Posts Tagged ‘Stoner rock’

Backyard Junkyard cover art

North Carolinian bruisers Thundering Herd have dropped their new record ‘Backyard Junkyard’, a record chock full of (excuse the pun) thunderous groove and old school RAWK! Available on their Bandcamp now!

You’re looking at an album here that is pulsing with muscular riffing, a ton of massive groove and a sweet Southern stoner vibe that is thoroughly energising. Sometimes you need something dark, brutal or heavier than hell, and sometimes you need something that rocks hard and sets your head nodding. Thundering Herd are here for the latter, and on songs like the great ‘Stars, Bars and Mason Jars’, they really capture that feeling perfectly. The vocal hooks are catchy, and there’s almost something a bit thrashy about their riff patterns in places. Imagine Clutch made love to Lamb of God, and you’d be getting there.

The soulful swagger of ‘Aces and 8s’, the grinding ‘Chopper’ and the muscular ‘Some Assembly Required’ are some of my highlights, but it’s not difficult to find a good, banging track on this album. It’s big, dumb and full of groove, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Monster Magnet Dopes to Infinity.jpg

Last year saw the twentieth anniversary of one of stoner rock’s most iconic record, the superlative ‘Dopes to Infinity’ by Monster Magnet. While for me, Monster Magnet have been a little hit and miss over the years, ‘Dopes to Infinity’ is an album I revisit regularly, for its simple, space age groove that it injects into the solid RAWK weaved by riff, drum and bass.

It is, for me, one of stoner rock’s most complete statements. It meshes a simple groove that will appeal to even the most addled mind, but delve into the spacey grooves and you’ll find insidious melody, soothing drone (tell me that the repetitive riff that lies through ‘Look to the Orb for Your Warning’ isn’t pure psychedelic drone material, just speeded up a bit) and hazy anthems. The title track itself is one of rock and roll’s best tunes, yet smothered in a drugged haze it becomes almost an anthem for the great beyond. Wyndorf and co have always expressed their appreciation for space rock bands like Hawkwind, but they feel like the first truly out there band. A band that could come from the stars and yet be rock and roll icons. But for coverage, Monster Magnet could be stadium rockers.

The esoteric ‘All Friends and Kingdom Come’, with its glistening sitar moments, the frantic groove of ‘Ego, the Living Planet’, the introspective acoustics of ‘Blow Em Off’. Monster Magnet put everything forward into this record, and that’s why it will forever be their magnum opus. Yeah, ‘Spine of God’ is the cult debut, and ‘Powertrip’ may be the bigger hit, but Monster Magnet have struggled to create something as timeless and complete as ‘Dopes to Infinity’.

That is no slur on what they’ve achieved since. That is just how important ‘Dopes…’ was and is. I love this record, for all its timeless groove, the ghostly acoustics and the otherworldly psychedelica pervasion. The positively 70s occult rock groove ‘Dead Christmas’ is a highlight of mine, but I could pick anything from this record. ‘Dopes to Infinity’ we should all be. ‘We are all here my friends, alive and spaced but all so beautiful’

Having had a good long conversation with my good friend Teo of Italian black metallers Chiral about the merits of my favourite band, Boris, I’ve decided that this week’s Killchain Hour at Live Funeral Radio is my pick of the Japanese noise monsters’ best tracks. My difficulty is that I’m only allowed an hour, so that takes out their magnum opus debut ‘Absolutego’, which clocks in at one song, one hour and two minutes. Shame. Boris were the first band that really made me understand that music is more than just catchy melodies or riffs. Music is, at its core, the manipulation of sound.’Absolutego’ blew my mind the first time I heard it. Most of it is wailing feedback and distorted riffs that move at a snail’s pace. But it is inherently music, taken to extremes of sound.

Their yoyo-ing between experimental lower case boris, who specialise in howling drone doom and sludgy noise, and capital letters BORIS, who are all about raging stoner rock groove, has always kept them interesting and relevant. A new Boris record is never going to be what you expect. And that’s one of their most important features.

Anyhoo, enjoy the riffs!

1. Farewell (from ‘Pink’)
2. Heavy Metal Addict (from ‘Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol.2’)
3. Heavy Friends (from ‘Heavy Rocks’)
4. Rafflesia (feat. Michio Kurihara) (from ‘Rainbow’)
5. The Evil One Which Sobs (from ‘Dronevil Disc 2’)
6. Ibitsu (from ‘Akuma No Uta’)
7. Pink (from ‘Pink’)
8. Feedbacker (Part 3) (from ‘At Last: Feedbacker’)
9. Statement (from ‘Smile’)

Listen here: 10pm GMT, Tuesday nights

North Carolina, USA, has brought us Viajando,a power trio that brings to the fore some colossal riffing and some rocking stoner doom tunes on their first proper release, ‘Counting Days’. A soulful croon, some bluesy power riffs and a dusty, deserty feel gives ‘Counting Days’ a good start.

The title track gets us off to a fair galloping start, with vocalist Taylor showcasing his pipes. It’s uber melodic, but with a heavy low end. The rumble intensifies with the brooding ‘Nothing is Sacred’, where dashes of Kylesa appear. Viajando share common ground with some of their more Southern brethren, with some shimmering psychedelic parts and an intense groove in ‘Hell’s Pit’.

I burnt myself out on the whole stoner rock/doom scene a few months ago by hearing too many bands that sounded the same. Yeah, maybe expecting the genre to show some type of forward motion is naive but at least challenge me. Viajando are drawing me back in. They’ve got a good sense of the groove required, the ‘feel’ of writing honest stoner rock songs that don’t overstay their welcome, that don’t just riff without substance. ‘Rogue’ is one of my most played songs of the past few days. I love the melody, I love the vocals and I love the riffs. Maybe this is my way back in…

Viajando aren’t rewriting the rule book, but they’re playing music with a bit of heart, a bit of soul and a whole lot of heavy. They’ll never win awards, but fuck me if ‘Counting Days’ isn’t just a good fucking record. Sometimes its all you need.


I may have mentioned before that I. FUCKING. LOVE. BORIS. Boris are Japan’s great shapeshifters, they lurch from epic drone and crushing doom to stoner rock to ambient noise weirdness to J-pop with little care for what sticklers for genre types think. I first got into Boris through their rock opus ‘Pink’ in 2005. That title track man, what a fucking rock tune that is. It’s one of my all time favourite records, and opens with one of my all time favourite songs of any genre ever, ‘Farewell’. ‘Farewell’ is an epic piece of post metal beauty; staggeringly fragile yet powerfully heavy. I will never get tired of that song, it is movingly, achingly perfect.

They also have a history of collaboration, with US drone terrorists Sunn0))) (the staggering ‘Altar’), Japanese guitar virtuoso Michio Kurihara (‘Cloud Chamber’ and the volcanic ‘Rainbow’) and Japanese noise artist Merzbow (most famously on ‘Rock Dream’). Their work with Kurihara particularly is electric, bringing extra psychedelica into the music. Boris debuted with 1996’s ‘Absolutego’, a one hour plus drone track that taught me a true appreciation of music as sound, rather than as music. It was a pivotal moment for my tastes in general; lying in bed a bit pissed and letting that record expand my brain.

Three records that are essential: 2005’s ‘Pink’, 1998’s ‘Amplifier Worship’ and the classic ‘Feedbacker’ from 2003. Other highlights from their discography include the skull caving debut ‘Absolutego’, the heavy rocking ‘Heavy Rocks’ from 2002 and their ‘Soundtrack from Film Mabuta No Ura’, a soundtrack written to a film that doesn’t exist. Of their collaborative efforts, ‘Rainbow’ with Michio Kurihara and ‘Altar’ with Sunn0))) are of particular note.

Turn on, turn up and melt

Sometimes, fate conspires against me. I planned this evening to settle in with a book and a few progressive death metal albums. I had Pestilence – Spheres, Atheist – Piece of Time and Cynic – Focus all queued up, the three best and strangest of the originators of properly progessive death metal. But then, lo and behold, I spy on the interwebs that Sleep have released a new song called ‘The Clarity’. So all plans are put on hold until this mighty news and music has been fully disgested.

‘The Clarity’, first off an ironic title given the level of fuzz and mind warping that Sleep tracks have been known to include in the past, is probably the band’s clearest statement of intent. Twenty years after their last original material was written, to say that the wait for new Sleep material was endless is an understatement. Thank fuck we had High on Fire and Om to sate us in the meantime. ‘The Clarity’ strips out most but not all of the fuzz that layers upon Matt Pike’s hypnotising riffs. Al Cisneros intones his lyrics languidly, inducing that stoner haze that Sleep do so well. The transcendant, soaring solo that appears about 5:25 is one of 2014’s purest moments of musical joy. It’s kaleidoscopic, triumphant and mesmerising.

Hopefully this leads into a new Sleep album sooner rather than later, but we would be fools to expect. We should only hope, with the rumbling bass of ‘The Clarity’ as our spirit guide, that something resembling a full length will emerge from the haze some day. If not, then this at least is a welcome sight. All hail the leaf, and all hail Sleep.

Yet again I’m combining a couple of days listening because of lack of time. Maybe I should’ve just done one MEGA blog at the end of the month. Well, its too late now, I must persevere! Yesterday and today have been reasonably eclectic, for some strange reason:

Dragonforce – Sonic Firestorm

Grand Funk Railroad – Grand Funk

Cactus – One Way or Another

Anacrusis – Manic Impressions

Kreator – Hordes of Chaos

Blues Pills – Devil Man (EP)

Sodom – Obsessed by Cruelty

Arstidir Lifsins – Jitunheima Dolgferd

Now, I’m technically cheating here because I’m only about halfway through that last one, listening at the moment and its a magnificently crafted slice of pagan black metal. It feels vibrant and passionate, and mostly authentic. Dragonforce’s last record was a big improvement on the 40,000 notes a song bollocks that the one before was. ‘Inhuman Rampage’ continues to be their peak, but ‘Sonic Firestorm’ is a solid, anthemic power metal record where the notes-per-second is beginning to creep up. Anacrusis is a strange record; I like the songs and riffs on ‘Manic Impressions’ but I’m not so sure about it vocally. It’s solid but uninspiring.

Kreator and Sodom are both two of my favourite bands. ‘Obsessed by Cruelty’ is a nasty slice of what would become a prototype of early black metal, whilst retaining all the hallmarks of savage, raw thrash. ‘Hordes of Chaos’ is what thrash needs to sound like in the 21st century. It’s vibrant, catchy as hell and full of headbanging moments. The old guard can always show the young ‘uns how to do it properly. Blues Pills are my new favourite band of the moment, their song ‘Devil Man’ is the most soulful thing I’ve heard in years. Its brilliant.

The final two, Grand Funk Railroad and Cactus are both products of my working with the great folks at The Sleeping Shaman. I’ve started to listen to a lot more psychedelic rock and doom since I started writing for them, and both ‘Grand Funk’ and ‘One Way or Another’ are full of great, hard rock guitar and are blueprints for what would eventually become stoner rock and stoner doom. I particularly enjoyed the Cactus record, and I’m gonna look out some more soon!