This is perhaps the strangest list that we’ve published so far. 18 new entries compared to previous months. It’s a testament to the brilliant new music that we have listened to over the last few weeks or so. It shows bands within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal world have released some breathtaking albums already. Some can be considered Album Of The Year material and we are only 3 months into 2016.
I could of used a famous quote to open this article with. But, NOPE, not today. I’m going to let March 2016 Doom Charts List speak for itself. Read the reviews and check out the bands that we feel deserve your attention. DOOM ON!!!
~ Steve Howe
25. BANQUET – Jupiter Rose
Banquet’ s first album will surely be labeled a retro album and it is , but it is more than that. The level of originality in Jupiter rose screams a contemporary if not futuristic release. There are all the elements of a seventies hard rock album and even some NWOBHM riffing and vocal style. But there is more a feeling of moving forward rather than backwards. ~ Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned)
24. GREEN YETI – The Yeti Has Landed
Imagine that you are going for a carefree walk in your town. As you are enjoying your unsuspectingly calm stroll, all of a sudden, something unbelievable heavy, falls on the top your head and you are losing consciousness. The last thing you think you have heard, is the sound of a 56k dial up modem connecting and some tribute riff to “The Druid” of Sleep.
Welcome to the debut album of Green Yeti, “The Yeti has Landed”. For the next 62 minutes, you will experience the psychedelic hallucinations from a massive hit you didn’t see it coming. The trio from Athens, which has gathered experience through three different bands of the Greek underground (Brotherhood of Sleep, Stonenrow, Reversed Nature) delivers an album that perfectly combines a stoner doom structure with the finest seeds of psychedelic rock.
As a result, fuzzed out heavy riffs, mesmerizing vocals and trippy production is on the table, but not just by jamming on a single riff. Here the things unfold in a more progressive perspective, and the album is divided to four labyrinthine compositions with the smallest of them clocking 9 minutes. Having said that, someone would expect songs that would be difficult to follow, but once more Green Yeti proves the assumptions wrong, by providing an album with an astonishing flow.
If I had to make a song recommendation this would be the album titled track. And I have to tell you folks, along with all the other things I mentioned before, I really appreciate the honesty of this album title.
The (Green) Yeti has landed violently on our heads, and it’s the heavy soundtrack to our psychedelic concussion. ~ Vasilis Durden (Heavy Lifting CLV)
23. SPIDERGAWD – III
22. DRYASDUST – The End
21. BRIMSTONE COVEN – Back Magic
Some of us demand Sabbath-style doom and can’t get enough of it. Haters be damned. Thing is, Wheeling, West Virginia quartet Brimstone Coven brings us that and so much more. Here we have a great record, with epic doom contrasted with moments of sublime occult rock. It’s a well-balanced album and I think I’m enjoying it even more than their first offering on Metal Blade Records ~ Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned)
20. STONE MAGNUM – Holy Blessings To None
Stone Magnum are bringing the excitement back to heavy music, with a record they’re calling ‘Holy Blessings to None’.
Here, you’ll encounter a battleground of heroic riffs and mournful cries on guitar, joined by an adamant rhythm section – even black metal speed drumming, as the moment requires. Match that with vocals that lie somewhere between Messiah Marcolin of Candlemass and Martin Van Drunen of Asphyx, with storytelling reminiscent of King Diamond, and you’ve got yourself one great, big, bloody slab of righteous heavy metal!
The best bands are the ones who are able to blend many elements together while still remaining true to themselves. Stone Magnum has done exactly that, deserving to be mentioned in the same conversation as bands like Crypt Sermon and Stonegriff. The next time you hear someone complaining, “There just aren’t any good metal bands these days” or (my favorite) “There hasn’t been a worthwhile doom act since [fill in the year of your choice],” do us all a favor – hit them over the head with these epic riffs! Holy Blessings to None is a flag of victory for American Doom.
– Melissa (Doomed & Stoned)
19. High Priest Of Saturn – Son Of Earth And Sky
18. ELEPHANT TREE – Elephant Tree
Elephant Tree – Elephant Tree
I was fortunate enough to witness Elephant Tree play live in Manchester a couple of weeks ago where they were one of many highlights during the course of the day, but were the only band where you could close your eyes and just soak up the emotion dripping from riffs that soared through the clouds like the towers of a godly Citadel. So it is with their self titled album ‘Elephant Tree’ which is an album of majestic, yet brutal heaviness.This is a celestial roller coaster ride, all you can do is gaze around you in awe, mouth agape as you become swathed in cosmic gossamer. Listening to ‘Elephant Tree’ you imagine stars collapsing all around you, being violently sucked into Black Holes and then gently cradled back to freedom.
‘Elephant Tree’ is an Empryean tome of Supernal hymns, and will be worshipped by the congregation.
~ Steve Woodier (The Shrieks From Below)
17. CONAN – Revengeance
The United Kingdom’s ancient metal warriors have returned in all their primordial fury! I admit, I was initially skeptical that Conan would have anything new to say, but god damn it, ‘Revengeance’ has made me a believer. The songs are definitely signature Conan, but with the kind of battering ram force hinted at in Blood Eagle. Doubters need only hear “Thunderhoof” to be persuaded, but surprises like this one abound on the new LP. Gird your loins for action! We now have our battle anthem and we’re going to war ~ Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned)
16. BARONESS – Purple Album
One of my favorite comedians, Louis CK, has a bit about how we Americas overuse power-filled words until they lose most of their meaning. “Amazing” is one of his examples – if you say, “it was amazing!” were you actually amazed? Really? Doubtful.
Pertaining to Baroness, I was going to use the word “infectious,” but does it have any real power left? The first time an album reviewer explained a song he couldn’t get out of his head by using a term meant for describing diseases, he probably had a self-congratulatory intellectual orgasm of no small scope.
But that was long, long ago, I’m sure, and my calling the new Baroness album “infectious” today would be like your grandmother calling her new Facebook account “really cool!” No, grandma, it’s not cool at all.
So forget infectious. The point is, Baroness fans, like Mastodon fans and Kyuss/Queens of The Stone Age fans, fall essentially into two camps: those who dig the evolution of a band who once couldn’t stay far enough away from accessibility into one that’s embraced writing hooky, approachable songs, and those who don’t. (I guess there are three camps, if you include the folks who never heard of Baroness or Mastodon until Rolling Stone was endorsing them. I’m not including them.)
Well, I’m in the former camp, and I have numerous friends I take flak from for it. I never loved the noodly, fuzz-progginess of the older Baroness stuff, nor its lost-in-a-cavern vocal approach that sounded almost like an afterthought because, hey, who in the heavy rock underground cares about singing anyway?
But they evolved.
Dune. Flash Gordon. Krull. Battlestar Gallactica.
The new Baroness is packed full of songs that would work as soaring battle-anthems in any of those (and yes, I need more current reference points).
Galloping tempos, skyward-swelling melodies, sweeping, singable choruses over washes of fist-thrusting crescendos… wow. Refrains that weld themselves to your hippocampus somehow co-exist with instrumental passages chopsy enough for the most boundary-pushing instrumentalists. It’s a welcome evolution from where they started.
Who can turn a climactic sludge-rock ascension into a pop song? Baroness. Name a band who transitions in a few short years from stoner-prog titans into Pitchfork’s hipster-metal darlings? Baroness. And what group is prescient enough to self-release their best and most ambitious album to date on their own new label at the exact right moment in their career? You know the answer.
Some would say that Purple delivers on everything their previous work hinted at, but frankly, I never guessed that Baroness had this in them. Well done, guys. Somewhere, Josh Homme and Brann Dailor are smiling ~ MeteorJadd (The Ripple Effect)
15. CHURCH OF MISERY – And Then There Were None
Founding member and fuzz worshiping bass player Tatsu Mikami has always had a revolving-door policy regarding band members and this time has decided on a clean sweep. But fear not children of the night, a masterly stroke has brought together Dave Sulkin of Blood Farmers on guitar, Dave Little from Earthride pounding skins and Scott Carlson from Repulsed on vocal duties.
No inventing the wheel here – COM still take their Sabbath worship very seriously and the riffs are drooling zombies wearing concrete boots, kicking your head in. The sound is huge and weighty and Sulkin really excels with his guitar playing – soloing like a maniac over his impressive riffing.
Carlson seems a natural on the vocals – some of the best COM have had for a while. Lyrically of course, the subject are serial killers and cult leaders but ya knew that already. With a seemingly never ending tidal wave of bands with “Classic/Hard/Retro Rock’ tags being somehow deemed to be Doomy but just sound like fucking weak copies of Uriah Heep b-sides, this record is a cathartic release for me and I hope the line-up survives more than one album. With the right amount of menace created by the sound clips intertwined throughout the narrative I say worship at this church and embrace the misery. ~ Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter, Stoner HiVe);
14. BLACK TUSK – Pillars Of Ash
Black Tusk are back after the tragic events of 2014 and have returned to play some heavy based sludge punk with some elements of metal thrown in to make sure you are not getting too comfortable.
The tracks are primitive monsters, light on solos but fucking heavy on the riffs. If early Discharge covering High On Fire floats ya boat, keep on reading this.
The sonic production is awesome – thick, aggressive and full of low-end battering to shake your pretty little eardrums to bits. Fuzzed guitars have the distortion dial on 11 but never so far up in the mix that the bass and drums get lost.
With song titles like “Born Of Strife” and “Bleed On Your Knees”, you need a vocalist who sounds like a rabid dingo tearing at the corpse of clean singing while drinking moonshine lager mixed with the dregs of a hundred used bongs – and guess what – they have!
13. R.I.P. – Into The Wind
West Coast Street Doom fucking rips!
What is it?
It’s the smoke-belching illegitimate butt baby of Motorhead and Saint Vitus, swaddled in denim and leather and baptized in lysol, cough-syrup and mouth-wash. This motherless filth has been punch-fucking my earholes pretty much non-stop since I first got the promo and there’s no end to the abuse in sight. It’s to the point now where I’m even starting to like it …. ~ Lucas Klaukien – ‘LK Ultra’ (Paranoid Hitsophrenic)
12. WITCHES OF GOD – They Came To Kill
I remember … when Witches of God’s first album came out in 2013 my online buddy and fellow hoser Jeff Warren considered this band the future of underground heavy. Combining punk fire with stoner postures it stroked against the grain of popular trends at the time. I remember how disappointed he was that none of the blogs aside from his own (much missed!) Broken Beard made a bold statement by declaring it the album of that year. In fact I think it’s one of the reasons he withdrew from reviewing: in his eyes, he was seeing the collective underground voice failing to exert its influence and subtly demand new noise by pointing in that direction. On this, their second album Witches of God solidify their own identity, crafting something totally unique on the landscape today. Full marks to this band. It turns out Jeff Warren is a genius prophet. Check out L.A.’s reigning sleaze champs at the link below today or be square ~ Lucas Klaukien – ‘LK Ultra’ (Paranoid Hitsophrenic)
11. VALLEY OF THE SUN – Volume Rock
One thing people say about cocaine is that, because the first time doing it is such an unbelievable, life-altering experience, you’ll always be chasing that original sensation.
For me (and a lot of others), Kyuss were pure fishscale in heavy rock form. They were that first untouchable, golden-glowing high, so every stoner rock listening experience since has been an effort to recapture that feeling.
What floored me the first time I heard Valley of the Sun, was that they channeled the Kyuss vibe like little else I’d encountered. I’ve changed a lot in twenty-three years, but VotS’s “Hearts Aflame” got me as close to the ecstasy of “Gardenia” and “Whitewater” as I’ve been since Sky Valley obliterated my conception of what heavy rock could be.
Valley of the Sun have evolved, and that’s a good thing. I love them for giving me that desert blues feeling one more time, but I respect the hell out of them for the blazing new path they’ve created with Volume Rock.
To an inattentive listener, Volume Rock might initially sound like a collection of high-energy driving songs. But it’s more ambitious than that. They’ve taken the spontaneity of their desert rock beginnings and merged it with thoughtful song-crafting that recalls the best grunge bands. The riffs are crisp, infectious and mature. The explosive Chris Cornell-meets-John-Garcia vocals shine without dominating.The hooks are fucking endless.
Valley of the Sun could’ve mined familiar territory for several albums. But instead, they made the bolder, harder choice to burn off some of the desert fuzz in favor of a lean, city-charred slab of balls-out, addictive rock. Good for them. Better for us.~ Meteor Jadd (Ripple Music)
10. SON OF A WITCH – Thrones In The Sky
The album opens with the title track ‘Thrones in the Sky, and begins with a wizard like voice proclaiming “Welcome to your doom” before launching into an ‘Electric Funeral’ like riff, setting the tone for the remainder of the album. It’s inevitable that Son of a Witch is going to be tagged with the Sabbath comparison, its there for all to hear, but what Son of a Witch does with ‘Thrones in the Sky’ is drag the Sabbathian sound right into the 21st Century. Each of the 5 quite lengthy tracks on offer sound huge, but with most of the excess fat cut away, giving the instruments a chance to breathe, and thus adding an extra ‘crunch to the sound. All of the tracks on ‘Thrones in the Sky’ are highlights, but the final one, the 15 minute Jupiter Cosmonaut, is a particular favourite of mine, and is one of those tracks that has become something of a rarity with me these days, one that has me hitting the repeat button, check the riff that has been primed since minute 6 and comes in at 10:37 and see if you can resist playing it again and again. Reverb and Wah abounds!
Welcome to your doom indeed.
~ Steve Woodier (The Shrieks From Below)
9. MOUNTAIN WITCH – Burning Village
Mountain witch pulls out the bag of seventies magic in burning village yet they avoid the cliches. The concerns of some regarding the retro movement that it would be stale and stagnant are being alleviated by bands such as mountain witch who incorporate enough of the stoner/doom element to satisfy young and old. Definette Sabbath , Purple ,and Heep riffs from the past incorporated with the modern sounds of Brimstone Coven , Orchid , and Witchcraft. ~ Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned)
8. WITCHCRAFT – Nucleus
Nucleus may not quite glow with the same retro radiance as found on their self-titled or Firewood, but it is both warmer and dirtier compared to their divisive last outing, Legend, and the album is HEAVY. Despite the band’s newfound heft, the album is well balanced and is in no short supply of melody and hooks. Keys, flute, theremin, and cello are tastefully interwoven throughout the tracks adding both texture and depth. For those who view Legend as a misstep and a blot upon an otherwise impressive discography can rest assured as Nucleus steps in as the album that Witchcraft should have recorded following The Alchemist ~ Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus, Heathen Harvest)
7. SWAN VALLEY HEIGHTS – Swan Valley Heights
Elements of Truckfighters fuzz swirl with a progressive grunge laced vocal which howls a wicked melody. The slow pace doomy riffs morph in and out of stoner fuzz and psychedelic prog sounding somewhat how the cover art looks! This is amazing! ~ Bucky Brown (Ripple Music)
6. MONOMYTH – EXO
The Monomyth guys have arrived at their destination in a galaxy far far way. Exo is the completion of a three staged journey towards that goal. The self-titled debut and follow up Further they explored the universe of great sounds, amazing rhythms and a hypnotizing atmosphere without losing sight of the fact that those trips needs to explode on occasion. And, Exo is without a doubt the bigger, better, serener and wilder one of the three. There is more room for everything, which gives the album that superb edge. Reaching their peak and stating Exo is the last stop, we need to pray to all we hold dear that the boys have seen some weird glimmer of green light on the horizon. And that they will aim the Monomyth spaceship towards that new mystery after they are done with Exo. Cause we all need more of this! – Joop Konrad (Stoner HiVe)
5. EGYPT – Endless Flight
The phrase “power trio” is often bandied about for any old act consisting of three players, but if there’s any current band truly deserving of that designation it would be Fargo, North Dakota’s Egypt. The band’s second full-length, Endless Flight, spotlights everything that the band has done so well since the release of their debut self-titled EP. Endless Flight, with its doom-tinged, blues driven hard rock, is not much of a departure from the band’s excellent 2013 full-length Become the Sun, but it does come across as meticulously refined almost to the point of perfection. Egypt has, from the very beginning, proven to be the real deal and the band continues to hone their sound—the musicianship on Endless Flight is staggering and is in no short supply of obliterating riffs and extended jams ~ Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus, Heathen Harvest)
4. ORANSSI PAZUZU – Värähtelijä
A cosmic and crepuscolar saga started nine years ago and today it returns with “Värähtelijä”.
A Masterpiece, that sounds like an inner journey. A portrait of nature, cosmos, the great unknown. Surrounded by cathartic atmospheres and a musical composition that turns you into a dense and enigmatic spiritual sensation. Seven tracks that form a magical icon, dissonant and decadent, with their harshness and disturbing identity.
Their music has always been a ritualistic experience, a perfect blend of cutting psychedelia and glacial black metal that sands you in orbit leaving without glimmer of light. “Värähtelijä” is a work that’s goes beyond all expectations, overcoming the past, evolving in an authentic sound delight, where nothing is left to chance.~ Mari Knox Knox (Doommabbestia)
3. SLABDRAGGER – Rise of the Dawncrusher
UK Sludge/Stoner Metallers – Slabdragger – may have released only one album “Regress” back in 2011 but it has given the band an almost legendary status within the UK Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. People have been waiting for their new album for a long time now. And that time is finally upon us for Slabdragger to release their new opus. People expecting the same sort of album as Regress maybe disappointed as Slabdragger have created something heavier and more brutal than their debut album.
It’s a great job that – Rise Of The Dawncrusher – has a huge sounding name as it’s a huge sounding album. This album simply crushes everything around it and that includes Conan’s amazing new album. Slabdragger have created perhaps one of the loudest Sludge/Doom Metal albums you’ll hear this year. The band include slabs of prog metal, sludge, doom, psych and even Stoner Rock. The vocals are mostly harsher and depressing growls though some clean vocals do appear. The songs range from 12 mins to 17 mins in length.
From the opening riffs of Mercenary Blues – you’re dragged in kicking and screaming into Slabdragger’s world. And for the next hour or so, the band will take you on a wild addictive nightmarish ride into the dark vortex of Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal with moments of Spaced Out Rock holding everything together.
There’s no point in describing how different songs sound like as this is an album you need to listen in full without any interruptions. Slabdragger have created perhaps the album of the year for me. Yeah, I know it’s too early to tell but I’m sticking to my guns and saying this album will be in my Top 3 albums of 2016 if not No 1. Rise Of The Dawncrusher is a classic album in every sense of the word ~ Steve Howe (Outlaws Of The Sun)
2. YOUNGBLOOD SUPERCULT – High Plains
Topeka Kansas 4-piece Youngblood Supercult morph the heavy blues-based, hard-driving classic rock sound of the debut album ‘Season of the Witch’ into a highly intoxicating bend on stoner rock, laced with occult vibes and dripping with super fuzz. ‘High Plains’ summons a mid-western folklore essence forged of heavy groove, dusty riffs and mind bending atmosphere. The psych factor blends its swirling doom soaked rhythm with a sandstone polished vocal tone slugged out by new singer David Merrill. Rumors of a European vinyl pressing later this year are circulating with hopes of getting label support in the USA for a local distribution deal. I’ll tell you this, working with Ripple Music, my ears have been glued to Youngblood Supercult since catching wind of High Plains. Take note of these guys and gal, they have something going on for sure. ~ Bucky Brown (Ripple Music)
1. GREENLEAF – Rise Above the Meadow
I showed up to the Greenleaf party when ‘Nest of Vipers’ had just been released and it was a stunning beauty. Their last album left me cold for whatever reason, I don’t know, maybe it was the mood I was in when it came out. ‘Rise Above the Meadow’ isn’t just a return to form, it’s a trailblazer that sees the super-Swedes embrace their Dozer roots, crank up the fuzz, turn the screws on the hooks and carpetbomb stereos with balls out heavy rock. This one’s a goer ~ Lucas Klaukien – ‘LK Ultra’ (Paranoid Hitsophrenic)
Thanks again to everybody who contributed to this month’s list, these folks help give voice to the underground, so support them by checking out their respective sites:
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); Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist); Joe Owen (The Blog of Doom); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Lucas Klaukien – ‘LK Ultra’ (Paranoid Hitsophrenic); Lyk (Phantasmagoria); Mari Knox Knox (Doommabbestia); Melissa (Doomed & Stoned); MeteorJadd (The Ripple Effect); Pat Harrington (Electric Beard Of Doom); Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned); Rod Reinhardt (Captain Beyond Zen); Skip (The Burning Beard); Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun); Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus, Heathen Harvest); Steve Woodier (The Shrieks From Below); Tanguy Dupré – “Mr Fuzz” (More Fuzz); Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter, Stoner HiVe); Ulla Roschat (Wicked Lady) and Vasilis Durden (Heavy Lifting CLV).