The end of 2020 is almost upon us (thank fuck) and the first of Worship Metal’s annual countdown’s of some of the best music 2020 had to offer is here! While the title may say stoner rock / metal, we’re throwing a little psych, sludge and aspects of doom into the mix too.
Here’s Worship Metal’s pick of the 10 Greatest Stoner Rock / Metal Albums Of 2020:
10. Acid Mammoth – Under Acid Hoof [Greece]
Genre: Stoner Metal, Doom Metal,
A drug-addled mammoth sounds like a scary thing; lumbering across the landscape with no real control of its great big stomping feet, its weighty mass stumbling through the undergrowth as its tusks of doom prodded and poked at your nether-regions. Fortunately, Acid Mammoth are in far greater control of their motor-functions and while they do settle into lengthy jams, there was an overall cohesion to Under Acid Hoof that 100% captivated its listener.
With a sound best described as proto-doom – as opposed to doom itself – Athens’ Acid Mammoth are a relic-hunting band in awe of those 70’s acts (Pentagram, Budgie, Iron Claw, Jerusalem, etc) who took distortion to the next level. With elephantine grooves nuzzling up against occult atmospherics – and an abundance of feedback-drenched riffs accompanied by solos that (thankfully) go on for millennia – Under Acid Hoof was an album that has found its niche and comfortably resided in it.
Released: 24th January 2020 via Heavy Psych Sounds.
9. Bismarck – Oneiromancer [Norway]
Genre: Stoner Metal, Doom Metal
Pegged as a stoner / doom band, Norway’s Bismarck are so much more than a standard fuzz and distortion act and their second album, Oneiromancer, offered up a succession of surprising excursions into otherworldly realms.
Alternating between blissful, dreamy, fuzzed-out heaviness, clean, atmospheric vibrations and shocking heaviness, this collection interpreted Western esotericism via altered states of consciousness and a mystical apocalypse. The results were universally fulfilling; challenging preconception and offering so much more than a standard stoner / doom album could ever achieve!
Released: Independently on 17th April 2020.
8. Big Scenic Nowhere – Vision Beyond Horizon [USA]
Genre: Stoner Rock, Desert Rock
Anyone familiar with the terms ‘stoner rock’ and ‘desert rock’ have heard the names Fu Manchu and Yawning Man. While stylistically different, both bands occupy legendary status and in 2020 the two entities combined, with Big Scenic Nowhere guitarists Gary Arce (Yawning Man) and Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) joining forces to thrilling effect!
From the blissfully laid back charms of “”Hidden Wall” to the up-tempo bounce of “Shadows From The Altar”, the surprises just kept on coming on this outstanding release. This was the sound of like-minded individuals simply coming together and jamming until something stuck, freely tossing ideas around and organically composing a series of inter-connected, yet unpredictable songs, which traversed the entirety of stoner rock’s spectrum.
Even back in January we knew Vision Beyond Horizon had already secured its place on this very list!
Released: 31st January 2020 via Heavy Psych Sounds.
7. Ryte – Ryte [Austria]
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Stoner Metal, Doom Metal
Having formed in Austria back in 2016, heavy psych crew Ryte were blatantly in no rush to push debut material onto unsuspecting fans. In fact, they spent an exhausting 18 months toiling away on the four tracks that made up their self titled debut and believe us when we say, it was well worth the wait!
Like the bastard love child of early Monster Magnet and Hawkwind, these guys took a riff and simply let it run to its natural conclusion. A mostly instrumental album, Ryte judiciously utilised vocals from time to time. However, it was to their credit that they kept things interesting without relying on human utterances and although some people may be put off by this, the lack of vocals was never really an issue; not when the music was this enthralling.
Released: 17th January 2020 via Heavy Psych Sounds
6. Psychlona – Venus Skytrip [UK]
Genre: Stoner Metal, Stoner Rock
Heady, trippy excursions into the cosmos awaited those who saddled up for Psychlona‘s Venus Skytrip back in August. These UK stoners had already made an impact with 2018’s debut, Mojo Rising, but with their latest space rock adventure, these Brits were channeling swagger, Sabbathian-groove and psych-rock into one supremely delicious whole.
Fuzzed up and full of vim and vigour, Venus Skytrap‘s 8 tracks are a thing of cosmic wonder and should restore your faith in good ol’ stoner rock from the very first listen. These boys may not be delivering anything new but they’re doing it so damn well that you’ll swear it’s the early 90’s all over again!.
Released: 21st August 2020 via Cursed Tongue Records / Ripple Music
5. Dopelord – Sign Of The Devil [Poland]
Genre: Doom Metal, Stoner Metal, Heavy Metal
This follow-up to 2017’s incredibly well received Children of the Haze offered more of the same – traditional stoner doom, in case you were unsure – but there was an evident evolution in their song writing which distinctly marked Sign of the Devil as Dopelord’s finest outing to date.
In particular, the deliciously diabolical “Hail Satan” riffed up an almighty storm and was propelled by high energy, vicious vocals and a spacey, psychedelic finish which marked it out as a truly great track. Basically, it’s as if Hawkwind put aside the drugs and picked up a ouija board instead…..space-rock by way of Satan’s filthy, body-strewn basement for want of a better analogy.
Never dull and built on a torrent of ear-pleasingly suffocating riffs which crushed all in their path, Sign of the Devil evoked just the right touch of despair and desperation.
Released: 10th March 2020 via Green Plague Records
4. All Them Witches – Nothing As The Ideal [USA]
Genre: Stoner Rock, Blues Rock, Psych Rock
All Them Witches continued to confound expectation with their 6th album, Nothing As The Ideal.
As enigmatic as ever, ATW’s alchemic blend of blues riffs, folk introspection, stoner groove and cosmic psych rock once again impressed immeasurably with the band continuing to evolve and grow into a unique presence of considerable skill and poise.
Warm, organic, otherworldly and virtually genre-less, the 8 tracks on Nothing As The Ideal were arguably the finest – and most unpredictable – of the bands career to date.
Where they go from here is anyone’s guess!
Released: 4th September 2020
3. Desert Storm – Omens [UK]
Genre: Sludge, Stoner Metal, Doom, Heavy Metal
To classify Omens as simply ‘another’ sludge album would be to do the UK’s Desert Storm a great disservice, as there was so much going on here to make standard genre classification virtually moot.
A gritty, heavy release both musically and lyrically – with plenty of references to illness and society’s often ill-judged disenfranchised conformity, a concept which is quite apt considering the worlds current predicament – this genre-defying release took in elements of doom, sludge, stoner metal and post metal in order to convey its message…..and convey it Desert Storm most certainly did!
Released: 1st May 2020 via APF Records
2. Elephant Tree – Habits [UK]
Genre: Psych Rock, Progressive, Stoner Metal
Elephant Tree‘s ethereal low-end fuzz reached a new zenith on this years outstanding Habits.
With their highly melodic shoegaze vocals and post-rock aesthetic expertly welded to the kind of stoner rock grooves which give any neck a through work-out, Habits found Elephant Tree soaring ever higher. At its core, it’s what they do with the ‘fuzz’ that makes Elephant Tree special, with standard stoner/doom power layered with textured self-control, and progressive grandeur.
Ambitious, dreamy, captivating and alluring, Habits is a hard album to quit!
Released: 24th April 2020 via Holy Roar Records.
1. Lowrider – Refractions [Sweden]
Genre: Stoner Metal, Stoner Rock
How was this for a comeback!
Renowned for their 2000 debut album Ode to Io, these Kyuss worshipping Swedes were MIA for the best part of 20 years and them Refractions dropped…..and the world fell in love with them all over again.
Refractions took us all back to the mid 90’s when this kinda shit was perfected and these kings of desert rock sounded like they’ve never been away. Frankly, you’d be hard pressed to find a purer stoner rock/metal release and this lovingly orchestrated, nostalgic trip down the fuzziest of roads became an instant classic upon release.
Damn near perfect, Refractions was worth the two decades wait and Lowrider are undoubtedly masters of their craft.
Released: 21st February 2020 via Blues Funeral Recordings