Doom Charts 2019 Favorites – Shasta Beast

Check out Shasta Beast, who write for the excellent Stoner Hive Blog Top 25 albums below. He’s got quite a few on here that may be the first time featured on the Doom Charts. A testament to how many great albums are being recorded these days.

Welcome to Doom Charts, representing some of the finest bloggers, journalists, radio, podcasters and album reviewers from the heavy underground around the globe.  Each month, our critics submit their picks for the best new doom, sludge metal, stoner-psychedelic and heavy 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…

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25. Samowa – Smoking the Matchlock Bong
Top graduates from the school of Sleep, the german gents in Samowa put out their debut with little fanfare, but thanks to a friend with an in I was able to catch a whiff of their seriously heavy, seriously stoned doom. The blown out riffs, bassy bounce, and even vocal lilt of the stoner forefathers is all present, yet Samowa make the sound their own with a unique injection of thrash and middle eastern melodies.

separator24. Grey Stag – The Boats
Another late but great addition, upon pressing play on opener “Skyburner”, I found I was wholly unprepared. An absolute avalanche of groovy sludge that sounds like the unholy spawn of High on Fire and early Mastodon, these Irishmen are firing on all cylinders. Making the most of only three tracks, the cuts run from shortest to longest in length, leading the listener through the  all-out assaults of the first two into the twelve minute epic “The Boats”, a doomy climax that ends the record all too soon.

separator23. Serpent Worship – Serpent Worship
With only a two track “Demonstrations” EP under his belt, the one-man wizard of doom that is Serpent Worship served up an unexpected Thanksgiving treat. Feast on the slabs of droning riffs that sound like they were dragged out of some twisted, tentacled nightmare dimension, peppered with creepy samples I can only assume were pulled from the vilest of B horror movies. With every listen to this hypnotising instrumental doom, it feels like I’ve stumbled into some dark ritual, and I’m in no rush to leave.

separator22. Holy Rivals – Holy Rivals
Short but sweet, the Pittsburgh trio’s self-titled is a harsh shot of attitude and wit chased with a varied mix of punk, sludge, and grunge. Swinging between the lighter indie/grunge passages of “Sideways” and the heavy stomp of “Shit”, there’s an undercurrent of danger throughout that adds an extra edge to all the curveballs. Not least of which is that indispensable nugget of wisdom offered by “Gummer”: “don’t touch your bum before you eat”.

separator21. Nebula Drag – Blud
To my eternal regret, this is my first ride on the Nebula Drag weirdmobile, but what a ride it is. Fusing the pervasive desert rock of Kyuss with haunting psychedelic tendencies and earworm choruses, Nebula Drag make a fascinating and truly unique sound out of all these influences, which is no small feat in the stoner rock genre. The eerie, keening vocals are a particular standout, and add an otherworldly layer to an album that is a solid work of hard rock craftmanship through and through.

separator20. Ahab’s Ghost – Curse
Thar she blows! “Curse” is a high voltage mashup of traditional metal, thrash, and Sabbath, and it’s just damn fun. The dramatic, soaring vocals are never in danger of being cheesy as they tell epic tales over riff after riff after riff, while the lunatic at the drumkit seems to be everywhere at once. This is an album that revels in all that made metal the likes of Slough Feg a blast, and sends it into the stratosphere with impressive skill and infectious energy.

separator19. Primitif – Cercle Vicieux
A last minute surprise, France’s Primitif came out of nowhere in early December to club me over the head with their debut album, a savage mixture of sludge and noise rock topped off with madman vocals that fit the mood perfectly. Between the filthy low end, sledgehammer drumming, and creative hooks, this duo would no doubt be higher on the list if “Cercle Vicieux” had more time to sink in.

separator18. Ole English – Ole English
Following the long tradition of quality music stemming from Louisiana, Ole English put together one of the top debuts of the year with an expertly crafted album of retro doom that’s impossible not to stomp your feet to. The hooks are catchy, the riffs are driving, and the vocals are one of my favorites in recent years. These lads do Iommi and co. proud, but infuse everything with a moody, unique feel that can only be described as the Ole English sound.

separator17. Denim Dan & The Blue Jean Band – Live at the Conservatory
Bask in the flannel, Levi’s, and bong hit soundbyte of opener “Red Wooden Barn” – Denim Dan and crew pack a playful, psyched out punch that’s awash in lethargic, hazy southern groove as heavy as it is warm. A key ingredient is the fantastic vocals of Kyle DeHart, who brings it all up a notch. High and drawling, they’re filled to the brim with personality and stoner charm, and fit the instrumentation perfectly. This is one of my go-to feel good records, and more denim-clad audio from Dan and his band can’t come soon enough.
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separator16. Bow & Arrow – Bow & Arrow
In just their first outing, sludgers Bow & Arrow make it crystal clear they’re a force to be reckoned with. The thunderous bass, grimy riffs, and layered war-cry vocals make for a visceral album with a weighted, borderline physical presence. The menace is palpable, with crashing drums building anticipation for the crush to come, followed by buzzsaw riffs wielded like a bloodied, ten ton battle axe. Heavy with a capital H.

separator15. Yarnspinner – A Massive Head of Steam
One of the most unique sludge records of the year, “A Massive Head of Steam” came out nowhere from New Zealand to deal out massive riffs and memorable choruses, the latter something of a rarity in the genre. The album swings between the more melodic “The Stag of Lee’s Valley” and “Hair of the Tooth” to the all-out assault of “Respect the Whakamanas”, with a foundation of earth-shaking low end and perfectly gritty vocals for a record that keeps you on your toes while never letting up on the heavy.

separator14. American Sharks – 11:11
Ever since their debut way back in 2013, I’ve been waiting for more ripping stoner punk from the Austin, Texas hooligans of American Sharks, and they more than deliver with “11:11”. The riffs are ear-splitting, the lyrics as witty as ever, and the drums pound and push it all forward with a non-stop thrust that’s a straight shot of adrenaline. While you’re at it, check out the music videos for “Masters” and “Spare the Rod” and try not to giggle.

separator13. Grim Earth – Stash of the Damned
This is straight up gnarly, crazy-eyed sludge with a big ol’ sneer on its face, and it carries out its sonic attack perfectly. The vocals retch, the low end is thick as molasses, the drums smash and the riffs saw their way through it all. Grim Earth keep things fresh with a mix of slogging doom, uptempo thrash, and punk sprints as well, and it all comes together to create a flawlessly filthy EP.

separator12. Green Inferno – Demo
This is a band I need to see live, preferably at an especially sturdy venue. All the more impressive for being a demo, the sheer weight that Green Inferno bring to bear in these three tracks of sludgey, stoned doom is flooring, and the Sleep-inspired riffing and paint-peeling vocals combine to create an entrancingly heavy experience. It’s an addictive mix of abrasiveness and nod, and once the end of closer “Spellcaster” rolls around, it feels only natural to let it flow right back to track one again.

separator11. Colfax Speed Queen – Dirty Mirror
My enthusiasm for Colfax Speed Queen’s third LP has only increased with each listen since its first spin in October. Blinding fast drums, punky surf riffs, and eerie synth combine with standout vocals to make a blast of a record that somehow manages to be both playful and lethal in its energy. These guys know exactly what kind of sweaty, manic party they want to throw, and it’s one I’ll glady keep stumbling back to.

separator10. OVEN – Couch Lock
Taking cues from Fu Manchu and Nebula, the Pennsylvanians of OVEN are bursting with raucous, almost garage rock energy on their debut album. Raw production and gritty blues licks help to form a go-to record of laidback, playful rock that’s easy on the ears but delivers a punky punch just when it’s needed. Just check out the cover of Nebula’s classic “To The Center”, a take that gives the original a run for its money.

separator9. Woodcreeper – I
Another album that’s become a treasured piece of my 2019 collection, Woodcreeper’s debut almost snuck in under the radar, but I was fortunate enough to stumble on this uniquely weird, groovy, rifftastic melting pot of heavy. The phrase “one of a kind” is thrown around to the point of cliche, but I can sincerely say Woodcreeper are completely on their own wavelength. You’ll hear stoner rock chug, psych wash, and some Sabbathian doom, but it’s sandwiched between so much else while maintaining a mischievous, distinct identity and upbeat vibe. WTF Woodcreeper, I need “II”!

separator8. King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
Another Gizz album, another well-earned notch in the belt of these insanely prolific Aussies. Following up the laidback boogie of the excellent “Fishing For Fishies”, their second album of the year was one of their most ambitious experiments to date, and they nailed it. The thrash metal homage of Infest The Rats’ Nest has the speed and vocal style that are the genre’s calling cards, but King Gizzard put their own signature spin on it all to deliver an onslaught of fresh and weird riffs as only they can.

separator7. Stone in Egypt – Tectonic Electronic
The name says it all. Stone in Egypt’s fifth release of sludgey doom is a massive slab of low-end riffage that registers on the Richter scale. The gut-churning bass pours out groove like a cement-mixer, and when  Tjeerd de Jong’s vocals venture into Alice in Chains territory, the contrast is perfect. Foregoing any more colorful cliches, this is simply an insanely heavy album that floors me.

separator6. Cooling Tower – Cooling Tower
Little info is available on the mysterious four-piece that is Cooling Tower, and it’s only fitting. This is eerie, cryptic, foreboding doom that crafts its atmosphere flawlessly. Unhurried, it creeps towards the climax, but the journey is what’s important. More traditional doom vocals croon omens over winding riffs that entrance one second and attack the next, and the use of space and anticipation is masterful. A weird and wonderful experience, I’m still wrapping my head around it.
separator5. Earthward – By The Pound
At my first glance, Earthward put together a no-frills hard rock record with a healthy dash of punk attitude, but this gem has far more in store. The wacky earworm hooks of cuts like “Carver” and “Mood Spoon” are pure ear candy as they wind through the deft drumming and under the combative vocals, and the groove of “Fashion Queen” is a hip-shaking good time. Energetic and unpredictable, “By The Pound” is a treasure trove of creative rock that demands and rewards repeat listens.

separator4. Hippie Death Cult – 111
A debut that’s taking the scene by storm, and with good reason – “111” is a gloomy, groovy doom masterpiece informed as much by the swing of the 70s as today’s modern crush. Keys add a classic shimmer to the airtight rhythm section and searing guitar leads, and the chilling wails of vocalist Ben Jackson are like none other.  Hippie Death Cult’s distinct and haunting doom finds itself firmly seated among the genre’s top acts.

separator3. These Beasts – These Beasts
Stampeding out of Chicago, Illinois with an unholy concoction of sludge and noise rock, These Beasts’ self-titled EP is a savage attack that’s as dynamic as it is flattening. Harsh vocals vary between clean bellows and throat-ripping screams, and the hammering drums reinforce the leadweight riffs and oppressive atmosphere. These Beasts audibly lay it all on the line with a gut punch of an album that’s as cathartic as it is harrowing.

separator2. Antarticus – The Frozen Horror
On a quest to face a monster of icy nightmare, Antarticus wield malevolent doom with the help of creeping synths and chilling vocals to birth a concept album seamless in its execution. Across the three-part saga, the mounting tension and sense of danger is conveyed with frightening effectiveness, as spine-tingling guitar and synth worm their way through an audio wasteland of snow and terror. Escaping from the initial “Frozen Horror” to false “Refuge” and the final “Thaw”, Antarticus take us on a immersive journey brought to life by brilliant musicianship and a unique vision of doom metal. Epic in every sense.

separator1. The Grand Mal – The Grand Mal

Upon release, Oxford’s The Grand Mal secured its 2019 throne immediately and without question. This album is a rip-roaring stoner rock tour-de-force – the unforgettable riffs shred and divebomb, the groove is undeniable, and Dave-O’s show-stopping vocal performance is a thing of beauty. Managing to both capture the titular personal trauma and deliver cut after original cut of pure rock fury, The Grand Mal have a sound completely their own that stomps to an undeniable beat.

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Special thanks to the ongoing contributors to the monthly Doom Chart.  You folks help give voice to the heavy underground:
Aaron Pickford (The Sludgelord); Adam Walsh (Earmunchies); Andy Benson (Nerve Salad); A.S. Van Dorston (Fast n’ Bulbous); Bryan Coffey (Indy Metal Vault); Bill Goodman (The Evil Engineer); Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned); Rob Blasko (VolumeForever.com); Bob “Mr. Weird Beard” Baker (More Fuzz Podcast); Bobby Rayfield (Trendkill Radio); Brandon Collins(Super Dank Metal Jams); Bryan Coffey (Indy Metal Vault); Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect);  Clint Willis (Hand of Doom Radio); Chris Beck (Doom Tomb Podcast); Chris Latta (Indy Metal Vault); Doktor420 (Stoner HiVe);  Doombeard (DoomBeardZine); Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist);  Geoff Leapord (Atom Heart Mutha); Gram ‘Son of Sam’ Pola (Dirty Denim);  Héctor “Mr. Heavyhead” Hurtado (More Fuzz); Hugo Hulleman (Metalfan.nl,Orange Maze); Jamey Morris (Fistful of DOOM); Jason Roach (Indy Metal Vault); Jay Morgan (High Desert Valley Radio); Jim Thompson (Heavy in the Hills); Joe Eldridge (Shadebeast Records); John Gist, (Vegas Rock Revolution); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Ken Elliott (Heavy Planet);  Kyle Twadelle (Stoner HiVe); Leanne Ridgeway (Riff Relevant); Lucas Klaukien (Outlaws of the Sun); Lyk (Phantasmagoria); Magnus Tannergren (Into The Void Radio); Marc-Eric Gagnon (Stonefly Effects); Marc C. Pietrek (VITRIOL, INC / A DARK UNITED FRONT); Marcus Greybeard (FuzzHeavy Podcast); Mari Knox Knox (Doomed & Stoned); Mark Partin (The Ripple Effect); Martin Petrov (Rawk’n’Roll); Matt Slighter (Cheeto) (Hwy 420, Core of Destruction Radio) Matthew Thomas (Taste Nation); Matheus Jacques (October Doom); Mathieu Van Der Hert (Dutch European Stoner Rock);  Melissa Marie (Doomed & Stoned); Melissa Spence, (Stoner Witch Radio);  Mike Williams (I Talk to Planets); Pat Harrington (Electric Beard Of Doom);  Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker (Riff Relevant);  ‘Papa’ Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned); Reek of STOOM (Stoner HiVe); Remi (Remi VL); Roberto Lucas (Denpa Fuzz); Roberto Fuentes (La Habitación 235); Rod Reinhardt (Captain Beyond Zen); Samir Asfahani (Super Dank Metal Jams); Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun);  Shasta Beast (Stoner Hive); Steve Miller (Vertical Chamber Apparatus); Steve Rodger (God’s Holy Trousers); Steve Woodier (Shrieks From Below); Svempa Alveving (Into The Void Radio); Tanguy ‘Mr Fuzz’ Dupré (More Fuzz); Tom Hanno (Tom’s Album Reviews); Tom Schmahl (Rock Circuz); Tony Maim (Black Insect LaughterStoner HiVe); Tony Van Dorston (Fast n Bulbous)

Feel free to send in your albums to stonerdoomcharts@gmail.com where they’ll be delegated to the crew above to determine their thoughts and gather the votes at the end of the month. Leave us comments below and let us know what you think about the Charts.

 

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