Back in the day I would skip classes, take work off, plan a baking extravaganza -- all in celebration of weed culture. But as I've gotten older, I've realized you don't need an excuse to take pleasure in the little things. Which is why we decided to join these things, and compile a list of the best stoner metal albums.
For those not familiar: While the premise of thrash and speed metal is, obviously, to make things as fast and furious and possible, the mindset of stoner metal is to slow down all that we love about the noise -- the riffs, the beats, the breakdowns -- to truly put on display the genre's influences. You hear the Mississippi blues, the distortion of metal, the sharpness of punk, the "retro" production, and the soulful harshness of Southern rock. I mean, from Blue Cheer to Sir Lord Baltimore, stoner metal has an interesting array of initial influences.
When making lists such as these, it can be difficult not to contemplate for hours on end about the different characteristics that really categorize as a "stoner" metal band. There's a lot of crossover between stoner, sludge and doom metal. But we don't have time to parse over the minutiae at the moment. So for now, whether you're looking for that slow-burning psychedelic sound, or a glass bong-shattering style that's fierce and fast, this list of albums is sure to provide you with a fix -- whether you partake in the devil's lettuce or not.
Orange Goblin, Time Traveling Blues
Over the past two decades, UK-based Orange Goblin has evolved into a particularly awesome hybrid strain of metal. The UK-based band combines the catchy rhythms of bands like Black Sabbath, the punk attitude of the Misfits, and the rock and roll sounds of acts such as Monster Magnet. While the band has an array of notable records, 1998's Time Traveling Blues gets me with a timeless sound of melodic, grinding guitar work, heavy drumwork and roaring vocals. It's thick with blues scales, atmospheric jam solos, irresistible groove and distortion, and monstrous drum and cymbal work.
Electric Wizard, Time to Die
If you're addicted to the darker side of metal's lyrical content, like the occult, H.P. Lovecraft, horror, then Electric Wizard is for you. Besides singing about those subjects, there's also a healthy dose of cannabis love thrown in there. Time to Die is the band's eighth and most recent, as well as their longest studio album to date--so it's perfect for those long stoner seshes, set in a dark room swirling with smoke that will be nowhere near as dense as this album's thicket of grooves and rifffs. It's also close to my heart, because it marks the bands renewed energy after their not-so-great 2010 record Black Masses. Sit back and melt into the eerie tempos and zombie-esque melodies, sneering to wailing vocals, and various tracks that touch on influences such as garage rock and Black Sabbath.
Black Sabbath, Master of Reality
I don't personally categorize Black Sabbath as stoner metal - however the band's third studio album, Master of Reality, fits nicely on this list. Released in 1971, the record was far ahead of it's time musically, so there are many who consider this the first stoner metal album of time.
Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus
This band was at the forefront of creating the sound that ultimately influenced a ton of stoner metal bands. It was in 1979 when the band began to combine elements of the L.A. punk scene and the new wave of British heavy metal and ended up with punk, stoner, doom and classic metal strains, all rolled into one helluva spliff. This self-titled 1984 debut truly shows the influence of these pioneers.
The Sword, Warp Riders
This Texas medieval-themed band is all about the smoke and mirrors -- lyrically and figuratively -- and is strongly influenced by bands like The Melvins and Sleep. The music is thick with mystery and distortion, and the lyrics circle around things like ancient literature, Norse mythology and war. This is one of those bands where you start head-banging without even realizing it, and it's hard to pinpoint just one of their albums that is worthy of this list. While their 2006 debut Age of Winters is an incredible record-the songs are catchy, euphoric and haunting--I gotta go with Warp Riders. This science fiction-narrative concept albums shows the distinctive change in the band's sound that moved from more doom metal to a faster, heavier metal sound.
Sleep, Sleep's Holy Mountain
Sleep is one of the most influential doom and stoner metal bands of all time (as well as one of the most underappreciated), and this 1995 record, the band's second, solidified the tone for their greatness, as well as the evolution of stoner metal; the cover art even features cannabis leaves. While it seems the members originally set out to go down the same paths of bands like Black Sabbath, somewhere along the way they just let their atmospheric, eerie grooves take over and evolve.
Weedeater, God Luck and Good Speed
Formed in the late '90s, this North Carolina act is one of stoner metal's most abrasive -- and loudest -- bands. Weedeater might make you feel like you smoked some hash that might've been laced with PCP. But that's okay, because the Southern outlaw rock meets thrashy layers meets echoing, fuzzy guitar riffs blasting out of your stereo somehow assures you that everything will be okay. It's just a mix of uppers and downers, that's all.
Cannabis Corpse, Created to Kill
Featuring members of Municipal Waste, this marijuana-themed death metal band is probably one of the most brutal on this list, in terms of instrumentals and lyrical content. It combines two very controversial things: a love for marijuana, and a love for Cannibal Corpse. While it borders on parody/tribute, it celebrates the technical, full-force speed of death metal, with lyrics that are just as twisted. Imagine ganja buds coming to life and killing people, or potheads being smoked alive. This 1995 debut album paints a perfect picture of what the band is going for. Love the Cannibal Corpse Jam "Mummified in Barbed Wire"? Give "Mummified in Bong Water" a whirl.
Update: Since this list published, we have replaced the entry on Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath with the Sabbath album Master of Reality.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.