Saturday, December 16, 2017
Top 10 Sludge / Stoner Albums of 2017
So this list was started because well doom and sludge are not the same thing. Neither is doom and stoner rock. While stoner rock and sludge are not the same thing, the lines seem to be blurred a little closer and basically this is about how much pot you are smoking. If you are smoking pot hoping for the apocalypse then you are sludge, you also probably like crusty punk. If you are riding around the desert smoking pot while hoping to find more pot to smoke while listening to Thin Lizzy you are stoner rock. Now that that is out of the way I have also included the reason the albums are ranked as they are in case that brings up even more questions.
10-Space Witch- "Arcanum"
Living up to their name these guys can be the metal equivalent to kraut rock and in fact employ some synth sounds that are taken from the annuls of kraut rock.As the band's second album it would be properly enjoyed to the fullest extent of the bong as a sound track to sailing out of your mind and over your couch in the late night hours. The riffs bubble out of the distortion like the liquid in a lava lamp.
This might be the first time I have had a demo on a top ten list. The Germans in Ocaso ask where does sludge begin and neo-crust end. Another question is does having a violin part automatically make you neo-crust , folk or otherwise? I I think there are more battle metal elements at play than this band wants to confess to. Some of this lies in the darker mood being conveyed.They beat out Space Witch because they are darker.
8-Bury the Machines-"Wicked Covenant"
John E Bomher of the Chicago based band Yakuza released a solo album where he is a one man sludge band. He blends bleak melodies and layers the vocals on the first song so the more droning sung vocals sits over an almost black metal rasp. I like this much better than the typical gruff bark most sludge bands rely on.This is a coasting on a sea of bong smoke as nightfall comes sort of album, but certainly one of the better sludge albums, beating out Ocaso, because this is a more full realized and polished project.
7- Devil Electric-S/T
his Australian band busts out some pretty hefty rock that falls some where between doom and stoner rock. So it's either dark stoner or doom. I think this was being called occult rock or vest metal a few years ago. There is some Sabbath worship, but their singer has a personality of her own and is not just trying to totally fall in line with all the Grace Slicksters that came after Christian Mistress. Great production and catchy songs. In fact the songs are so catchy that they elevate this album above Bury the Machines.
6- Seer- Cult of the Void -
This Canadian band brings metallic elements to their sludged out rock n roll. Like a rough and tumble version of Katatonia as the baritone vocals are carried with more balls. Very melodic they give into their dark side wand has darker side to it like a more grunge ridden Woods of Ypres. So not the most original band on the list , but they combine all of these elements in a powerful way that elevates this album over the more hooky songwriting of Devil Electric.
5-the Melvins -"A Walk With Love & Death"
If Mike Patton gives these guys a huge thumbs up it's hard to argue, though he is also a fan of a special needs choir, so tastes in music might be subject to change. In the here and now is what we are going to focus because despite their legacy the reality is you are only as good as your last album. "Death" is the rock album end of this double album equation and to be honest the only part of it that matters the rest was noise. They rock part of this however was so go that it made it to number 7 on here so that says something. It grew on me each time I listened to it and has way more depth than Seer so that's why they are 5 and this album is 4.
4- Horseneck-"Heavy Trip"
Former members of Wil Haven and Jess Gowrie who played drums for Chelsea Wolfe. It is a wild ride that ranges from a crazy 70's style boogie to a manically screamed Kvelertak like rock n roll strut. So this is a more punk take on swamp metal, at times seems influenced by Kyuss, and at others a beast of it's own making. This wild energy is what found it beating out the more refined Melvins.
Bongs across the world must be aflame so the trend of super psyche filled sludge continues this time coming from Italy. These guys continue to take their sound even further out in the cosmos. These guys take the Sabbath core of stoner rock and obscure with clouds of tripping haze. The vocals feel more Pink Floyd like to me than carrying any kind of an Ozzy influence. With each song they take you further into the depths of their warped rabbit hole. More ambitious than Horseneck with a sonically heavier sound.
2-King Woman- "the Image of Suffering"
There is an even more dream like haze cast over the doom-gaze of the band's debut full length than we found on their previous ep. This hits a sweet spot for me as it once again proves you don't have to adhere to the typical trapping of metal in order to be heavy.She does allow for some of her backing vocal tracks to to into more of a scream and the guitar carries the dense distortion. Vocally powerful it was an album that makes you want to dig deeper into it with each listen. Vocally more powerful than "8" so that is why this album sits at number 2.
1- Amenra-Mass VI
This band from Belgium is back with another piece of despair. With members of Oathbreaker in the fold they deliver a lush take on metal. The atmosphere might be even thicker on this album than it was on the previous releases. I am not hearing this as just a sludge band as the Neurosis worship has been washed away in favor of a sound that has more emotional depth. The anguish howls of the vocals and their accompanying guitar parts really pack the heart punch here.It starts off with the kind of aggressive sludge you expected from them though the anger almost borders on hardcore.