“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
— Anaïs Nin
Here comes May. The wind is still fresh but the sun rises high in the sky. The golden rays nurture the soils and nature awakens. It’s time to install the summer tire set and do the oil change on our rides. I’m sure you’ve never been so happy to be back at mowing your lawn or preparing your yard or doing whatever you need to do outside in order to be ready for June knocking at our doors. It almost feels like if we are out from a long cryogenic sleep. The long pandemic winter is over. The widespread access to immunization is making the return to normalcy a more and more tangible thing. Fuck yes, we’ll soon gather in a feast of friends! The hope flows in our veins!
May is the month the most associated with fertility and I can insure you our Stoner/Doom scene has been very fecund. It’s like all these pregnant bands decided to give birth at once. Fuck guys, the nursery is full! My guess is they all wanted to be ready to take back the road. I know they are eager to show us in person their new babies but for now, let’s enjoy these digital pictures that have been brought to us along this past month.
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…
25. SURFSQUATCH – REVEALED / NEW!
(Surf Rock, Doom, Stoner)
Lumbering out of the California redwoods with no warning, Surfsquatch’s debut knocked it out of the park. Sharp, staccato stoner riffing with deep clean vocals in the vein of Clutch, the band’s grooves are creative and downright addictive. Just try to not nod along and crack a grin at “She’s The Devil”, I dare you.
24. PEREGRINO – PEREGRINO / NEW!
(Stoner, Grunge, Psychedelic)
Both spaced out and tonally heavy, Peregrino bring the far out, grungey grooves on their self-titled. Float along with Llévame or headbang to the pounding Fotosíntesis, these guys are tight and loose in all the right places with their mix of psychedelia and stoner. The cherry on top is the soaring vocals, guiding you along their mesmerizing trip of an album.
23. JUKE COVE – REMEDY / NEW!
(Desert Rock, Alternative, Heavy Psychedelic, Stoner)
Germany’s Juke Cove tear up the rule book with a collection of songs that refuse to adhere to stereotypical labels or tags, you get it all here doom, hard rock. prog, metal, punk and garage rock all blended together in one relentless tsunami of raw and raucous groove. If this is the remedy then i want the disease.
22. OAK – FIN / NEW!
(Desert, Stoner, Doom, Metal)
The UK have always been particuliar in terms of rock and all that is heavy. Here we have three well balanced songs that deliver awesome raw energy. Sharing rock with us since 6 years now, they have a growing audience and fanbase. Everything they create is pure pleasure! Fans of Baroness and Mastodon will surely appreciate the vocal arrangements!!!
21. CIRITH UNGOL – HALF PAST HUMAN / NEW!
(Doom, Heavy Metal, Sludge)
Proclaim the name Cirith Ungol to any legitimate Heavy Metal fan in this age and you will witness reverance become present. Trailblazing pioneers, this living embodiment of mysticism-made-metal… seasoned warriors wielding weapons of monumental sonic significance. Need proof? The “Half Past Human” EP is here and contains four profoundly phenomenal testimonials, tenets that span time… just as Cirith Ungol does. Never dated nor relegated irrelevant, fans would never know these numbers first began in decades past. Dusted off during quarantine then reimagined, these modern adaptions only add to the longrunning magic and mastery that is the legacy of Cirith Ungol.
20. STÖNER – STONERS RULE / NEW!
(Desert Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Heavy Psych Sounds)
Mojave Desert, CA
The band ‘Kyuss’ are considered pioneers of the desert/stoner rock style. Now Brant Bjork (ex Kyuss, Fu Manchu) on guitar, Nick Oliveri (Mondo Generator, ex Kyuss, QOTSA) ripping the bass and both contributing vocals and Ryan Güt (Brant Bjork’s drummer) got together and formed the band ‘Stöner. This holy trinity of desert rock have their debut studio album Stoners Rule out in June. The album screams sludgy riffing with a neck breaking rhythmic section and all things 420. A live version of the album was released as Vol.4 – Live in the Mojave Desert recorded last fall and released recently on Heavy Psych Sounds as well. Bongs and rolling machines must have factored into the layer upon layer of hazy desert love. The album art reminds one of the ‘Kyuss’ 1992 release Blues for the Red Sun. I can’t wait to drop the needle on this. Note: They will be supporting Clutch on their upcoming 2021 U.S. Winter Tour.
19. BOOK OF WYRMS – OCCULT NEW AGE / NEW!
(Doom, Heavy Psych, Occult, Desert Records)
Occult New Age is a luscious blend of seventies rock, occult metal, doom, psych and all that’s good and heavy into the spiked kool-aid we all need to drink from time to time. Together with the folky touches, this little diamond will make you flashback to all those great acid parties you might not even have experienced. You should spend a few bucks on this, let yourself loose, throw back your head and screech out the Book Of Wyrms name. Do that three times in a mirror and they might turn up in your living room for a live concert. Who knows? An Occult New Age is dawning…
18. A BETTER TOMORROW – SPIRITUAL CROSSING / NEW!
(Doom, Jazz, Stoner, Metal, Soul, Gospel)
Mention jazz-rock or fusion in rock circles and people automatically think of the long improvisational noodlings of bands like John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra or Billy Cobham’s Spectrum but the fusion we are dealing with here is whole different beast. On “Spiritual Crossing” France’s A Better Tomorrow fuse riff heavy stonerized metal with elements of jazz, soul and gospel to create a sound that although still musically complex is nonetheless uncomplicated and accessible, a band who can do that swing thing but can also rock the fuck out!
17. JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES – VERTIGO / NEW!
(Metal, Occult, Hard Rock, Blues, Svart Records)
Led by their high priestess and singer Jasmin Saarela, the Finns present us with an album with retro sounds in which the protective power of the vintage organ muffles the sounds of their brilliant guitars. As if it were vaudeville, the songs dispense with artificial elements to offer us the most poetic and lyrical side so far. Their melodies ride on the back of a docile steed between oscillating rhythms always guided by the seductive voice of Jess. JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES build their songs in the dark, but unlike other occult bands, they make their songs fun.
16. SNAIL – FRACTAL ALTAR / NEW!
(Classic Metal, Acid Rock, Doom, Grunge, Psych)
Snail might be one of the best kept secrets from the nineties. The Seattle based trio has been around for three decades. Admittedly with a few pauses, but the experience they took from the different era’s really shows on their latest album Fractal Altar, which contains diverse and well crafted songs. Primarily this can be considered a stoner rock record, but Snail wouldn’t be Snail if there weren’t any influences from subgenres grunge, indie or doom to be found. Well done once again Snail.
15. ATOMIC VULTURE – MOVING THROUGH SILENCE / NEW!
(Stoner Rock, Instrumental, Space Rock, Heavy Psych)
Instrumental stoner three piece that power their sonic vessel with a stunning combination of hard driving, snaggle toothed riffs and bombastic bass and drums. Supplying just the right amount of low end force to break you free of earth’s gravitational pull.
14. SAVANAH – OLYMPUS MONS / NEW!
(Doom Metal, Stoner Rock, Stone Free Records)
The prodge is strong with this one and man oh man, does it deliver the goods with stunningly elegant swagger. This intense, finely crafted release is expansively psychedelic yet manages to at the same time display a stylish panache, an unbelievable tightness and mega heft with purposeful vision that’s singular and crystal clear. Savanah bring chugging riffs, expressive vocals and a thick, pounding rhythm section to the summit on Olympus Mons with firm roots in doom/stoner rock and even more post rock flavours we find ourselves traversing surprisingly through some even slightly math-rock moments. Savanah absolutely break the mould with their unnervingly natural largesse and classy, almost sensitively navigated explorations. Olympus Mons is a masterpiece in the pursuit of aural bliss.
~THE DOOM ORACLE
13. MONSTER MAGNET – A BETTER DYSTOPIA / NEW!
(Hard Rock, Space Rock, Stoner, Metal, Napalm Records)
When Stoner Rock journeymen like Monster Magnet choose to pay tribute to those responsible for initially influencing them, forget about any of the same recycled usual suspects.”A Better Dystopia” is an homage to some rather obscure standards from yesteryear and one is nearly guaranteed to make a new discovery for themselves. Whether it is vintage, classic tracks from more recognizable names like Pentagram, Hawkwind, Dust, or “anti-hits” from such fringe groups as Morgen, Table Scraps, or The Scientists, these are essential songs. Integral bands taken on too, including numbers from now-cult icons like Poo-Bah, Josephus and Jerusalem…. A D.I.Y. dedication devoid of mystery, this crash course in rock and roll history!
12. HIGH N’ HEAVY – V / NEW!
(Doom, Skate Rock, Hard Rock, Stoner Metal, Electric Valley Records)
New Bedford, Massachusetts
Once more, Chris Fortin picks up his staff and rallies his fellow riff-wizards on their fifth full-length ‘V’. After 2019’s excursion into the grim realm of the ‘Warrior Queen’, they return with their energetic riff worship. Be it the creeping riff of ‘Cleansed With Blood’, Fortin’s emotive grunge howl on top of the graveyard-organ of ‘Screaming Moon’, or the lulling riff-worship of ‘Power of Arachnid’, High N’ Heavy have certainly carved out their own mystic wizard doom sound. And there aren’t enough madcap subgenre descriptors in stoner doom, because these fellows from New Bedford, MA have certainly earned their own. I hope their journey isn’t over soon.
11. DOMKRAFT – SEEDS
(Progressive Rock, Metal, Hard Rock, Blues Funeral Records)
Domkraft’s seeds is a dazzlingly indecent traipse into a deeply disturbing soundscape of crepuscular creepiness and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. Seeds comes on like the comforting dark of night, the cradle in which a tortured soul, beleaguered by all the world’s torments retreats to nurse itself back to health. It’s the soundtrack you’ve dreamt about repeatedly in disjointed fever dreams and Orwellian nightmares but can somehow only recall upon waking by the feeling of desperate emptiness that it’s been lost to the night and perhaps never to be encountered again. There is something so raw, earnest, and urgent about each note on this release, that it feels like it’s being ground into your psyche, but in slow motion, with no remorse, and on a cinematic scale. Seeds begins by casting a lusciously textural net of an almost obscenely well crafted, searing riff layered with hefty, driving rhythm and provocatively commanding vocals. The album provides in a mercilessly challenging way that seems to beat the ever-living breath out of you with tracks like Perpetuator, Into Orbit and Dawn of Man only to be lured into a false sense of safety from an instrumental Krank Blekhet, then chewed apart and spat back out again by Audiodome, at its conclusion, left bereft and speechless and in a painfully deafening silence longing for more. Without a doubt, we’re going to be hearing about this release all year and into end-of-year lists if not at the top of them.
~THE DOOM ORACLE
10. KHIRKI – Κτηνωδία / NEW!
(Hard Rock, Metal, Folk Metal, Alternative)
Technically proficient heavy metal with frenetic riffs, progressive basslines, tribal drums, and powerful vocals. This is going to blow a lot of minds. Imagine a clean-cut Kvelertak meets Elder.
9. LUCID SINS – CURSED! / NEW!
(Doom, Retro Rock, Heavy Psych, Occult)
Exploring hard-progressive sounds born in the 70’s, the Scots create a warm, lofty and brilliant album. His dark and silky songs walk down a path that the Germans KADAVAR already traveled in their last albums, although here, the Progressive echoes are much more evident, becoming the leitmotif of ‘CURSED!’. An album in which everything flows without fanfare, with soft melodies, but which hide a very solid rhythmic background in which psychedelia contributes its grain of sand. The songs always offer us unexpected twists that change their sound aspect making the listener get hooked.
8. MOON COVEN – SLUMBER WOOD / NEW!
(Doom, Psychedelic, Stoner, Heavy Rock, Ripple Music)
The versed Swedish doom metallers Moon Coven are back in the saddle. Were they sleeping in a dark forest for all these years, slowly gathering a dark energy in their inner selves? No idea, but sure thing, they ain’t fucking around with fairies tales. With their occult riffs that are mighty and expansive; they will drag you in a slow atmospheric darkness you won’t be able to breakout from. Surrender to this perfectly executed psychedelic doom album!!!
7. ROBOTS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD – MYSTIC GODDESS / NEW!
(Heavy Psych, Stoner Rock, Doom Metal, Desert Rock, Small Stone Records)
ROTAW are back and they urge us to worship the Mystic Goddess. The songs are vibrant, almost hallucinatory and absolutely groovy. The album is wrapped up with sublime vocals. Sure thing, these Portland’s heralds of the galactic riff offers us an uncanny blend of Desert Rock, Heavy Psych, Stoner Rock and Doom Metal that is purely blazing. Yup, something to put in the AOTY end list!!!
6. DR. COLOSSUS – I’M A STUPID MORON WITH AN UGLY FACE AND A BIG BUTT AND MY BUTT SMELLS AND I LIKE TO KISS MY OWN BUTT / NEW!
(Hard Rock, Stoner, Doom, Metal, Simpsons)
These Simpsons loving Aussies have put together one of the best albums to come out this month, maybe even this year. The riffs are rocking, the vocals are superb, and the lyrical content is put together very nicely. That’s without even mentioning the diversity, dynamics, and power that this music is full of. Dr. Colossus may be a parody band, but that’s in name only, because this music is no joke!
5. ALASTOR – ONWARDS AND DOWNWARDS / NEW
(Doom, Metal, Occult, Stoner, Riding Easy Records)
A descent into madness? Yes please. Especially when it’s as searingly seductive as Onwards and Downwards, the newest release by Alastor. Scintillatingly accessible yet grimly monolithic, Alastor have painstakingly built a magnificent wall of wallowing richness; an album that simply overflows with densely packed darkness and morbidly melodic hooks. The nightmarish atmosphere and grinding, fuzzy potency of its pristine production set alight maliciously mordant lyrics cut deep with the lament tormented souls, reveling in a frenzied release of the damned. Onwards and downwards is an oasis of skillfully delivered evil euphoria, a glistening river of sanguinary riffs and roiling rhythm. This depraved, distorted trip into darkness begs for repeated play and will doubtlessly achieve cult classic status.
~THE DOOM ORACLE
4. VOKONIS – ODYSSEY / NEW!
(Progressive, Metal, Hard Rock, Doom, The Sign Record)
Vokonis’s Odyssey is truly that. A monumental adventure, a soulful sojourn which feels like a pilgrimage into the heart of exploding stars and burning hearts with a gripping, charismatic power. With an almost narrative quality, Odyssey is guided by both harsh and clean vocals, one after the other, and sometimes in tandem and the listener is hurtled through the Vokonis-verse at light speed held aloft by the sheer beauty of each composition. With the threat of hitting the ground without a safety net lurking painfully around each corner we’re treated to shimmering contemplative moments which display a gorgeous sensitivity that’s equally vulnerable as it is vicious. Masterful writing throughout reveals a thoroughly pounding rhythm section and crushing, catchy riff sequences swirling deftly around haunting, heady, supernatural Hammond and mellotron arrangements. With Oddysey, Vokonis have created lush and dreamy shadow world from which I do not want to wake.
~THE DOOM ORACLE
3. JACK HARLON & THE DEAD CROWS – THE MAGNETIC RIDGE / NEW!
(Hard Rock, Heavy Psych, Progressive Rock, Forbidden Place Records, Psychedelic Salad Records)
With a sound that inevitably recalls ALL THEM WITCHES in its heaviest facet, the band knows how to play with blues elements, forays into territories that are close to the dictates of doom, but above all, with heavy psychedelia and desert riffs. , but that also offers us moments of dark-folk. This new album is the perfect soundtrack for a trip through the desert after a generous intake of peyote. Its expansive and heavy sound at the same time, offers us atmospheric moments more typical of Color Haze, but also innumerable riffs full of the rawness of the most orthodox stoner. As each song explores different intensities, the roller coaster of its harmonies takes us in flight to an environment in which heaviness is combined with the psychotropic.
2. DUNBARROW – DUNBARROW III / NEW!
(Doom, Metal, Hard Rock, Blues for the Red Sun)
Trondheim, Norway’s Dunbarrow were a welcome addition to the proto-doom scene when they debuted in 2016 with a well executed sound that starts with Witchcraft and also draws on the likes of Cream, Uriah Heep and more obscure but swingin’ blues rock and proto-metal from Leafhound and Toad. The creamy guitar tones and hooky vocal melodies are strong as ever, and the band is stretching outward into subtly more progressive territories with an assist from Auver Gaaren on keys and mellotron on opener “Death That Never Dies” and Steeleye Span-style prog folk on “Turn In Your Grave.” Dunbarrow are rubbing elbows with the masters now, ensuring this fairly specialized subgenre continues to flourish into the decade.
~TONY VAN DORSTON
1. HIPPIE DEATH CULT – CIRCLE OF DAYS / NEW!
(Doom, Metal, Hard Rock, Heavy Psych Sounds)
This album fucking shreds. Can I just say that? I’m gonna just say that. Through a weighty, kaleidoscopic tapestry of nostalgically laced oblivion, Circle Of Days displays a fearless, fully progressive basted allure with intricate melodies and intense vocal layering channeling flavours of the late, great Layne Staley and incomparable Chris Cornell and even at times, weirdly reminiscent of Perry Farrell. There’s an obscene amount of vocal skill and accomplished musicianship at play on Circle Of Days revealing a vibrant uniqueness which seems fearless, driven by inventive reverence; not homage. This notion spans the entire release with a manic yet beautifully succinct palate of nostalgically referential moods. Alongside positively roasting riffs which run an impossibly gnarly gamut of Sabbath, The Allman Brothers, and even a Slash-like essence we find dulcet, dancing keys which hover weirdly between absolutely menacing and utterly joyful, nestling perfectly amongst fervid, rumbling basslines, basted with Zeppelin-esque atmospherics in places on this incredibly varied and dynamic release. Circle of days is a journey through shameless and triumphant artistic expression, exploration and discovery and comes full circle with five tracks of evocatively retro yet freshly imagined deliciousness. Hippie Death Cult manage to capture our hearts and minds once again with this phenomenal release.
~THE DOOM ORACLE
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); Bill Goodman (The Evil Engineer); Billy Goate (Doomed & Stoned); Bob “Mr. Weird Beard” Baker (More Fuzz Podcast); Bobby Rayfield (Trendkill Radio); Brandon Collins (Super Dank Metal Jams); Bucky Brown (The Ripple Effect); Clint Willis (Hand of Doom Radio); Chris Beck (Doom Tomb Podcast); Chris Latta (Ghost Cult Magazine); Chris Tighe (The Mighty Decibal); The Doom Oracle (Spectral Ecstacy)Doomsday Jesus (DoomsdaysJesus); Duncan Evans (Alternative Control); Eric Varasiftsky (Stoner Rock Army); Frazer Jones (Desert Psychlist); Geoff Leppard (Atom Heart Mutha); Graur Zaur (Crypt Guard); Günther “Doktor420” (Stoner Hive); Héctor “Mr. Heavyhead” Hurtado (More Fuzz); Hugo Hulleman (Metalfan.nl,Orange Maze); Jamey Morris (Fistful of DOOM); Jay Morgan (High Desert Valley Radio); Jim Thompson (Heavy in the Hills); John Gist, (Vegas Rock Revolution); Jonny Pirie (Hour of the Riff); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Ken Elliott (Heavy Planet); Kyle Twadelle (Stoner HiVe); Leanne Ridgeway (Riff Relevant); Magnus Tannergren (Into The Void Radio); Marc-Eric Gagnon (Stonefly Effects); Marc C. Pietrek (VITRIOL, INC / A DARK UNITED FRONT); Mark Partin (The Ripple Effect); Matt Slighter (Cheeto) (Hwy 420, Core of Destruction Radio) Matthew Thomas (Taste Nation); Mathieu Van Der Hert (Dutch European Stoner Rock); Mel Lie (Sunday’s Heavy Tunes); Mel Lie (Sunday’s Heavy Tunes); Mike Williams (I Talk to Planets); Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker (The Ripple Effect); ‘Papa’ Paul Rote (Doomed & Stoned); Reek of STOOM (Doomed&Stoned, Stoner Hive); Remi (Remi VL); Roberto Lucas (Denpa Fuzz); Roberto Fuentes (La Habitación 235); Robert Pannell (Doom Loom); Rod Reinhardt (Captain Beyond Zen); Roman Tamayo (Doomed & Stoned); Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun); Shasta Beast (Stoner Hive); Steve Rodger (God’s Holy Trousers); Steve Woodier (Shrieks From Below); Tanguy ‘Mr Fuzz’ Dupré (More Fuzz); Tom Hanno (Tom’s Album Reviews); Tom Schmahl (Rock Circuz); Tony Maim (Black Insect Laughter, Stoner HiVe); Tony Van Dorston (Fast n Bulbous); Wombat Tarantino (Wombat Cult)
Feel free to send in your albums to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.