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The Clean and Sober Stoner Top 12 releases for July.
Without further ado, here they are! 12 slabs of Prime Stoner/Doom suitable for your favorite playlist. July was a challenging months: an earth shattering amount of music released combined with barely enough time to listen to it. Ah, first world problems!
12. DREAD SPIRE – ENDLESS EMPIRE
I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for anything that comes out of Davis, California, the home of the legendary Thin White Rope! I lived five minutes away from there for about 15 years, and it still feels like home to me. Dreadspire brought the patchouly-scented atmosphere of underground Davis with a bang. Opening track Endless Empire is a straight ahead monster riff that shows a heck of a lot of promise. The best thing about The Endless Empire is that it’s only the beginning of what I hope is a long and productive future for these guys. I also have a soft spot in my heart for fuzzed-out bass/drum duos, and this definitely scratches that itch!
11. BUSS – AROUSED
Buss is a straight-ahead, no-nonsense Stoner band that delivers the kind of no frills, no excuses Heavy Rock a part of me lives for. Not as heavy as a lot of bands that I like, they more than make up for it with energy, crisp songs, and vicious hooks. This one is a sleeper that’s going to grow on a lot of people for the rest of the year, hopefully beyond. Italy is producing some of the most diverse and unexpected music within the entire heavy underground, and Aroused is a great entry point.
10. SUSPIRIORUM – SUSPIRIORUM
Every month I seem to find at least one album that was released earlier in the year and give it a little love. In this case, it’s this three song EP from Texas band Suspiriorum that I think is worth checking out for a lot of reasons. There’s not a lot new going on with it, including the movie clips, but that’s part of the appeal. The guitar playing is awesome, the production is stellar, and I absolutely love the vocals. Give this one a shot if you love horror-themed heavy rock verging oh-so-close to Doom! Besides, I LOVE Suspiria: both movies!
9. MARIJUANA JOHNSON – REEFER CHAMBER
I don’t smoke weed, and haven’t in nearly 31 years. Listening to Marijuana Johnson makes me worried about having to take a piss test. It’s like they processed everything great about Stoner Rock and Metal into a potent hash that would knock the whole city of Amsterdam on it’s ass. Reefer Chamber is a little bit heavy, psychedelic and grooved-out with more than a nod to the mid-90’s classics that gave birth to the genre. Now, where did I put my Visine…
8. SLOW WAKE – FALLING FATHOMS
I’m getting to the part of my list when I wince. #8 seems far too low a rating for Slow Wake. This is high-caliber Stoner/Psych that’s probably going to stick with me for years. It’s not just that these guys hail from my birthplace of Cleveland: I’d probably go nuts over it they were from Michigan. Lake Erie may be a joke to most of the country, but there’s something magical about that lake that Slow Wake has captured perfectly. I think if you close your eyes, Falling Fathoms will evoke your favorite body of water as well, with a dazzling display of song-craft and Heavy Psych perfection that hits like a hybrid of Elder and Somali Yacht Club.
7. MONOLORD – IT’S ALL THE SAME
What? #7 for one of my all-time favorite bands? Yep- they only gave us 2 awesome songs, so I deduct massive points for being a tease. Glaive gives off that heavy, mournful vibe that’s so addictive. The production is cleaner than ever, giving more room for the standard-setting gnarl and growl of the band. It’s different enough to gain them even more fans while remaining distinctively Monolord, for which one song is too many but a thousand is never enough. And I need MORE!!!
6. SORCIA – LOST SEASON
Sorcia gives us an album as informed by Electric Wizard as Windhand, and it’s every bit as exciting as a combination of those two bands could possibly be. I remember their debut, Sorcia, having a similar vibe, and this is one time where the second album seems to pick up right where the first left off. This time there’s more Heavy Psych elements, which adds to the atmosphere and gives more texture to album. The vocal harmonies are just the icing on the cake of a fantastic Doom album!
5. EIGHT FOOT MANCHILD – SHRINE OF THE ORANGE SUNN
Godzilla! Kung-Fu movies! Sax and Tuba! It all comes together in Shrine of the Orange Sunn, a complete reimagining of all things heavy. This is by far their best release to date, with the Sax and Tuba taking over bass and guitar duties with vicious execution, thanks refinement in the recording techniques. Dylan’s writing continues to explore all the possibilities while remaining true to their original intent. Anyone who says there’s nothing original in Doom obviously haven’t listened to Eight Foot Manchild, and this is the perfect opportunity to jump in. Check out our YouTube interview with one of the masterminds behind a project that keeps getting better!
4. LIE HEAVY – BURN TO THE MOON
Lie Heavy’s Burn to the Moon is quite simply the best example of heavy, blues oriented, straight ahead rock I’ve heard in a very long time. I’ve had the opportunity to see them twice, and I can attest to the fact that they have captured about 80% of the energy of their live performance in this no nonsense slab of guitar driven awesomeness. Fronted by veteran vocalist Karl Agell (Corrosion of Conformity), this is a statement album from a band destined to go beyond being a regional favorite. Sadly, there is no Bandcamp link, but they are available on all the streaming platforms. If you ever get a chance to see them, take it!
3. THUNDER HORSE – AFTER THE FALL
Released on Ripple Music, this Texas-based outfit brings a spin on Doom that’s totally unlike the usual suspects. There’s an energy and anger on this album that reminds of what Soundgarden brought to the Grunge-era. Full-tilt swagger and badassery that makes you want to take a stand and SCREAM against the dying of the light. This is invigorating stuff that has no room for whining or hunching one’s shoulders in defeat. When life kicks you in the ass, then it’s time to kick it in the nuts!
2. AURALAYER – THOUSAND PETALS
Damn. This album is…amazing! As I wrote earlier this month…”if you like to live on the edge and have no regard for mindless compliance or conformity, this might just be the ticket. But I gotta warn you, Auralayer’s Thousand Petals is probably going to duke it out for Album of the Year at Clean and Sober Stoner, maybe even the Doom Charts, against the likes of Hail the Void, Faerie Ring, Snakemother and Acid King. Once you cross that line, it can be hard to go back…”
1. DIVIDE AND DISSOLVE – SYSTEMIC
This is real Doom in many regards. Not that any other form or band isn’t real, it’s just that Divide and Dissolve has the uncomfortable ability to express themselves as indigenous people and write music that reflects what it feels like to be themselves. But that’s when things get scary: they also write what it would be like if majority of populations had to experience any sense of objective, detached, universal justice.
I’m as wary and weary of virtue-signaling as an Anheuser Busch executive. But there is a time and place for it, for taking a clear stand and sending a direct message, no matter how uncomfortable. Doom Metal is the exact place that this should happen, in my opinion. The unflinching honesty, earnestness, and musical agility on this album alone would put it in my top five. The fact did the artists believe that Doom is the most effective means of expression is what strikes me the most, and puts them at #1.