If we consider what happened within the stoner music scene in the first half of the year, attention was clearly monopolized by a few highly anticipated major releases (Mastodon and John Garcia, in particular). The fact that these works are now firmly positioned at the top positions of our stoner chart demonstrates that the expectations were correct. The stoner music scene, however, has seen also a few other interesting publications that didn’t leave us indifferent and that are today competing with the masters of stoner rock.
Let’s see which are the five best releases as we approach the first half of the year.
#5) Mount The Mountain by Mammoth Mammoth
Austrialian dirt hard rockers Mammoth Mammoth have released in 2017 their fourth studio album, Mount the Mountain, and we’re again in front of a fantastic blend of heavy metal, stoner and old-school rock.
The band formed in 2007 in Melbourne and the four Australian guys are today renowned for both their uncompromising rock music and their energetic live shows which are fronted by the charismatic vocalist Mikey Tucker.
The album is full of heavy and enjoyable riffs and the band clearly favors a direct and straightforward approach to the music with respect to some of other more conceptual modern stoner bands. The album lays on a wide range of ideas and the overall quality of the songs is definitely high. After almost 8 years of playing together, the Australians have probably wrote one of the best works of their career, and if you resist that sense of initial distrust associated with the feeling of being catapulted into the heavy metal scene of 30 years ago, you will enjoy a very nice and solid collection of hard rock and stoner music.
Writing this album was like working on a top fuel drag car. We stripped back the engine, then rebuilt it to run faster, louder and more badass, this time though we added nitrous … and a cup holder (Mikey Tucker, vocalists and bandleader)
#4) Wick by Royal Thunder
Georgia-based rockers Royal Thunder are not an easy band to categorize and the three albums that they have published since their debut five years ago, they have constantly evolved their sound and also experienced the most remote corners of rock music.
The group has a sound that is just impossible to peg or corner. It’s due to this refusal to go all-in on just their grunge-caked southern rock, folk-inflected moments or lingering psychedelia that ensures no door is ever shut on which direction a song can go during the creative process. And as demonstrated here, it makes for one engaging and rewarding listen. Keep moving, keep changing and keep on burning that WICK, Royal Thunder (Loudwire)
There are however a few firm points in their music. First, the band owns one of the best vocalists nobody had ever heard of, the magnetic and fascinating Mlny Parsonz, who also plays bass and piano. She has the capability to transform everything she sing into a sincere and passionate wave of emotions. Second, despite all the varying styles they experiment in their songs, these musicians from Atlanta always play a clear and genuine rock, without seeking for any shortcut to the listener’s condescension and thus towards a potentially easier way to commercial success.
Wick, their last album, proceeds in this journey through the various facets of rock and it picks many different influences from multiple decades of music. Above an underlying layer of stoner and heavy metal, we find here power ballads, grunge moments, sludgy elements and gritty hard rock. And in a music scene where too many times we assist at trivial attempts by many newcomers to follow some successful recipes to get to the attention of the masses, it’s important to recognize the value of a band which is not following anyone, indeed, which forces us to follow them in such an elaborate and multifaceted musical journey.
#3) Sleeping Through The War by All Them Witches
Sleeping Through The War, the last album by Tennessee desert rockers All Them Witches, has been one of the first stoner album I had the possibility to hear this year and since the first listens to the advance tracks of this work I definitely appreciated the quality of the music presented by this relatively minor band in the stoner music panorama.
Starting from the very first track of the album, we are drawn into the obscure and melancholy territory created by the band, full of psychedelic references grafted into the roots of catchy melodies and stoner sounds. Sleeping Through The War, as a matter of fact, is representative of the more intimate and poetice side of stoner music.
We have arrived at the fourth album in the career of this band, and their sound has now reached a clear maturity. It looks like that the four guys have incrementally learned to balance the various influences in their stoner rock (psychedelia, alternative metal, blues and sludge) and consolidate their own style of music.
Sleeping Through The War strikes the perfect balance of the familiar and the alien to distill 45 minutes of musical opium. Bliss. (Clash)
#2) Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
Emperor of Sand, by American heavy metal band Mastodon, belongs to the category of the mostly anticipated albums. And from the position they have in this chart, they delivered what everyone was expecting from them: another great and solid stoner rock album.
The four guys from Georgia don’t need too many introductions. The band arrived this year at the seventh album of their appreciated career, which started in year 2000. With their unique and strong mix of progressive and stoner rock, Mastodon become one of the preeminent metal acts of the early 21st century, gaining also mainstream success with some of their most accessible songs.
Emperor of Sand looks like two albums in one single disc. The work starts with the most aggressive, direct and mainstream-oriented songs, and then proceeds with the more complex and articulated tracks. The overall quality of the album, in any case, it’s very high. The only critic that I can express about the album, maybe, is that it explores extensively the legacy and background of the band without any particular innovation in their musical approach.
#1) The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues by John Garcia
As long term fan of John Garcia (the voice of the desert) Ie appreciated almost every single album he published or where he simply contributed with his wonderful voice. In his last full-lenght disc, however, he really managed to convey a tsunami of emotions and the balance between new and old tracks is definitely satisfying. The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues is an acoustic album which contains new songs and some wonderfully rearranged tunes from the Kyuss era.
Much of the beauty of this record lies in the fact that John Garcia didn’t just follow the desire to pursue the commercial success by rearranging the most famous songs of his long and glorious career. Rather, it is evident the depth of emotions which our favourite singer needed to communicate and which is at the basis of such a little masterpiece.
Here in this blog the last album by John Garcia has spent many months on top of the overall music chart, and even today he still sits in the top 3 places. The value of the album is thus well beyond the pure stoner world, this is a work which clearly represents one of the best things which happened in music so far in 2017.