Stoner rock

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Stoner rock, also known as stoner metal [1] or stoner doom, [2] [3] is a rock music fusion genre that combines elements of heavy metal and/or doom metal with psychedelic rock and acid rock. [4] The name references cannabis consumption. The term desert rock is often used interchangeably with the term "stoner rock" to describe this genre; however, not all stoner rock bands would fall under the descriptor of "desert rock". [5] [6] Stoner rock is typically slow-to-mid tempo and features a heavily distorted, groove-laden bass-heavy sound, [7] melodic vocals, and "retro" production. [8] The genre emerged during the early 1990s and was pioneered foremost by Monster Magnet and the California bands Fu Manchu, Kyuss [9] and Sleep. [10] [11]

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Doom metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "thicker" or "heavier" sound than other heavy metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom. The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, who formed a prototype for doom metal with songs such as "Black Sabbath", "Children of the Grave", "Electric Funeral" and "Into the Void". During the first half of the 1980s, a number of bands from England, the United States and Sweden defined doom metal as a distinct genre.



Kyuss are an influential stoner band who formed in 1987. Kyuss.png
Kyuss are an influential stoner band who formed in 1987.

The descriptor "stoner rock" may originate from the title of the 1997 Roadrunner Records compilation Burn One Up! Music for Stoners. Desert rock is also used interchangeably as a descriptor, and was coined by a MeteorCity Records intern, around the time the label released the 1998 stoner rock compilation Welcome to MeteorCity. [5]

Roadrunner Records is an American record label that concentrates primarily on heavy metal and hard rock bands. It is a division of Warner Music Group and is based in New York City.

The Palm Desert Scene is a group of related bands and musicians from Palm Desert, California. Their hard rock sound – often described as desert rock – contains elements of psychedelia, blues, heavy metal, punk rock, alternative rock, and other genres, often featuring distinctive repetitive drum beats, a propensity for free-form jamming, and "trance-like" or "sludgy" grooves.

MeteorCity record label

MeteorCity Records is an American record label. MeteorCity was founded in 1997 by Jadd Shickler and Aaron Emmel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With the release of its compilation album Welcome to MeteorCity showcasing young unsigned Kyuss-like bands, MeteorCity helped launch the stoner rock genre and many of the genre's first bands, plus side projects from members of well-known bands including The Atomic Bitchwax and Hermano. MeteorCity Records was one of the first record labels dedicated exclusively to Stoner rock, doom metal, sludge metal, drone metal and psychedelic rock.

Due to the similarities between stoner and sludge metal, there is often a crossover between the two genres. This hybrid has traits of both styles, [12] [13] but generally lacks stoner metal's laid back atmosphere and its usage of psychedelia. Bands such as Weedeater, [14] High on Fire [15] [16] and Electric Wizard creatively fuse both styles. [17]

Sludge metal is an extreme style of music that originated through combining elements of doom metal and hardcore punk. It is typically harsh and abrasive, often featuring shouted vocals, heavily distorted instruments and sharply contrasting tempos. While the Melvins from the US state of Washington laid the groundwork for both sludge metal and grunge in the 1980s, sludge as a distinct genre emerged after 1990 through the work of Louisiana bands such as Eyehategod and Crowbar. Later bands often border on stoner rock or post-metal.

Psychedelic music is a wide range of popular music styles and genres influenced by 1960s psychedelia, a subculture of people who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline and DMT to experience visual and auditory hallucinations, synesthesia and altered states of consciousness. Psychedelic music may also aim to enhance the experience of using these drugs.

Weedeater (band) A stoner/sludge metal band formed by Dave "Dixie" Collins formerly of Buzzov*en.

Weedeater are a stoner metal band formed in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1998. The group's most recent album, Goliathan, was released on May 19, 2015.

The involvement of cannabis in the creation of "stoner rock/metal" can range between bands in the genre. Bands such as Sleep have involved the concept of cannabis to be part of the core of their albums and songs. [18] The consumption of cannabis is common in the live performances of some stoner rock/metal bands, and bands such as Electric Wizard are known to have concerts with the band members and the crowd participating in smoking cannabis. [19] Dopesmoker by Sleep received controversy because the 60-minute song is about cannabis, which resulted in conflict with Sleep's record company. [18] Some members of the genre state that "stoner rock is a style, not life," which is interpreted as the band members do not participate in smoking cannabis or are influenced by cannabis. However, the style of their music reflects the sound of "stoner rock/metal." Bands such as King Caravan and Sea of Green have come under terms with this statement. [20] Similarly, Matt Pike from the band High on Fire stated, "It's a very strong scene, but I don't think any of the stoner rock bands want to be labeled as stoner rock ... I might use the word 'stoner' in my lyrics, but I think we're metal, dude. I'd say I was crossover metal, actually, or progressive metal. It's kind of a tough thing to lump into a category, but I guess we get the stoner-rock label because of the whole pot thing." [21]

<i>Jerusalem</i> and <i>Dopesmoker</i> 1999 studio album by Sleep

Jerusalem and Dopesmoker are the third album by the American heavy metal band Sleep. The albums were released in 1999 and 2003 respectively. The music for these albums was written during a four-year period when the group was working on a single song that was around an hour in length. Sleep had signed with London Records, which financed the album. When recording had finished, London Records was unhappy with the finished product and refused to release it. The album was later released in various forms by different record labels. All versions of the album received very positive reception from music critics, who described it as a high-water mark in both the stoner metal and doom metal genres.


Influences (1960s to mid-1980s)

Like most subgenres of music, the origins of stoner rock are hard to trace and pinpoint. Nevertheless, several known progenitors and signature songs are widely credited with helping to shape the genre. Blue Cheer is considered one of the pioneers of the style; as AllMusic author Greg Prato puts it, "When talks about 'stoner rock' come up, one band that tends to get overlooked is Blue Cheer." [22] According to critic Mark Deming, Blue Cheer's first album, Vincebus Eruptum , "is a glorious celebration of rock & roll primitivism run through enough Marshall amps to deafen an army," not unlike the heaviness of MC5's Kick Out the Jams and the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat . [23]

Blue Cheer band

Blue Cheer was an American rock band that initially performed and recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was sporadically active until 2009. Based in San Francisco, Blue Cheer played in a psychedelic blues rock or acid rock style, and are also credited as being some of the earliest pioneers of heavy metal, with their cover of "Summertime Blues" sometimes cited as the first in the genre. They have also been noted as influential in the development of genres as disparate as punk rock, stoner rock, doom metal, experimental rock, and grunge.

AllMusic Online music database

AllMusic is an online music database. It catalogs more than 3 million album entries and 30 million tracks, as well as information on musical artists and bands. It launched in 1991, predating the World Wide Web.

<i>Vincebus Eruptum</i> 1968 studio album by Blue Cheer

Vincebus Eruptum is the debut album of American rock band Blue Cheer. Released on January 16, 1968, the album features a heavy-thunderous blues sound, which would later be known as heavy metal. It also contains elements of acid rock, experimental rock, blues rock, stoner rock, and garage rock. A commercial and critical success, Vincebus Eruptum peaked at number 11 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and spawned the top-20 hit cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues". Being an example of hard rock, it is also lauded as one of the first heavy metal albums.

Rolling Stone claims, "What stoner rock delivers, slowed down and magnified, is the riff, the persistent legacy of Mississippi blues. Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were the first to make a monolith of it." [24] Sir Lord Baltimore have been called "the godfathers of stoner rock" and Leaf Hound have been cited for influencing countless bands in the stoner rock movement, including Kyuss and Monster Magnet. [25] Buffalo's 1973 sophomore release Volcanic Rock has been "heralded as the first great stoner rock record," [26] the song Sunrise (Come My Way) "has since been shamelessly cannibalized for its parts by more stoner-rock bands than you can shake a bong at," [27] and the songs Till My Death and The Prophet have been likened to later stoner rock. [28] Primevil's album Smokin' Bats at Campton's has been called a "touchstone" of stoner rock. [29] Jim DeRogatis has said that stoner rock bands are "reaching back for inspiration to the psychedelic, proto-metallic jamming of bands like Cream, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Hawkwind." [30]

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and music critic Ralph J. Gleason, which became famous for its coverage of rock music, and for political reporting by authors such as Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine broadened and shifted its focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.

Led Zeppelin English rock band

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. Along with Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the band's heavy, guitar-driven sound has led them to be cited as one of the originators of heavy metal. Their style drew from a wide variety of influences, including blues, psychedelia and folk music.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

According to DeRogatis, the roots of stoner rock can be heard on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality , Hawkwind's 25 Years On 1973–1977 box set, the aforementioned Blue Cheer album, Deep Purple's Machine Head and Blue Öyster Cult's Workshop of the Telescopes . [30] Black Sabbath's Master of Reality is often cited as the first album of the genre, [31] [32] and Martin Popoff states: "When 'Sweet Leaf' kicks in, one witnesses simultaneously the invention of stoner rock". [33] Allmusic summarizes this unique fusion as follows: "Stoner metal bands updated the long, mind-bending jams and ultra-heavy riffs of bands like Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Blue Öyster Cult, and Hawkwind by filtering their psychedelia-tinged metal and acid rock through the buzzing sound of early Sub Pop–style grunge." [8] However, Kyuss members Josh Homme and John Garcia have shrugged off the heavy metal influence, and instead cite punk rock and hardcore punk, particularly the sludgy hardcore of Black Flag's album My War as influences. [34]

Early development (late 1980s–1990s)

The doom metal band Trouble introduced acid rock elements on their 1990 self-titled album, which became even more prominent on 1992's Manic Frustration . Similarly, the British doom metal band Cathedral increasingly moved toward a psychedelic/stoner sound over the course of their first three releases, culminating in the critically acclaimed 1993 album The Ethereal Mirror . During this same period, heavy metal band White Zombie achieved multi-platinum success with their two major label albums, significantly expanding the heavy music audience with their groove-based, sample-laden "psychedelic horror" sound. [35]

During the early to mid-1990s, a number of southern-California bands developed the style that would be called stoner rock. In 1992, Kyuss emerged from the Palm Desert Scene with Blues for the Red Sun . Critics have hailed it as "a major milestone in heavy music," [36] while NME described their music as an attempt to figuratively melt "a hundredweight of hot desert sand into metal". [37] In 1992, San Jose doom metal band Sleep released their album Sleep's Holy Mountain , and along with Kyuss were heralded by the heavy metal press as leaders of the emerging stoner scene. [10] These two bands were among the first to introduce a psychedelic groove to their doom-influenced sound. [38] A year earlier, New Jersey's Monster Magnet released their debut album Spine of God , which displayed fewer metal influences but was psychedelic and sludgy, in the vein of their California peers. [39] Together with these three bands, southern-Californians Fu Manchu, who released their eponymous album in 1994, are credited with being "one of the most enduring and influential bands" of the genre. [40] In 1994, San Francisco's Acid King and Britain's Acrimony released their debut albums, both of which adopted this psychedelic approach to doom metal. Though more closely associated with the grunge movement (which itself sometimes influenced and occasionally overlapped with stoner rock), Soundgarden has also been cited as "stoner metal" or influential on the stoner rock genre, [41] [42] [43] with their 1994 album Superunknown being described as a "stoner rock classic". [44] Other influential bands from this era include Clutch, Sons of Otis and Corrosion of Conformity. [45]

Middle years (1995–1999)

Kyuss broke up in 1995 after the release of their final album, with many members going on to develop the stoner and desert rock scene through new projects. In August 1997, Kyuss' Josh Homme founded The Desert Sessions at the now-famous Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California. This musical collective brings artists together for impromptu writing and recording sessions that yielded ten albums between 1997 and 2003. The project has included members from Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Soundgarden, Monster Magnet, Goatsnake, earthlings? and Eagles of Death Metal, as well as PJ Harvey, Dean Ween and others associated with the Palm Desert scene. [46] Also in 1997, Roadrunner Records released the stoner rock compilation Burn One Up! Music for Stoners, which includes many of the aforementioned bands, as well as a track by Josh Homme's new band Queens of the Stone Age. [5]

In September 1997 Jadd Shickler (of stoner band Spiritu) and Aaron Emmel founded an online store based in Albuquerque, New Mexico called All That's Heavy, which began selling hard-to-find releases of Kyuss, Monster Magnet, and Fu Manchu. [47] They soon expanded the catalog to include artists who stylistically fit with those bands. [5] After half a year they were contacted by the former proprietor for the first Kyuss fan website, who recommended All That's Heavy do a compilation of unsigned bands that Kyuss fans would enjoy. [48] This resulted in the formation of MeteorCity Records and the release of the compilation Welcome to MeteorCity in 1998, which included established desert and stoner rock acts, as well as new bands established by John Garcia of Kyuss, Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet, and Pete Stahl of Goatsnake. [47] The album was the first time that the new stoner rock bands Sixty Watt Shaman, Lowrider, The Atomic Bitchwax, Dozer, Goatsnake, and Los Natas were featured on record. [5] According to MeteorCity founders:

"When this was happening, there wasn't really a [stoner rock] scene yet, there were just a lot of people around the world who were still sad about the end of Kyuss, as well as the end of Slo Burn, and who listened to stuff like Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu but wanted more. The label took off when we appeared with Welcome to Meteor City, as though the world was waiting for someone to do what we were doing." [48]

MeteorCity soon signed a number of musicians and bands from the Palm Desert Scene, including Hermano, Unida and emerging Swedish stoner rock bands such as Lowrider, Dozer and The Mushroom River Band. [48] During this time, The Hidden Hand and Spirit Caravan also began to gain popularity within the developing scene.

Mainstream exposure (2000–present)

In June 2000, Josh Homme's new project Queens of the Stone Age released their breakthrough album Rated R , which helped bring the stoner rock sound into the mainstream, despite the band themselves rejecting both the genre and their being labelled as such. [49]

Songs for the Deaf , their next release in 2002, included a single from the album peaking at No. 1 on the US Modern Rock Tracks. [50] Another label focusing on the international stoner rock scene was Small Stone Records, [51] which released a number of compilation albums of stoner rock bands doing covers of 1970s music, including Right in the Nuts: A Tribute to Aerosmith (2000), [52] Sucking the 70's (2002), and Sucking the 70's – Back in the Saddle Again (2006). [53]

Stoner metal band Electric Wizard (active since 1993) performing live at Hole in the Sky 2008 ElectricWizard by Christian Misje 03.jpg
Stoner metal band Electric Wizard (active since 1993) performing live at Hole in the Sky 2008

In 2002, the Orquesta del Desierto was formed featuring key members of the major desert rock bands, and released two albums.

In 2009, the magazines Decibel and Terrorizer released issues featuring a list of the 100 greatest and most important albums of the 2000s, respectively. The stoner band Electric Wizard's Dopethrone was featured on both lists, being placed 10th on Decibel's list and 1st on the Terrorizer's one. [54] [55]

Since Kyuss' break-up, the success of the bandmates' other projects has caused the Kyuss back catalogue to become more widely listened to and their fanbase has inevitably swelled. The sound has been continued on by directly descendant bands Unida, Slo Burn, Hermano, Mondo Generator, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork and the Bros, and at times by Queens of the Stone Age, who have since largely departed from Kyuss' stoner rock sound, and reject the label, preferring the term "desert rock".

List of notable bands

See also


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Related Research Articles

<i>Blues for the Red Sun</i> 1992 studio album by Kyuss

Blues for the Red Sun is the second studio album by American rock band Kyuss, released in 1992. While the album received mainly favorable reviews, it fared poorly commercially, selling only 39,000 units. It has since become a very influential album within the stoner rock genre. It was the last Kyuss album to feature bassist Nick Oliveri, who was replaced by Scott Reeder shortly after recording had been completed. Reeder had previously played with the Obsessed.

Sleep (band) stoner doom metal band

Sleep is an American doom metal power trio from San Jose, California. The band earned critical and record label attention early in its career. Critic Eduardo Rivadavia describes them as "perhaps the ultimate stoner rock band" and notes they exerted a strong influence on heavy metal in the 1990s. However, conflict with its record company contributed to Sleep's breakup by the end of the decade. The band reformed in 2009 and has played sporadic live dates internationally since. In 2018, Sleep released their comeback album, The Sciences, on Third Man Records, to critical acclaim.

A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. At times heavy metal genres may overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits. They may differ in terms of: instrumentation, tempo, song structure, vocal style, lyrics, guitar playing style, drumming style, and so on.

Electric Wizard English doom metal band

Electric Wizard are an English doom metal band from Dorset. The band formed in 1993 and have recorded nine studio albums, two of which are now considered genre landmarks: Come My Fanatics… (1997) and Dopethrone (2000). Electric Wizard's brand of doom metal incorporates stoner and sludge traits, with lyrics focusing on the occult, witchcraft, H.P. Lovecraft, horror films and cannabis. In 2014 they formed Witchfinder Records, an imprint of Spinefarm Records, on which they plan to release all future albums.

<i>Holy Diver</i> 1983 studio album by Dio

Holy Diver is the debut studio album by American heavy metal band Dio, released in 1983. Vocalist Ronnie James Dio had just finished his first tenure in Black Sabbath, whose drummer Vinny Appice he took with him to put together his own band. The roster was completed by his former band mate in Rainbow Jimmy Bain on bass and by the young guitarist Vivian Campbell, coming from the NWOBHM band Sweet Savage. The album was acclaimed by the music press and is the most successful of the band.

Trouble (band) American doom metal band

Trouble is an American doom metal band from Aurora, Illinois, formed in 1979 and considered one of the pioneers of the genre alongside Candlemass and Saint Vitus. The band created a distinct style taking influences of the British heavy metal bands Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and psychedelic rock of the 1970s. A critically acclaimed group, their first two albums, Psalm 9 and The Skull, are cited as landmarks of doom metal. To date, Trouble has released eight studio albums. Although the band never officially broke up, Trouble was plagued by extended inactivity after their original singer Eric Wagner left in 1997. He eventually rejoined in 2000 before leaving again eight years later.

Gothic metal is a fusion genre combining the heaviness of heavy metal with the dark atmospheres of gothic rock. The music of gothic metal is diverse with bands known to adopt the gothic approach to different styles of heavy metal music. The genre originated during the early 1990s in the United Kingdom originally as an outgrowth of death-doom, a fusion of death metal and doom metal. Lyrics are generally dark and introspective with inspiration from gothic fiction as well as personal experiences.

Solace is a heavy metal band hailing from the Jersey Shore, United States.

<i>The Action Is Go</i> 1997 studio album by Fu Manchu

The Action is Go is the fourth studio album by California stoner rock group Fu Manchu. It features new drummer Brant Bjork (Kyuss) and new lead guitarist Bob Balch, replacing Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano, who left to form the band Nebula. According to an AllMusic review, the new lineup provided Fu Manchu with "the impetus and inspiration to really start moving forward," and the resulting album demonstrates the band's "punk energy, classic rock drive, psychedelic crunch, and heavy-ass grind all at once." The album was produced by Jay Noel Yuenger of White Zombie, who contributed some additional instrumentation.

<i>Electric Wizard</i> (album) 1994 studio album by Electric Wizard

Electric Wizard is the debut studio album by English doom metal band Electric Wizard released in 1994 through Rise Above Records and re-released bundled with their second album, Come My Fanatics... in 1999. A remastered version was then released on CD and LP in 2006, with two bonus tracks, taken from a demo entitled Doom Chapter.

<i>Sleeps Holy Mountain</i> 1992 studio album by Sleep

Sleep's Holy Mountain is the second studio album by the American band Sleep. It was released in November 1992 in Europe, and March 1993 in the USA through Earache Records.

Death-doom is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It combines the slow tempos and pessimistic or depressive mood of doom metal with the deep growling vocals and double kick drumming of death metal. The genre emerged in the late-1980s and gained a certain amount of popularity during the 1990s, but had become less common by the turn of the 21st century. In turn, death-doom gave rise to the closely related genre of funeral doom as well as to the more melodic, gloomy and romantic gothic metal.

All That Is Heavy

All That is Heavy is an online music store based in Texas and founded in 1997. It is the first online record store dedicated exclusively to the genres of stoner rock, doom metal, sludge metal, drone metal and psychedelic rock. All That is Heavy was originally owned and operated MeteorCity Records, which was instrumental in the growth of the late 1990s stoner rock scene. Distributed labels, besides their formerly in-house MeteorCity Records, include Tee Pee, Volcom Entertainment, Small Stone Records, Rise Above Records, and others. The store was operated by the now defunct from 2001 to 2010, and was owned by Dan Beland.On 25 August 2017 it was announced that All That Is Heavy would be taken into new ownership by Casey Kelch and relocated to Houston, Texas.

Lions (band) American rock band

Lions were an American rock band from Austin, Texas, formed in 2005. The lineup consists of singer Matt Drenik, guitarist Austin Kalman and drummer Jake Perlman. Trevor Sutcliffe was Lions' bassist from their formation until his departure in 2009, where he was replaced by Mike Sellman. The band formed following the breakup of The Good Looks, the previous band of both Drenik and Perlman.