“We’re musicians. We make music for a living. It’s that simple. Nothing else matters.”~ Eddie Van Halen
Damn right, Eddie. May he be rocking Walhalla, Nirvana or wherever he may be with all the other musical warriors. Many heroes have gone. But heavy rock endures. Is it possible for new heroes like Eddie to rise up? Or is the celestial dome of rock so fractured that it will never be possible for a new great musician to rise to the same level as those greats that have come before? Cause judging from the list below, featuring 23 new albums among the top 25, there is so much great music released monthly… And yes, we say this so many times, every month again, but it is awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing and absolutely amazing to hear all that good and heavy stuff. But will those insanely good albums reach even bigger audiences than this ‘heavy underground’ we all love to crawl around in? Do we want them to? Will the really good ones always eventually grow bigger? Questions, that don’t really matter all that much, cause the honorable Mr. van Halen already said it all: “We make music. It’s that simple. Nothing else matters.” Right on! Doom on!
Welcome to Doom Charts, representing some of the finest bloggers, journalists, radio, podcasters and 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. ALTARETH – BLOOD / NEW!
Sweden’s ALTARETH released their debut album earlier this month, and what a debut album it is! The self-titled song draws you into a vortex of heaviness, bringing to mind the thunderous sound of Acid Mammoth. There are some glorious moments in songs like “Satan Hole” and “Eternal Sleep”, where the band unapologetically wears its Sabbathesque roots on its sleeve. It is, however, in tunes like “Moon” and “High Priest” where the band truly starts to own the genre and find its own unique voice. Excellent work by the rhythm section, with a steady and menacing confidence, driving the tunes as it keeps pummeling all the way from the first note to the very last. Friends of Warlung, Windhand and Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats will find in “Blood” an equally sinister version of the sludgy melodies that all of us in the world of heavy rock adore. Great work on the production as well, with a crisp sound and lots of heavy warm fuzz. Loved the professional artwork on the cover. In all,”Blood” has all the elements to take the band all the way to much bigger audiences. And for a debut album, well, let’s just say that this is an excellent example of how debut albums should sound and look like! Highly recommended!
~ Ioannis Valiakos
24. MORGANTHUS – CELLS / NEW!
(Warren, Pennsylvania, USA)
MORGANTHUS from Warren PA, on the tip of the Allegheny National Forest, are back with a new album, Cells. The first song is a short instrumental track to set the stage. When the bass kicks in to start the second track it is clear what path we are being lead down. A heavy, dark, doomed path deep into the forest of heavy music. Song titles like Witch Tits, Dead and Perfect and Rats, Whores and Corpses confirm the sinister journey. Evil, pummeling Doom for your dark winter nights. The only weak link for me is the vocals, although they do fit the music and are certainly adequate enough to make this a keeper. Doom on.
~ Andy Kovalcik
(Doom, Metal, Psych, Occult)
(Indianapolis, Indiana, USA)
Indianapolis rouges ANCIENT DAYS dropped their new album Sign of the Times on Halloween and its sounds have been buzzing through the night and making our days a little darker ever since! Psyched out, fuzzy guitar tones and eerie keys slink through the shadows, teasing us with occult vibes and tempting us with devilish charm. However the album’s sinister sensibilities are well balanced with some classic 70s style jams creating something wonderfully wicked and groovy at the same time!
~ Brandon Collins
(Metal, Doom, Prog, Psych)
(San Diego, California, USA)
OLD MAN WIZARD creates a heavy prog rock that speaks directly to the soul. The 10 tracks of Kill Your Servants Quietly have incredible melodies and great vocal harmonies. The sound palette is wide and the rhythms are very diverse. Indeed, the band has a rare skill: a totally uninhibited approach to multiple musical genres. (Sometimes switching genres inside the same track). The result is a magnificent album in which the pleasures are constantly renewed. I shudder hearing the slow groove of I Prayed, the dramatic intro of Kill Your Servants, the obscure journey of God Is Your Friend, the folk ballad of Your Life, the crazy rhythm section of Falling Star, the psychedelic frenzy in the midst of Live Forever. So many delicacies! To paraphrase Forrest Gump: “This album is like a box of chocolates.”
~ Thierry ‘Pumpkin’ FRANÇOIS
(Metal, Stoner, Sludge)
(Salem, Massachusetts, USA)
Channelling the occult spirit of bands like Uncle Acid, MOTHER IRON HORSE hook us up right from the start. Maybe you were imagining the band was inviting you to some dark ceremony but think again! Listen only to the virulence of the sounds that comes out those frayed vocal cords and you should know that what awaits you is more a Fight Club session with the devil!!!
~ Marc-Eric Gagnon
20. THE FUR – SONNTAG / NEW!
(Rock, Psych, Kraut, Space, Instrumental)
Do you want to take a pleasant trip to the confines of the cosmic psychedelic and let your mind fly? If the answer is YES, you are in the right place. ‘Sonntag‘ is a new sensory journey through distant galaxies with an exquisite, hazy and completely magnetic soundscape. A sonorous trance in which the best psychedelia of the 21st century is shown within forty magical and captivating minutes. Kraut rhythms are combined with exotic aromas to seduce the listener with beautiful melodies, which are modulated, becoming ever more acid or heavy.
~ Roberto Lucas
(Metal, Doom, Sludge, Psych)
(Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)
Making good on the promise of their 2020 demo, Raleigh, NC’s DOOMSDAY PROFIT usher forth the end times on their debut “In Idle Orbit“. This is plodding, grueling sludge, moving at a doomy pace with psych flourishes and gravelly vocals. Crush and nod is the name of the game, and these guys are naturals.
~ Shasta Beast
(Metal, Prog, Sludge)
(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
What an album! Authentic and honest. Compelling and intense. Fiery and inspired. Hushed & Grim. The new MASTODON is a fifteen track magnum opus that brings us the sound we love from the boys and then turns the table on us. Exploring more exotic atmospheres, borders and genres; making the entire effort even more prog and even more technical than before. But still pounding and sludgy when needed!
~ Joop Konraad
17. DAXMA – UNMARKED BOXES / NEW!
(Metal, Doom, Post, Atmospheric)
(Oakland, California, USA)
‘Unmarked Boxes’ is a sojourn through the darkest night of the soul- a cathartic reflection on grief and hopelessness through to the light and release of resilience and renewed hope. Not to be missed, this album will definitely leave a mark on the hearts of those who take the time to experience it’s electrifyingly emotional wonder and fervent grandeur.
~ Doom Oracle
(Metal, Doom, Sludge)
Your Time To Shine shows this Swedish powerhouse expanding upon their already amazing sound; their use of heavy riffs coupled with mellower, almost psychedelic sections really gives them something special. Then we add in guitar tones that most people wish they could get, some of the best percussion work on the planet, (particularly during the title track), a thunderous, massive bass guitar sound, and you get the makings of greatness!!!
~ Tom Hanno
(Rock, Psych, Stoner, Desert, Instrumental)
(Le Mans, France)
I recently brought the car into the garage to have it’s brakes repaired. The USB had Songs From The Deepwater running when the mechanic started work. Afterwards he demanded to know what band it was and where to buy it. Which is highly understandable, cause listening once to the atmospheric desert rock vibe present on the new STONE FROM THE SKY release will get you hooked. You will soar high with the eagles or glide through the endless depths like a Electrophorus Voltai looking for unsuspecting prey…
~ Joop Konraad
(Hard Rock, Occult, Metal, Doom)
A more colorful reinvention of the band’s sound. This new GREEN LUNG album is loaded with hooks that seduce the listener with a rainbow of vintage sounds. Energetic songs with a retro aroma on a hard-progressive base, heavy-rock and successful vocal melodies. ‘BLACK HARVEST’ is a dynamic, retro, and exciting album that quickly catches you on a journey to the late 70s and the golden age of heavy-rock. The great melodic work, the ability to arrange the songs, and the impressive production, together with the force of its powerful riffs, make ‘BLACK HARVEST’, a serious candidate to top the charts of the best albums of the year.
~ Roberto Lucas
13. KING BUFFALO – ACHERON / NEW!
(Rock, Prog, Metal, Psych, Kraut, Stoner)
(Rochester, New York, USA)
KING BUFFALO has done it again. A magical album brimming with rewarding songs with innovative elements, relentless rhythms that always hit the right punch at the right time, guitars capable of taking you to heaven or plunging you into the most abject depths, and a lofty, hypnotic and magnetically rich bass. They are KING BUFFALO, they sound like KING BUFFALO, but there are many new things, sounds, rhythms, riffs, melodies, that make each song contain a thousand sensations to transmit to the listener. Big candidate for album of the year.
~ Roberto Lucas
12. KANAAN – EARTHBOUND / NEW!
(Rock, Metal, Prog, Psych, Stoner, Instrumental)
Norwegian Psychedelic Spacelords KANAAN get heavy with the fuzz pedals on this latest outing – leaner, meaner and heavier than previous efforts, this is a masterclass in Modern Progressive Psychedelia!
~ Reek of STOOM
11. AIWASS – WAYWARD GODS / NEW!
(Doom, Metal, Stoner, Psych)
(Phoenix, Arizona, USA)
AIWASS, the messenger of Horus brings us the debut release Wayward Gods. Titanic riffs with stellar production take you through the concepts of true will, a formula of growth, consciousness, and love, toward self-realization. Psychedelia into chugging grooves. Fuzzy haunting doom. Wayward Gods is a cathartic cleansing and a look forward to the future through an esoteric philosophy of Thelema.
~ Chris Beck
10. DEVIL ELECTRIC – GODLESS / NEW!
(Hardrock, Metal, Doom, Stoner)
DEVIL ELECTRIC, the four-piece hard rocking band based out of Melbourne Australia, are back with another great release. Godless, their second full length album, picks up right where 2017’s self-titled debut left off. With their heavy riffs, excellent leads, and clean, powerful vocals, they certainly aren’t trying to break new ground. Instead, they are worshipping on the hallowed ground that the heavy masters forged before them. If they were a car, they wouldn’t be so much a Tesla as a vintage Caddy in mint condition with the engine purring and the moonlight shining off the beautiful finish. The second song, All My Friends Move Like the Night, with it’s Pentagram-like riff and catchy vocal melody was my ear worm this month. I found myself waking up with it stuck in my head a few times. I highly recommend you turn down the lights, light a couple of candles and give this a spin so you can hear it for yourself.
~ Andy Kovalcik
9. MESSERSCHMITT – OH DEATH / NEW!
(Metal, Stoner, Sludge, Doom)
On 6 tracks and lasting 28 minutes, MESSERSCHMITT (Norway) offers 100% natural heavy rock. This EP has the power of a tribal stoner / sludge supported by a rhythmic section with 2 drummers pounding at the head of the commando. Some guests put their talent at the service of the band: Kjetil NERNES of ÅRABROT, Thomas ERIKSEN of MORK, Jon Terje ROVEDAL (keyboard on No Tomorrow), Maria BAKKEN (female voice on Oh Death). Variations and power of the rhythms, primary riffs that speak directly to my reptilian brain, each listening calls for a new one. To me, OH DEATH is one of the most addictive albums of the year.
~ Thierry ‘Pumpkin’ FRANÇOIS
(Metal, Doom, Psych, Occult)
Lysergic laced odes to the Horned One, BLACK SPELL‘s dark acid doom grooves are as hazy as they are heavy, as gnarly as they are trippy. turn on, tune in and doom out!
~ Frazer Jones
7. KHEMMIS – DECEIVER / NEW!
(Metal, Sludge, Doom, Black)
(Denver, Colorado, USA)
Released the same day as Adele’s fourth album 30, KHEMMIS also released their fourth album with Deceiver. And like Adele, they reckon with heavy life events and the accompanying dark emotions, but with more majestic riffs. Loosely grouped with a new wave of American doom bands like Pallbearer, Magic Circle and Spirit Adrift, Khemmis were recognized as taking a fresh approach to the genre by blending elements of traditional and epic metal, sludge and blackened death metal. Fans often consider second album Hunted (2016) as their apex, and I think that’s still the case. That doesn’t mean the band hasn’t stopped evolving and improving in certain respects. Their twin guitar showcases are on point, and the vocal melodies and harmonies are stickier than ever. I’m not really a fan of Ben Hutcherson’s harsh screams, but much like peak early 00’s era Opeth, it’s a necessary evil that does provide useful variety and contrast. Overall Deceiver is a successful, satisfying album. But if they want to try something new in the future, Phil Pendergrast could always try harmonizing with another guest vocalist. Maybe they should give Adele a call…
~ Tony van Dorston
6. FEVER DOG – ALPHA WAVES / NEW!
(Rock, Psych, Seventies, Prog)
FEVER DOG play a swashbuckling mix of progressive rock, space rock and a good portion of glam rock on their new album ALPHA WAVES. That may sound bizarre at first, but when the spark has jumped the tricky songs open up and reveal a kaleidoscope of spectral worlds of sound that, thanks to the retro vibes, remind you of the long-forgotten era of the glorious 70s bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Sweet. A beautiful memory!
~ Rod Reinhardt
5. BENTREES – TWO OF SWORDS / NEW!
(Hardrock, Doom, Psych, Seventies, Stoner)
An album that manages to intertwine narcotic heavy-psych moments, with blinding Stoner riffs soaked in fuzz, and a groove more typical of 70’s proto-metal. A narcotic album, with magical psychedelic moments and great agility in the development of its long songs. Keeping the listener attentive and plunged into the plot with long songs is not an easy task, but BENTREES does it with ease. ‘TWO OF SWORDS’ is a heavy, cloudy and gritty psychedelic blunderbuss, but an undeniable 70’s spirit.
~ Roberto Lucas
HEADLESS MONARCH, a collaboration of musicians from California and the internet (as per their Instagram) have released their first full length album, Titan Slug. Comprised of three new songs and three re-recorded tracks, one from each of their previous singles and one from their demos, this album kicks some serious booty. This may not be too many people’s choice for best album of the year, but I think it may be one of their choices for top 25 albums of the year. I totally mean that as a compliment. These three guys have created a really solid piece of work from top to bottom. The songs are well written and they are memorable with crafty hooks and even vocal harmonies. The musicianship and vocals are more than competent. To me they can stand with some of the biggies of the scene. What really gets me though, is how well this is recorded and how it sounds overall. Each instrument and the vocals sound so clear and full, giving the album a killer sound. I hope this unsigned band gets grabbed up by a label and we get to hear more from them soon.
~ Andy Kovalcik
3. BLIND TENDRIL – α / NEW!
(Rock, Metal, Prog, Psych, Stoner)
BLIND TENDRIL proffers up one of the best Debut releases of the year! “α” (meaning Alpha or First) simmers with a radiating, crunching in-your-face take on Progressive Stoner Rock. Magnificent!
~ Reek of STOOM
(Rock, Stoner, Psych, Garage, Surf, Wave)
(Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA)
SNAKE MOUNTAIN REVIVAL stealthily enters the contemporary psychedelic scene with an outstanding debut album. ‘EVERYTHING IN SIGHT’ offers us a gratifying listening experience through intense and inspiring themes, which converge in a square with edges formed by All Then Witches, The Doors, Dead Meadow and, at times, U2 themselves. Between surf guitars that are molded into an acid weapon, haunting voices, propelling dynamics, dark and dizzying atmospheres, his songs, impregnated with psychotropic substances, create vintage atmospheres more typical of the late 60’s. Despite this penchant for the past, the band’s sound is completely contemporary and crystal clear, thanks to their superb production.
~ Roberto Lucas
(Rock, Metal, Stoner, Sludge, Doom, Psych)
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Hailing from Toronto, LOW ORBIT are back with a long concocted 3rd opus. They’re on their way to conquer the Stoner/Doom zone with their intergalactic riffs reverberating through the deep space! Crater Creator interlace with dash Heavy Psych, Desert Rock and Sludge while being genuinely groovy! So crushing and powerful that Galactus himself decided to enroll them as their new heralds.
~ Marc-Eric Gagnon
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); Andy Kovalcik; 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); Fuzzy Cracklins (Fuzzy Cracklins); Geoff Leppard (Atom Heart Mutha); Graur Zaur (Crypt Guard); Gruby (Doomsmoker); Günther “Doktor420” (Stoner HiVe); Héctor “Mr. Heavyhead” Hurtado (More Fuzz); Hugo Hulleman (Metalfan.nl,Orange Maze); Ioannis Valiakos (Desert Vulture); Jamey Morris (Fistful of DOOM); Jay Morgan (High Desert Valley Radio); Jim Thompson (Heavy in the Hills); JJ “HP Taskmaster”Koczan (The Obelisk); John Gist, (Vegas Rock Revolution); Jonny Pirie (Hour of the Riff); Joop Konraad (Stoner HiVe); Ken Elliott (Heavy Planet); 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); 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); Shasta Beast (Stoner HiVe); Steve Howe (Outlaws of the Sun); Steve Rodger (God’s Holy Trousers); Steve Woodier (Deathrattle Podcast); Tanguy ‘Mr Fuzz’ Dupré (More Fuzz); Thierry “Pumpkin-T“ François (Metal Intégral); 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.