Sunday, February 5, 2012

Let's talk about stoner doom.

So Terrorizer are working on a top-secret, soon to be announced special issue of the magazine, focused on a genre I hold very dear to my heart. I conducted a handful of Q&A-style mini-interviews with a few of stoner doom & sludge's finest to round out one of the pieces I contributed, and their answers were so rad that I figured it'd be a shame to allow them to languish within the confines of my inbox forever.


ACID KING's Lori Joseph on stoner rock:

- What kind of effect, if any, do you think grunge had on the stoner rock sound andAcid King's in particular?

Speaking for myself grunge had influences on me. Soundgarden, Melvins and Mudhoney how could they not! I think it depends on when you started playing. I was in a band during the entire grunge period so I was already 70's influenced and then came this. I think for me it turned me on to lower tuning, more effects pedals and playing slowwwwwwwww.

- How did people react when bands like you first came into the picture in the mid-90's? Was heavier, riff-based, doomy music popular, or was it more of a struggle to get noticed and respected?

We were definitely ahead of our time. There were no labels or really many other bands like ours. We had a decent reaction but there was no one backing this music up so it was hard to get noticed. Doom music was more popular in Europe and any heavier music was based out of there or Frederick Maryland which is the capitol of Doom!

- The biker aesthetic has seeped into a lot of stoner rock culture; why do you think the two fit together so wel?

I really don't know anyone with a motorcycle but me in SF playing this music. . Old biker movies had psychedelic music in the background so I can see how this was an influence. I think in the most simplest of explanations, old bikes and biker movies are cool and make good record covers!

- What did you think when you first heard bands like Sleep and Kyuss?

I remember 1st hearing Kyuss in Chicago at this Bar called Crash Palace in the early 90's along with Monster Magnet. I was like HOLY SHIT who are these bands! Ran out and bought whatever I could find. I didn't hear about Sleep until after I moved to SF in 1992 and I was one of the lucky ones to see them play many shows and play with them back in the day. I was freaking blown away. They floored me. I saw them every time they played in SF. I only missed 1 show before they called it day back then.

- How big of an impact would you say that California and the West Coast in general has had upon stoner rock in general?

Hmmmmm, well with Kyuss, St. Vitus, Fu Manchu a lot! There are a bazillion sound a like bands still ripping these guys off!

- How would you define "stoner rock"?

Lori's definition: Stoner rock is term that was coined by the people who listen to the music not the musicians themselves. To generalize it is can be described as heavy distorted groove infused riffs that hypnotizes.

The End!


CROWBAR/DOWN's Kirk Windstein on sludge (he likes capslock):

- How did people react when bands like you first came into the picture in the mid-90's? Was heavier, riff-based, punk-loving doomy music popular, or was it more of a struggle to get noticed and respected?

- New Orleans is the home of the sludge sound, no doubt; Crowbar, EyeHateGod, Acid Bath, and all the other amazing bands (even Down get way heavy!). The Southern roots show. Do you think it's strange when bands from very different areas (the UK, Japan, etc) try to recreate that Southern sludge sound?

- What did you think when you first heard bands like Black Sabbath, and Black Flag?

- How would you define "sludge"?


ORANGE GOBLIN's Ben Ward on stoner rock:

- What kind of effect, if any, do you think grunge had on the stoner rock sound and Orange Goblin's in particular?

I guess that grunge probably had a lot more of an impact on the US scene than in the UK when it came to ‘stoner’. I think the main connection obviously lies in the close relationship between Nirvana and The Melvins and I think that both movements were probably born out of a frustration with mundane, pop-rock garbage and hair metal that was dominating rock radio at the end of the 80’s / start of the 90’s. The early US stoner bands like Fu Manchu and Monster Magnet definitely came across as a kind of heavier and more freaked out Mudhoney! I suppose the common ground in it all is a mutual love of Black Sabbath which is the most prominent influence on all the UK bands from that period too. Orange Goblin didn’t really take a great deal from grunge, although we did cover an Alice In Chains song in the very, very early days!

- As Our Haunted Kingdom, you released a split with fellow stoner gods Electric Wizard before changing your nam and forging ahead. How did people react to bands like you two first came into the picture in the mid-90's? Was heavier, riff-based, doomy music popular, or was it more of a struggle to get noticed and respected?

Over here Cathedral were the first band to move into the realms of blatant Sabbath inspired, heavy doom and when bands like Electric Wizard, Acrimony, Mourn and ourselves started to get recognition we were all dubbed as Cathedral clones. I accept that as a compliment as we were all massive fans of Cathedral and they were definitely the godfathers of the whole movement here in the UK. It took a while for the UK press to start to take bands like us seriously as we were just branded as hippies and plagiarists. It was only when the US bands like Sleep, Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Clutch and Fu Manchu etc came over here that it started to take off and grow. I definitely think that had we been an American band we would have achieved far greater success back then. It was deemed a lot cooler to be able to sing about the desert, getting stoned at the beach, hot girls and surfing etc than it was to tell fantasy stories of druids, wizards and real life misery!

- What did you think when you first heard bands like Sleep and Kyuss?

The first time I heard Sleep must’ve been about 1992 when they released ‘Sleeps Holy Mountain’ and I honestly thought it was a lost Black Sabbath recording! I fell in love with it immediately and it was one of the reasons why we decided to change our name and direction. The first time I heard Kyuss was when I saw them live in London. It was like a wall of noise that blew everyone away and I went out the next day and bought ‘Blues For The Red Sun’. Again, they were a massive influence on what would become Orange Goblin. All of a sudden our little scene in the UK was being exposed to these new amazing US bands, as well as the likes of Saint Vitus, Trouble, The Obsessed etc and we started to notice that the press were sitting up and once again paying attention to Sabbath inspired, heavy rock.

- How big of an impact would you say the UK has had upon stoner rock in general? A helluva lot of important bands have come from Blighty!

I suppose you have to say that the biggest ‘stoner’ band in terms of their influence would have to be Black Sabbath so in that respect the UK can boast the biggest impact. I think we can be very proud here of all the great bands that this little island has produced, from The Beatles and Stones etc right through to ourselves and Electric Wizard and everything in between. I’ve always thought that the term ‘stoner’ kind of belongs more to the American side of things and the British (and Europeans) do more of the ‘doom’ thing, but that’s not to say that the US doesn’t have a wealth of amazing doom bands too!

- How would you define "stoner rock"?

I’m not sure that you really can. I suppose it should mean any form of rock music that you listen to when getting stoned, so that could be anything from The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd, right through to Cannibal Corpse and Cephalic Carnage!!! Obviously it is attributed to bands like us and all those that I’ve mentioned previously here but I suppose it’s generally used for any band that has a slight resemblance to Black Sabbath in terms of riffs, tone and attitude. If I was asked to define stoner rock with just one album, I think it would have to be ‘Jerusalem’ by Sleep as that captures every element that you would associate with the scene and the phrase!


IRON MONKEY's Justin Greaves on sludge:

How did people react when you first came into the picture in the mid-90's? Was heavier, riff-based, doomy music popular, or was it more of a struggle to get noticed and respected?

I think people didn't know what to make of us to be honest, at that time there weren't many bands around making such a racket. All the guys in the band came from a more Hardcore background, but at the same time we were into heavy bands too, so it made sense to us to try and play both styles. We'd all heard bands like Upsidedown Cross, It Is I, Integrity etc, mixing doom and hardcore from trading tapes and 7" vinyl, plus Jim and Doug had been playing in a doom style band called Ironside. The thing was that in our area that kind of music wasn't known very well, or it wasn't popular, so when we played our first show, people just didn't know what fuck was going on, i guess we might have taken heavy music and simply played it infront of an unsuspecting audience. We didn't have much respect and things were never easy for us, not that we were too concerned about being popular, i think we just wanted to be one of those kind of bands that we liked, the sort that nobody knows but blows you away when you find them...Actually, i think we must have formed the band to annoy ourselves.

- What did you think when you first heard bands like Black Flag, the Melvins and later, EyeHateGod?

I didn't like early Melvins at first, i heard them when i was working in a record shop, but then they grew on me and ended up being one of my favourite bands for years, but then i think all classic bands have that initial effect on people, probably because they're so different from what you're used to. But like all of those bands you mention, i did think it sounded different for their time and i reckon most of us were (and still are) into music that's different to some extent. Being involved in that kind music, underground bands etc, you come across a few revelations, a band like Grief for instance, they were showing that ultra-slow can be mind-adjusting, with a lot of bands it was like hearing something you wished had existed but didn't realise it did. Growing up with punk and heavy music almost always separated but being into both styles, it was like getting the best of both all mixed up, in the music, the artwork and the attitude. I think al of us in the band felt at home and it came very natural to us. But i reckon a lot of I.M. fans nowadays would be suprised at what we were listening to.

- How big of an impact would you say the UK has had upon the sludge sound in general? A helluva lot of important bands have come from Blighty, and the current scene is full of great bands!

I don't know, has it been a big impact? It certainly didn't feel like that at the time, it's probably hard to be objective about it for us. I still like hearing new bands that play slow/heavy hardcore/punk, but maybe there's too many to appreciate them on the same level. There some great bands though, like Undersmile, they're pretty gloomy and distressing but in an old-school Seatle way, with twin female vocals, dark angels dragging the corpse of doom-rock. Or there's Manatees, they're great, they push the boundries of what "sludge" is supposed to be, i like that. What i don't like is to hear tons of bands sounding exactly the same, it's really weird having been involved in that scene, at the time it was mostly shit, we got slagged off, ripped off and no support (apart from our friends around the country), so now when people look back on it and think it made a big difference, it's hard to see, we experienced something very different. Having said that, i'm pleased to hear it influences bands still, but then the UK underground scene has always been an influence on people, the bunch of bands before I.M. came out like Deviated Instinct, Axe Grinder..etc.. then the band before them like Amebix, Anit-sect etc... you could keep going backwards, it all counts, bands like us, Acrimony, Stalingrad, Kito, Manfat, we didn't come up with a new kind of music, we might just have adjusted it a bit to suit ourselves.

- How would you define "sludge"?

A chance to wind people up.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


New post for my NECROLUST column on Metalsucks. View the published post here:



So what have we got here? Three new favorites: two recently discovered and one that’s finally grown on me. Something new, something kind of new, and something really old. Two “temples” and some South American madness. Varying shades of blasphemy. Loud, ugly, and evil as fuck. Check ‘em out.


Not to be confused with Fleshpress (which I totally did at first glance), New Jersey’s Fleshtemple are an bastardized punk band based in DIY stronghold New Brunswick, and they are tough as SHIT. Hardcore punk roots burst through the black, but there are plenty of full-on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas moments on here, and when they slow it down to a doomier, more atmospheric crawl, the results are wickedly effective. The recordings are rough (duh) but the foggy, raw presentation adds to its charm. Fleshtemple formed in 2007 and includes members of Seasick, Bible Thumper, Suburban Scum, and “like ten other current bands,” according to guitarist Pete August. They’ve already got three releases out, but I’m really interested to check out the full length they’re working on (due out in April). For now, listen to their latest recording for free on Bandcamp.


Electric Wizard definitely get ripped off a lot nowadays (while they in turn gleefully ripped off plenty of Sleep and ‘Sabbath riffs – it’s a vicious circle, eh?) but at least one of the bands that continually get graced (or slammed) with the “Electric Wizard worship” tag doesn’t really deserve it. That band is Sweden’s Saturnalia Temple. Similarities exist of course, but this shadowy trio conjure up a different sort of vibe, an air of madness and menace. Less druglust, more ancient abattoir clouded with incense and the blood of ritual sacrifice. Saturnalia Temple are obsessed with the occult and the esoteric, black magic and ancient secrets, and manage to instill that unsettling otherness into their doomed creation. Heavy, heavy distortion cloaks their compositions, lazy, hazy stoner riffs slink and sway. It almost sounds as though the record’s skipping, the needle moved by unseen hands. Above all, the creepy, moaning vocals are the strangest component – stuttering, echoing, and unhinged to the point of distraction. An acquired taste worth acquiring. Formed in Stockholm in 2006, they’ve spent the last few years honing their craft, releasing quality albums (check out their Ur demo, they were solid right from the start!) and just recently offered up their first full-length, Aion of Drakon (via the AJNA Offensive).


Impurity just may be the best cover-turned-tribute band since the Carcass-baiting and ever so genteel The County Medical Examiners (or Eat My Fuk – have you heard that shit? Autopsy’s GG Allin worship project? Fantastically gross scum punk!). Originally formed under the Sexfago moniker in 1988 and dedicated to playing gloriously primitive versions of already bestial bands like Hellhammer, Blasphemy, Bathory, and, of fucking course, Sarcofago, Impurity eventually decided to switch gears and try their hands at writing their own material. Their first demo’s worth of original songs surfaced in 1989 (guess rehearsing all three minutes of “Satanic Lust” over and over lost its appeal pretty early in the game), and while their influences are glaringly obvious (SarcoBlaspheHammer!) Impurity are an excellent example of why “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” works so well in a black metal sense. Officially aligned with Brazil’s beyond legendary Cogumelo Records and with over twenty years of ritualized combat under their bulletbelts, these South American maniacs are still fucking killing it. Their last full-length, Necro Infamists of Tumulus Return, slays, and I can’t find their 2010 demo The Impurity Temple/Bonus 2008 anywhere, but I bet that fucking rules, too.

Their 1996 LP Into the Ritual Chamber is my favorite:


Immortal Rites: Florida Death Metal Reigns Eternal

Florida death metal was my first true metal love. Saltyeggs asked me to write a piece about it (shoutout to James Murphy!):

Check it out: