“The process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination”
You have come to the right place, acolytes of the Apocalypse. This is Doom Charts, a global collective of bloggers, album reviewers, podcasters, and radio show hosts with their fingers on the pulse of the heavy underground.
Another year has come and gone and I think the consensus among the contributors here at the Doom Charts is that 2016 has been an amazing year for the heavy underground scene once again. Before the “Best of the Year” score sheet is published we offer up the final month list of the year. Plenty of new releases by newcomers and veterans alike, with several repeat showings from last month. As always, we can’t listen to everything, but we try our damn best to sort through the offerings to make it a little easier on you all to find the best and the brightest in the current landscape.
As always, each member of the charts submits their rankings of new and recently released records in the doom-stoner genre (or as many of us call it, “the seventies vibe” and “the Sabbath sound”). The consensus of picks has become the December Doom Chart. This month, the list includes both signed and unsigned bands, big labels and small, independent ones. We hope you discover your next obsession in the list that follows.
25. STONE CREAM – RUST (NEW)
(Greece) – Independent
Stone Cream came out of nowhere just recently late in the submission period to garner enough love to make the top 25. There is not a lot of information on these guys based on their bandcamp page, but the music speaks for itself.
What we have here folks is a fine demonstration of Greece taking the lead in the battle of heavy, gritty, and groovy stoner rawk. Sweden held the #1 spot for some time, but Stone Cream just made a statement. The riffs echo like steel cones crushing stone into cream, dried over rusted walls of whiskey soaked vocals. Stone Cream dela creme.
-Bucky Brown, The Ripple Effect
24. THE WIRING – WITHDRAWAL FROM CONTINUOUS CIRCULATION (NEW)
(Wiesbaden, Germany) – Independent
Doom/Stoner Metal Duo – The Wiring release their debut album – Withdrawal From Continuous Circulation. The band comes from the same school of riffology of bands as Black Cobra, High On Fire and SardoniS. You can expect thirty eight minutes of fast-paced modern sounding doom/stoner metal with a touch of psychedelic theatrics. The band adds a gloomy atmosphere to their music and it elevates their sound to a more doomier environment.
With these guys being a duo, the one thing that impresses from the start is how loud the guys actually are. You would think there are more members to the band. But Nope. Just the core duo of A and R.
The overall sound of the album is stunning as you can feel each heavy pounding drum beat and guitar riff coming at you. Withdrawal From Continuous Circulation is an excellent debut album. It will appeal to a wide range of fans in the Doom/Stoner Metal community.
-Steve Howe, Outlaws of the Sun
23. IRONAUT – IRON VESSEL (NEW)
(Los Angeles, California) – Independent
Los Angeles has long been called the “City Of Angels” but it has recently bestowed upon us all a rather darkened amp worshiping trio of crusty blackened punks named Ironaut. And these guys are not fucking around with their highly volatile style of groovy speed freak biker metal but that should really be expected once you realize who is in this band. Formerly of The Sixth Chamber, guitarist Pat McHugh, bassist/vocalist Erik Kluiber (ex-Gypsyhawk / White Wizzard), and former Level drummer Ivan Najor are just musically merciless in this genre-distorting three piece…
Ironaut are yet another incredible discovery I have made recently and based on the versatility exemplified on this EP, I have no doubt that this band will gain ground quickly with their widely appealing balance of varying genres. For fans of High On Fire, Mastodon, and (the) Melvins.
-Dragon (Metal Nexus)
22. COJONES – RESONATE (NEW)
(Zagreb, Croatia) – Sonic Doom Records
After what seems like a lifetime Croatia’s Cojones return with a brand new collection of life affirming fuzz’n’roll. ”Resonate” is an album packed to the rafters with well written and arranged songs coated in hard driving rhythms, crunching fuzz drenched riffage and powerful full on vocals. “Resonate” is everything you would expect a Cojones album to be… and then more.
-Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist)
21. FATSO JETSON – IDLE HANDS (NEW)
(Los Angeles, California) – Heavy Psyche Sounds
Now twenty-one years into their existence as a band, Fatso Jetson are continuing to move forward and tomorrow. The eagerly anticipated album is the band’s first full-length (with 11 songs/56 min.) since 2010’s “Archaic Volumes” and for this effort founding parties Mario Lalli (guitar/vocals), Larry Lalli (bass) and Tony Tornay (drums) are joined for the first time on record by Mario’s son, guitarist Dino von Lalli (also of BigPig). Also, Sean Wheeler (Throw Rag) and Olive Lalli (sister to Dino, daughter to Mario, etc.) provide guest vocals, and in addition to the Lallis and Tornay writing, producer Mathias Schneeberger at Rancho de la Luna reportedly contributed ideas for the record as well.
-Dragon (Metal Nexus)
20. MEGATHERIUM – SUPERBEAST (NEW)
(Verona, Italy) – independent
Prepare for the new album by Megatherium. Superbeast is perhaps one of the most apt names for an album this year as this album contains an avalanche of heavy noises and far-out riffs. From the spaced out psych sounds of opening track – Prayer For The Ox, you’re instantly drawn into Megatherium’s world. The album lasts for an epic sixty minutes or so.
Expect top-notch heavy psych grooves that you would expect to hear from the Italian Doom/Stoner Metal scene.
Other standout tracks to check out are: Ghost Of The Ocean, The Wolf And The Deer, Slow Down and the majestic closing track – Retrosky. Superbeast has a vast different styles of music contained throughout the whole album. Fans of Ufomammut, Conan, Slomatics and even A Perfect Circle will find much to enjoy on Superbeast.
– Steve Howe, Outlaws of the Sun
19. SLOMATICS – FUTURE ECHO RETURNS
Future Echo Returns” is certainly my favorite Slomatics record, and in a year that has already seen some phenomenal releases its confidently staking its claim to sit alongside the likes of Conan, Slabdragger and Mantar as one of the albums of the year.
-Simon Ross Williams (Outlaws of the Sun)
18. SUNFACE – OBSERVATORY (NEW)
(Akershus, Norway) – Independent
Sunface fill every nook and cranny of “Observatory” with dark swirling swathes of doom-tinted refrains, supported by complex rhythmic patterns and gnarly bass lines, that are then coated in gloriously gothic type vocal melodies that although are not always an easy listen are nonetheless a rewarding one. Check ’em out ….
-Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist)
17. WHITENAILS – FIRST TRIP
(Québec City, Québec, Canada) – independent
One of the coolest things about a band from the heavy/stoner/doom rock underground ‘making it’ is getting to hear what they’ll do with a big label recording budget and producer to help elevate what they’re already doing right. WhiteNails gives us an advance listen to that exact result without having to wait for a major music company to take notice.
With boundless swagger that’s a 98 on the Wyndorf scale, this is immaculately conceived balls-out rock that’s as mature, accomplished, and well-produced as anything from the 5 or 6 bands who’ve gotten to the big leagues through years of toil and substantial infusions of money, touring, and luck. Their tiny bio says they came together over a mutual love of Sabbath, but that doesn’t remotely do justice to what they actually deliver: unhesitating, hard-driving rock piled high with addictive riffs, melt-in-your-mouth choruses, and undeniably solid instincts. WhiteNails = stadium-ready.
– MeteorJadd, The Ripple Effect
Get It Here
16. THE WATCHERS – SABBATH HIGHWAY (NEW)
(Bay Area, CA) – Ripple Music
The Watchers’ debut EP release, ‘Sabbath Highway’ was released on November 4th of this year through Ripple Music. What a tease into the future of this group, my lord. Tim Narducci (vocals), Jeremy Epp (guitar), Cornbread (bass), and Carter Kennedy (drums) have themselves an almost overwhelmingly good set of songs here. You may know their names from other projects and bands, but this is new and theirs alone. Their ‘Sabbath Highway’ EP is a fuel card for your road trip to heavy.
The first song on the EP is the title track, ‘Sabbath Highway’, and while the title may send your imagination off to reminisce on those masters of doom-laden brilliantly simplistic song-writing, this here be Watchers’ trickery. ‘Sabbath Highway’ pays homage in title and theme, but it immediately peels out of the gate with the horsepower of a 454 big-block and keeps that gas pedal floored for just over three minutes. It’s fast and forceful, with riffs for days, bass to rattle your chest plate, and drums to flatten your soul. Then Mr. Narducci starts singing… the man simply roars. Clean tones with a beautiful range, and his vocals truly align with the music emanating from Jeremy, Cornbread, and Carter. The quartet complements each other magnificently. Get this record now.
-Leanne Ridgeway (Doomed and Stoned)
15. ATLAS – DEATH & FEAR
Atlas’ fresh take on metal takes everything that was great about the previous two releases and makes it ten times better. The riffs will have your head soaring and your head humming for days on end.
-Bill Goodman (The Evil Engineer)
14. WYTCHORD – DEATH WILL FLEE (NEW)
(Columbus, Ohio) – Overlook Hotel Records
A fantastic representation of what three talented musicians in their own individual rights can do when they combine forces collectively..everything is firing on all cylinders and the result is intense grooves, intriguing lyrics, and hard rocking.
-Dragon (Metal Nexus)
13. MOON COVEN – MOON COVEN (NEW)
Sweden’s Moon Coven have raised the bar high with their debut album creating an album brimming over with brooding, atmospheric grooves of stonerized doom coated in ethereal, almost Gregorian, vocal colouring. With the world we live in currently proceeding to crumble to pieces all around us we may soon need a soundtrack to which we can march towards an oncoming Armageddon, this could be it!
-Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist)
12. BACKWOODS PAYBACK – FIRE NOT REASON (NEW)
The 2016 return of the mighty Backwoods Payback, “Fire Not Reason“, is a multifaceted trek into a mostly high energy exercise of intense musical goodness. At just thirty minutes in length, the trio of players pack a lot of wallop into its 9-song sonic sojourn but they augment its impact with nice textural variances. Hence the result is another fine release from the band that is sure to please the aforementioned longtime fans as well as intrigue and slake any newcomers’ need for interesting, enjoyable music. In closing, Backwoods Payback are the very embodiment of the truest DIY work ethos in every sense of this time honored approach to doing, and handling things from within their own camp’s capabilities and as such, deserving of our respect and support.
-Dragon (Metal Nexus)
11. THE HAZYTONES – THE HAZYTONES
(Montreal, Canada) – Anachronik Records
Fuzzy, tape-hiss inflected riff-rock, simmering and buzzing with vintage character. You can almost imagine The Hazytones playing some wood-paneled middle-American dive bar at the same time Bobby Liebling and his pre-Pentagram crew were first picking their way through 20 Buck Spin.
To be clear, this isn’t just another band reveling in heavy-handed 70s worship. The Hazytones craft dark, rebellious anthems that juxtapose a 21st century nowness with an irresistible sense of grimy rustbelt towns, carpeted van interiors and the general lack of life paths that makes high-school slackers start rock bands.
Stylistically, Uncle Acid and Mephistofeles are great reference points. Singable, straightforward tunes full of echo-laden vox and riffs that thrum with the organic realness of a 1970s that may only exist in our minds. Instant classic status.
–MeteorJadd, The Ripple Effect
10. ROAST – ROAST (NEW)
Roast burns us with 4 tracks of unadulterated heavy blues, caramelized with brain melting solos sautéed in proto-doom. The Zeppelin esque’ squelch seers with Pentagram harmony on the debut EP steeping in Sabbath worship and smoldering with heavy psychedelic aroma. The young dudes from CA manage to concoct a flaming set of irresistible tunes. Mesmerizing artwork to boot! Wow! Big future ahead!
-Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect)
9. WASTED THEORY – DEFENDERS OF THE RIFF
(Delaware, USA) – No Slip Records, Doomsayer Records
Fat riffs are fatter, the hefty rhythms are heftier, and the whiskey-drenched vokills are dead drunk with X’s on their eyes. Rife with one anthemic ode after another, the faithful are fantastically well rewarded for their loyalty with this musical masterpiece of sonic greatness…prepare to have your love and reverence for Wasted Theory blown off the register with this new effort.
– Dragon, Metal Nexus
8. GOYA – DOOMED PLANET
(Phoenix, Arizona, USA) – Opoponax Records
If you think you’ve heard everything this band has to offer, think again. The new EP by Phoenix doomers Goya has surprises in store. From the first moments on, it’s apparent Goya is meaner, nastier, and doomier than ever before. Doomed Planet shows just how tight the recently gelled team of Jeff Owens, Nick Lose, and Sonny DeCarlo has become.
Jeff’s always been a great sound engineer, but I swear this is the best sounding Goya record yet. Each instrument comes across with crystal clarity, the bass, guitar, and drums rumbling together like a fearsome storm, the fuzzy feedback like a swarm of insects flying overhead to escape the torrential rainfall, the riffs (some of the best I’ve heard from Goya) like the pummeling of hail from the heavens. The grizzled old prophet rises from his sidewalk home and, pointing his bony, shaking finger toward the dark horizon, heralds the coming judgement.
-Billy Goate, Doomed & Stoned
7. YEAR OF THE COBRA – IN THE SHADOWS BELOW
(Seattle, Washington, USA) – STB Records
Who could believe one man, one woman, a drum kit and a bass guitar could make such an ass-kicking beautiful noise together. Jon Barrysmith and Amy Tung, the only two members of Year Of The Cobra, have together made what could one of 2016’s ‘underground’ albums of the year with In The Shadows Below. Two people filling an album with hard driving rhythms and thundering low end riffage would be enough to make anyone stand up and applaud but Year Of The Cobra are not just a riff machine content to lay down a raucous heavy groove , these guys know how to write a song and “In The Shadows Below” is full of them.
-Frazer Jones, Desert Psychlist
6. BORRACHO – ATACAMA (NEW)
(Washington DC) – Kozmik Artifactz
For starters, the sound is not as arid as ‘Oculus’ and, although the fuzz is still definitely there, the faster and groovier pace of most of the songs gives ‘Atacama’ a fuller, heavier sound. To me, ‘Oculus’ has a distinct blues foundation which, on ‘Atacama’ gives way a little in favour of a more stoner / doom sound, particularly on the track Descent.
‘Atacama’ is another step in the right direction for Borracho. I loved ‘Oculus’ but this latest release offers more variation, a fuller guitar tone and an abundance of riffs to keep even the most wasted stoner animated.
-Steve Woodier (Shrieks From Below)
5. DOMKRAFT – THE END OF ELECTRICITY
(Stockholm, Sweden) – Magnetic Eye Records
I’m pleased to see this one arrive at such a promising starting point on the Doom Charts. Domkraft have a red-hot sound that cuts through mountains like some mutated version of the guitar-fueled war machines of Mad Max: Fury Road. One imagines the chase takes place, in this case, through blinding snow-drifts and over towering ice monoliths. From the first damning note of ‘The Rift’ onwards, we hear the band living up to its name – quite literally, as it turns out (dom represents ‘judgement’ and kraft ‘power’). Vocal howl like Godflesh and Conan, accompanies by riffs that slay as hard as anything you’ll hear this year (and a fitting sequel to the band’s debut last year).
“The End of Electricity has plenty of brain to accompany its brawn, too. The trio of Martin Wegeland (bass/vox), Martin Widholm (guitarist), and Anders Dahlgren (drummer) draw upon a rich net of inspiration that, surprisingly, includes very little in the way of conventional doom. Domkraft arrive at this unlikely destination by way of Hawkwind, Swans, and Spaceman 3, giving the new record great heft, to accompany its underlying earnestness and conviction.
– Billy Goate, Doomed & Stoned
4. ASTEROID – III
(Örebro, Sweden) – Fuzzorama Records
Asteroid has used their time wisely since their highly regarded second album II (2010), honing their musicianship and taking their time to create some rich textures. You can just about hear the fingers on the bass strings in the moody opener to ‘Pale Moon.’ Like All Them Witches, they revel in the natural sounds of their instruments, letting the bass and drum interplay flow with a virtuosic groove that has more in common with the most accomplished classic rock than scruffy underground fuzz heads. They sparingly unleash the fuzz effects, most notably on ‘Wolf & Snake,’ giving me a fond flashback to Sungrazer. The album ends with a bang with “Mr. Strange,” chock full of changes from guitar harmonies to space jams and “whoa whoa” vocals. III should seal Asteroid’s spot in the top tier of heavy rock bands not just in Sweden, but the world.
– Tony van Dorston, Fast N Bulbous
3. SNOWCHILD – AGE OF CHANGE (NEW)
Snowchild burst onto the scene recently with their debut output Age of Change. Mastering all facets of classic doom, heavy blues, and hard edged rock n roll, Snowchild deservedly enter the podium in 3rd spot this month. Big things to come for these guys. Labels are already at arms over who is going to pick these guys up.
Amazing blend of doom styles , yet always maintaining a Sabbath vibe throughout. I also am reminded of Pallbearer at times.
-Papa Paul (Doomed & Stoned)
Kansas trio Snowchild throw stoner, psych, blues and hard rock into a big melting pot, chuck in a big dollop of groove and serve it molten hot!
-Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist)
2. CHILD – BLUESIDE (NEW)
(Melbourne, Australia) – Kozmik Artifactz
Child are back, and have they somehow managed to top their magnificent debut album? Too right they have. ‘Blueside’ is the most fierce heavy blues outing I’ve ever heard. Slow burning tracks that all build to inferno levels, five tracks of heaven and hell right here. Heartfelt vocals (and great backing vox too!), Bonham feel drumming, pumping bass, and a cathartic, exhaustive guitar tone at the edge of breaking at its peak (check out the tail end of ‘Nailed to the Ceiling’) or crystal clear like a mountain spring (queue the start of ‘The Man’). One of the best albums of the year (quite possibly THE best!) and for mine, Child have definitely claimed album cover of the year courtesy of yet another artistic triumph from Nick Keller. This is an album delivered with focused intent by people overflowing with creativity, skill, feel and passion for music, right across the board – the band themselves, sound guru Dav Byrne, musical collaborators in Neil Wilkinson, Harmony Byrne and Joe Cope, artist Nick Keller, and the believers that bring the physical product to life in Kozmik Artifactz.
-Clint (Hand of Doom Radio)
1. GEEZER – GEEZER
(Kingston, New York, USA) – Ripple Music / STB Records (vinyl)
It’s very ironic I’m writing a review for the Number 1 album for December 2016 Doom Charts as this album is also my Number 1 album of the year. Geezer’s debut album is one that has struck a huge chord with both fans and Doom Charts contributors alike. Not surprising when Geezer have delivered a cosmic blast of Doom/Stoner Spaced out Blues Rock.
Geezer channel the sounds that you would expect from legendary bands such as Monster Magnet and Blue Cheer but with a more playful and heavier attitude. Geezer excels themselves on tracks such as One Leg Up, Sun Gods and Dust. The album is one wild ride with the band playing a wide range of different sounds and they create an album that ranks as a wholly original hard rocking experience.
-Steve Howe, Outlaws of the Sun
Special thanks to the ongoing contributors to the monthly Doom Charts, including:
A.S. Van Dorston (Fast n’ Bulbous); Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned); Bill Goodman (The Evil Engineer); Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect); Clint (Hand of Doom Radio); ‘Doktor420’ (Stoner HiVe); Doombeard (DoomBeardZine); Dragon (Metal Nexus); Gram Pola, Son of Sam (Dirty Denim); Pat Harrington (Electric Beard Of Doom); Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist); Leanne Ridgeway (Doomed & Stoned); Lucas Klaukein – ‘LK Ultra’ (Stoner HiVe, You May Be Dead & Dreaming); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Lyk (Phantasmagoria); Mari Knox Knox (Doomed & Stoned); Martin Petrov (Rawk’n’Roll – the ‘pass-me-that-bottle’ webzine); Melissa (Doomed & Stoned); MeteorJadd (The Ripple Effect); Papa Paul (Doomed & Stoned); Rod Reinhardt (Captain Beyond Zen); Skip (The Burning Beard); Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun); Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus); Steve Woodier (Shrieks From Below); Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter, Stoner HiVe); Tanguy Dupré – “Mr Fuzz” (More Fuzz).
The December 2016 edition was compiled and edited by Bucky Brown.
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