songs like “Fountainhead,” “The Peak,” or even that pesky “Whore Horse” don’t warm you up on these cold winter days and nights, nothing will! ~ Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned)
3. WITCHCRAFT – Nucleus
I’s shockingly refreshing to hear something so forward-thinking from a band you associate with retrograde sensibilities. In my simple-minded, redneck history of the universe I consider Witchcraft to be the godfathers of Scandinavian Retro Rock. It’s like Magnus Pelander said, “look, let’s pretend J. Geils Band and Adam Ant and their ilk never happened. Let’s pretend rock & roll never castrated itself and start from scratch.” Witchcraft then proceeded to release three timeless albums in quick succession before taking some years off to return with a whole new band and a whole new approach. Now, four years later, Pelander has scrapped that sound and returned once again with a whole new band and a whole new sound. I can say with little doubt that ‘Nucleus’ is the heaviest, doomiest and most muscular effort from the band to date. It kicks on every level and when it releases on January 15 the earth will ache. This is the condensed, purified vision of Witchcraft released from the burdens of homage or influence and unleashed like a bastard into a ceaselessly brutal world ready for a scrap ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
2. BARONESS – Purple
Yellow and Green left fans and critics divided with a major shift in style. I liked the album but I understood people’s frustrations with the album.
Enough has been said about the terrible bus crash they were involved in 2012. Let’s just focus on Purple. Have Baroness returned to past glories of the Red and Blue albums? I think they have in a major way as Purple contains intense heavy sludge riffs that Baroness are known for. You still get the familiar dual twin guitar riffs courtesy of John and Pete. New members Sebastian and Nick add a sense of order and calm to proceedings that was missing on Yellow and Green.
Opening track – Morningstar – shows you what we’ve been missing. Psych based Sludge riffs with the band writing great lyrics to match. The album can be quite heartfelt at times especially on the standout track Chlorine and Wine. Which sees John reminisce about some tough times from 2012’s bus crash. Other great songs to check out are: Shock Me and Kerosene. Purple is a stunning return to form and one that has been brilliantly received by fans and critics alike.
I wasn’t expecting much from Purple but it surprised me in a huge way. I know some folks have complained about how the album sounds. With it being distorted in some way. I can’t hear anything wrong with the production of the album.
Purple is a must-have album. No question ~ Steve Howe (Outlaws Of The Sun)
1. EGYPT – Endless Flight
Thank Horus we didn’t have to wait six years for another album from this titanic midwestern trio. In these dark, snowy days it’s fucking beautiful to have a little Egypt in our lives because ‘Endless Flight’ is a double shot of whiskey to tired bones. Nothing hits the spot quite like the smooth, warming flavor of this thick, heavy blues metal concoction. This is a swampy, muggy, ballsack sticking to your thigh album which proves once and for all that music is magic, Egypt are sorcerers and we can achieve mind over matter if we have the right soundtrack. ‘Endless Flight’ will boil the snow. Now where’s my dew rag? ~ Lucas Klaukien (You May Be Dead & Dreaming)
And these are the frighteningly foul fiends that made this list happen and who give voice to the underground:
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); Pat Harrington (Electric Beard Of Doom); Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist); Lucas Klaukien – ‘LK Ultra’ (Stoner HiVe, You May Be Dead & Dreaming); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Lyk (Phantasmagoria); Mari Knox Knox (Doommabbestia); MeteorJadd (The Ripple Effect); Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned); Rod Reinhardt (Captain Beyond Zen); Skip (The Burning Beard); Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun); Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus); Tanguy Dupré – “Mr Fuzz” (More Fuzz); Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter, Stoner HiVe); Ulla Roschat (Wicked Lady) and Vasilis Durden (All the Heavy Lifting).