Summer proceeds relentlessy towards its conclusion and we can only to try to keep its spirit alive with through the warm and arid sounds of stoner rock. In this chart I’m presenting the list of my favorite stoner albums and EPs that have been published since the beginning of 2018, including both “conventional” stoner and its psychedelic variations.
You’ll find here both legendary bands such as Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet and Orange Goblin, but also a bunch of extremely promising formations coming from many different parts of the World.
Enjoy this list of albums and don’t forget to check if there are newest updates in the stoner section of the blog.
#1) Sundrifter, “Visitations”
Sundrifter is a three piece stoner rock band from Boston, in the United States. Visitations, their second full-length album, makes no effort to conceal the origins of the sound of the band, which draws heavily in that inexhaustible source of inspiration that is given by the first couple of albums from Kyuss. But even where the imitation goes so far as to almost plagiarize the original (please listen to the beginning of the third track, Lightworker, just to get an idea) these guys still managed to put in their music so many elements of innovation that, in the end, they’re actually playing their own and unique version of stoner. And this album succeeds in being together a celebration of the great masters of the past and an absolutely valid and original piece of work.
From a musical point of view, the band shows an impressive capacity to blend together classic stoner music with elements from psychedelic rock and space rock. The development of the songs, in most of the cases, is that typical of stoner music: an initial riff of guitar, loud and rhythmic, on which are added to follow an opulent bass and an essential – but still warm – rhythmic session. On top of that there is the fantastic voice of Craig Peura, which is in effect the winning element of this album and perhaps the real element of differentiation from the many other stoner bands we have today.
In summary: Visitations is a really valid LP from a band which managed to fuse together the celebration and the homage to the legacy of stoner rock with a number of characteristic features which make their music absolutely solid and unique.
The album is available on Bandcamp and can be also streamed from Spotify.
#2) Orange Goblin, “The Wolf Bites Back”
As a long-term fan of stoner music, I must admit that I have never developed a particular affinity for the English metal band Orange Goblins. I clearly appreciated the various albums they have published in their twentythree-years long career, but without ever developing an emotional connection like the one I have for other formations playing the same genre of music. On the other hand, the emotional bond with certain bands sometimes comes (or not) independently from their absolute value.
The sensations that I had once I heard their latest work, however, were completely different and probably The Wolf Bites Back is the first album among the nine that they have released until today which made me feel an immediate sense of enjoyment and adrenaline. Maybe it’s because of the stripped-down and raw attitude that they put in the recorde, perhaps because for the first time the level of intensity of the songs remains high from the beginning to the end of the record, the fact is that Orange Goblin’s last record it remains permanently in my music player from the date on which I entered it for the first time.
Surely one of the elements which I appreciated the most of their last LP is that the bluesy rock elements are nowadays relegated to a secondary role and what you get in most of the album is a straight and fierce attack of genuine stoner, without any esitation or vacillations. The band really decided this time to ride with the accelerator pedal always pressed to the bottom, and the rare ballads that appear sporadically among the songs are short and concise breaths of fresh air rather than a signal of a more general slowing down of the machine. It’s nice when an historical band manages to keep the quality of its productions so high across the years. And it’s even better when the same band manages to surprise you with one of the most effective and direct works of their entire production.
The Wolf Bites Back can be listened on Spotify.
#3) Weedpecker, “III”
Weedpecker are a relatively new psychedelic stoner band from Poland. In the relatively short timespan of six years since their formation the band has already released three full-lenght LPs, all of them of absolute value. The last one, named III as the position that the album has in the discography of the band, is a joyful ride through desert soundscapes burned by the sun.
There are many different influences in their sound but these guys from Warsav still managed to maintain a unique style and direction in their music, which may be summarized as a dirty and fuzzed version of stoner rock. As correctly reported in the album release notes, III sees Weedpecker experimenting with light, colorful jams that remind the listener of Tame Impala or Morgan Delt. Moving seamlessly between styles and moods organically, it’s easy to get lost, only to find yourself emerged in a different world entirely.
A couple of songs of the album (Embrace and Liquid Sky) may be considered real masterpieces of this particular style of music.
#4) ASG, “Survive Sunrise”
ASG is one of those bands that didn’t achieve the success they deserved. Active since 2001, this quartet of veteran stoner rockers have gained the status of cult band in the underground movement, but they remain fairly little known to the international audiences. Probably this is because their studio albums can’t match the reputation which they gained for their wildly energetic live shows. Anyway, for everyon who’s been lucky enough to appreciate the works of this band from North Carolina, the news of the release of a new album is always welcomed with great enthusiasm.
Survive Sunrise, their sixth full length and first new album in five years, provides the listener with another fine selection of psychedelic stoner rock. Most of the songs of this album have slow rhythms and the music conveys the feeling of a hot and sweaty evening, when the sun slowly gives way to the blue of the night, and your face, burned by the sun rays and made harsh from the dust collected during your journey, can finally enjoy a breath of fresh air. Singable and delicate melodies develop over the psychedelic and southern atmospheres that are drawn by the guitars, and the scene is then completed by the incredible voice of Jason Shi.
Survive Sunrise is a really solid and valid album from a band that, despite not being not very prolific, has always managed to leave its mark in the stoner world with every new work. Perhaps the stylistic choice to contain the energy and to prefer the most introspective aspects of stoner rock will not make them achieve mainstream success, but their road is now signed and these guys do not seem willing to negotiate popularity with their unique and special vision of rock music.
#5) Akula, “Akula”
It’s not easy to find many details about Akula, this new band from Ohio, in the U.S., which dropped an intriguing album of psychedelic rock mixed with sludge, doom and post-metal. The material included in their homonymous debut LP is extremely interesting and provide the listener with an absolutely innovative approach to this kind of music. Some elements of their songs, such as the clean vocal sections, are absolutely brilliant and in some moments create a very special contrast with the hardness of the guitars. The album consists of only 4 tracks – very long – and it’s basically divided in two sections: a radio-friendly first half with the most accessible music, and a more experimental second part where the band plays with more articulated rhythms and more dissonant and atmospheric sounds.
#6) Fu Manchu, “Clone of the Universe”
Fu Manchu are one of the most famous and appreciated bands in stoner rock and, as such, every new release from them is awaited by fans with great trepidation. They also managed to become one of those groups that can be recognized after only a few seconds of listening thanks to the particularity (and the beauty) of their sound and also the unique voice of Scott Hill.
Unfortunately, however, the years pass for everyone and with their recent album Clone of the Universe, this iconic quartet begins to show some signs of regression. More than 30 years have passed since the foundation of the band and that magical fluid that until today made all their songs to be vivid and fresh seems to be in short supply. It is no coincidence, then, that in this last LP these legends from Southern California seem to play with the brakes pulled, favoring the sounds and the atmospheric aspects of their music rather than that immediacy and spontaneity we were used to find in their songs.
There are still very good moments in the LP and also some clear signals from the band to accept new challenges and take new paths, as can be seen from the track “Il Mostro Atomico” (yes, in Italian) which is an epic 19-minutes tracks that reiterates almost indefinitely the same riff.
#7) King Buffalo, “Repeater”
King Buffalo is a trio of extremely talended psychedelic rockers from New York, in the U.S. Three years after their formation in 2013 the band released their first full-lenght work, Orion, which gained in short time a relevant consideration, initially limited to the underground scene but which rapidly expanded to an international audience. These guys play in fact a beautiful kind of psychedelic rock with many elements from blues, stoner and sludge.
Early in 2018 the band published a short EP with three tracks, named Repeater, that in some way may be seen as an extension of the previous album. The title track, in particular, is an hypnotic and psychic anthem which grows along 13 minutes of pure musical beauty.
#8) Monster Magnet, “Mindfuckers”
Monster Magnet are considered among the most important and influential bands for stoner rock (the “Godfathers of Stoner” as I’ve recently read on a magazine) and indeed through their numerous publications and vigorous live performances they have really cemented their status of one of the most legendary groups in the contemporary rock universe.
Given this premises it’s easily understandable that Dave Wyndorf and his bandmates don’t feel any urge to follow the trends or to force their music to sound “modern” and catchy. As a matter of fact, their name is in itself a guarantee of quality and their fans already know what to expect when a new record from Monster Magnet arrives on the shelves.
Mindfucker is their eleventh album and, as expected, the record continues to move along the same road that has been traveled so many times by the band, with no major changes in their typical sound if not for the fact that in many parts of the LP we feel a stronger aspiration to reach the real essence of rock and roll: smooth riffs, fiercy rhythms, powerful and stunning guitars. This is pure and simple retro-rock, and the stoner elements in many songs leave the field to a more basic “hard rock” style.
The album is basically an excellent collection of new songs from a band that doesn’t want to make any surprise, they just try to improve every time what they can do best, and they actually do it. For many fans of the band, in fact, Mindfucker has all the characteristics and the potential to become a classic in the band’s discography. From such a legendary formation, however, one could also expect sometimes to see them exploring new directions, not because of larger consensus but simply to enrich the journey, so interesting and full of inspirations, that they started now thirty years ago.
The album can be streamed on Spotify.
#9) Yellow Dust, “Slodge”
Yellow Dust is a German stoner band and Slodge is their new album, released in January 2018. The album sees the band engaged ith both the sound and dynamics of stoner rock and the slower and more abrasive sounds of sludge metal. In all honesty I can say that in the first case (i.e. with the stoner songs) the results are undoubtedly better. The sludge tracks in fact do not take any particular advantage from the raw and low-fi production of the album, and they don’t show neither any particularly exciting idea that can sustain and valorise the longer and relatively psychedelic songs that complete the record.
Anyway, the album is a good step forward with respect to the band’s debut LP and brings the signs of a raw talent that could give us great surprises for the years to come.
Slodge is available on Bandcamp, where it can also downloaded for free.
#10) Black Moth, “Anatomical Venus”
Black Moth, from England, is a band which is trying to find their own way into the stoner genre through the integration iof elements from psychedelic rock and doom into their music. Anatomical Venus, their last LP, brings a bunch of good ideas and a number of interesting deviations from the canons of the genre. The album, however, doesn’t always manage to match the expectations that were raised from their previous releases.
Black Moth’s music is characterized by the nice insertion of interesting and “cinematic” pieces as well as many psychedelic and doom elements. Anatomical Venus is also enriched by one of the most fantastic female voices of the modern rock panorama.
The new album by Black Moth can be streamed from Spotify.