June 2023 proves again that nothing in this life is certain, except for Death, Taxes, and the Doom Charts. One way or another, the Doom Charts are gonna come out, which keeps this website flipping busy. And all the other people on the Doom Charts, so you really should check them all out. But, this is my list, so let’s get on with it…
10. KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD – PETRODRAGONIC APOCALYPSE
King Gizzard is a really hard band for me to like. First off, I can’t stand saying the full band name, let alone write it out two or three times. Secondly, they come across as way too stylized for me, kind of like why I stopped watching American Horror Story. But with PetroDragonic Apocaplypse, not even I can resist the incredible musicianship, full-tilt riffage and overall badassery of the band. It’s almost enough to make me listen to their earlier stuff, from like a few weeks ago…
9. BOG MONKEY – HOLLOW
Yeah, this came out in March. It didn’t hit my fancy back then, but like so many releases we get over the year, sometimes it takes a while for things to soak in. Bog Monkey is a perfect example of a band that needs a second, maybe even a third chance. The groove and the riffs are undeniable, the whole album is just a good fucking time. Nowadays, I think we need more of that. Give this one another shot, or a first shot if you missed it the first time around. Besides, it feels more like a summer album to me anyway…
8. MOTHMAN AND THE THUNDERBIRDS – GAZER
Serious pop-hooks spiced up with psychedelic, stoner-ish riffs and a quirky sense of humor. Definitely on the lighter side for a Stoner/Doom obsessed brain, I’m surprised that I like it as much as I do. Again, it just feels like a great summer album. But what’s really weird about it, is I usually don’t like summer all that much. This kinda changes my mind a bit!
7. NEW DAWN FADES – FOREVER
Folk will appreciate the solid Corrosion of Conformity foundation, including the rousing choruses. This is definitely a Philly take on Raleigh’s finest, the kind that can unite the North/South divide into fist-pumping harmony. I hear so many influences it’s hard to keep track, but damn, this just fricking works. It’s kinda like late 80’s rock before money and MTV got ahold of the LA scene and ruined the party. Full on balls-out swagger with one of the best vocal performances this year. Check out the full review here.6. WITCHSKULL – THE SERPENT TIDE
Oh thank goodness! I was beginning to forget this is a Doom-centric blog, or at least focused on very heavy rock. Witchskull is a very un-gentle reminder that old-school, kickass Doom-adjacent metal is far from dead. Nothing earth-shatteringly original here, just world-class heavy rock with more than a nod towards traditional Doom a la Pentagram, The Obsessed and other down-and-dirty denizens from the decades past. The only problem: no Bandcamp!
5. WIZARD TATTOO – FABLES OF THE DAMNED
Concept albums are all the rage, and Bram the Bard is slightly ahead of the trend with Fables of the Damned continuing the saga of a dude who gets a tattoo and things get…weird. And fun, exciting and even heavy. It’s an addictive blend of old-school metal with a prog/stoner twist that will plant more than one stank face grin on thy visage. Damn, this guy’s fucking good!!!
4. BLACK RAINBOWS – SUPERSKULL
I struggled mightily with Superskull over the past few weeks. I still can’t put my finger on what rubbed me wrong at first, but it almost didn’t make the cut in my top 10, or even my top 20. But have you ever heard something you didn’t like, but the hooks, groove and riff just won’t leave you alone? Yeah, that’s this album for me for. Maybe I’m just pissed off that an Italian band is putting out pure desert-twinged guitar rock better than a lot of ‘Mericans are doing. Or anyone else, for that matter. This is one that truly gets better with every listen.
3. CHURCH OF MISERY – BORN UNDER A MAD SIGN
I will simply never understand Tatsu Mikami , the bassist/leader and only permanent member of Church of Misery. For one thing, watching the dude play bass makes my tendonitis flare up out of sympathy for what he’s putting his body through. Secondly, what exactly is his commentary, if any, on the subjects he addresses? Thirdly, how in the hell can a patch-work band thrown together seemingly at random put out on album of Pure Doom with the most propulsive groove since the first three Orange Goblin albums? This is stellar stuff, y’all, and even though it’s #3 this month, it’s still an Album of the Year contender. As for Rise Above Records’ policy regarding Bandcamp- no comment.
2. SAINT KARLOFF – PALEOLITHIC WAR CRIMES
Saint Karloff has risen the top of the Heavy Underground over the past six years. Their debut was a throwback to the days before Black Sabbath changed the world, breathing new life into Stoner/Doom. Then they changed their game with the second LP, Interstellar Voodoo, a 40-minute riff-fest of galactic proportions.
On Paleolithic War Crimes, they take things up a few more notches. In light of the untimely death of founding bassist Ole Sletner, singer/guitarist Mads Melvold and drummer Adam Suleiman pulled themselves together and produced one of the greatest true Stoner/Doom releases so far this decade. There’s something here for everyone, but if you need to choose one song that sums it all up, you can’t go wrong with Death Don‘t Have No Mercy.
1. for June 2023: SNAKEMOTHER – SNAKEMOTHER
If I had to chose the Album of the Year right here and now, this is it. From the opening drone of the harmonium on Ritual to the closing fury of the misleadingly-titled Little Lady, I find every note, phrase and transition of this album to be perfect. I have no favorite song, no favorite riff, no favorite performance. Snakemother is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. Check out my full review here, and BUY this damn thing.
Two major albums came out this month. At HQ we decided to write and publish reviews, loosening our focus on the Heavy Underground. We did so because Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age have had a massive impact on rock over the past few decades, including our scene.
If it wasn’t for Josh Homme and his work with Kyuss, I doubt we’d have much to listen to, at the very least Stoner/Doom would be very different. And while Josh did indeed turn his back on Stoner/Doom with the commercial success of QOTSA, he didn’t turn his back on his friends. He’s not a perfect human being, and he lays that out for all to see on In Times Roman… Our new writer Colin Peterson wrote an excellent review of the album, which you can read here.
As for Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters, well, this album fucked me up for sure. While there are clear and implied musical nods to certain Stoner/Doom/Prog techniques, it’s the content of the damn beast that’s overwhelming, albeit glossed-up with the usual Foo production. My take is available here.
However, out of respect to our audience and the bands we serve, we opted not to include them on our submission. They don’t need our help, and it would be disrespectful to the hundreds of bands worldwide that are urgently waiting for at least someone to recognize their hard work and creativity. At Clean and Sober Stoner, we’re not gonna pretend that the mainstream doesn’t exist, or that all commercially successful music sucks. We just think that the bands we cover deserve their shot…
Thanks again to Colin for his amazing contribution this month. We can’t wait to read what he comes up with next!