Doom metal and stoner rock are the psychedelic mid-paced offsprings of blues that was first heard in the early metal music of black sabbath. It is said that Tomi Iommi’s distinct gloomy blues-inspired riffs are the inspiration for current day doom metal and stoner rock bands. Doom metal is most widely known for its fuzzed out guitars, groovy riffs and generally muffed out vocals; the repetitive psychedelic waves is paramount for this genre of music, that gives it this quintessential “acid trip-esque” feeling that most listeners are searching for.
Stoner rock shares a lot of similarities with Doom metal, which is why more often than not, you’ll find the two mixed together in playlists. The main difference, however, is that stoner rock is more rooted in its classic-blues-rock predecessor as well as their melodic beats, whereas doom metal is more centered on being so heavy that you can feel every beat in your teeth (weird analogy, but you get what I mean if you’ve been to a doom metal show).
These two genres of music is something I have naturally been drawn to simply due to the fact they are a beautiful mix of two of my most favourite genres of music: blues & metal; it has the soulful twang of the deep dark south that I love so much, but that dirty fuzz of guitar that I love most about metal music.
Since seeing one of my favourite doom metal/stoner rock bands live, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats (read more about that show here), a month ago, I have rediscovered my love for the genre and have fallen down the rabbit hole of a discovering an abundance of cool upcoming bands. Coincidentally they all happen to be from Sweden too, so maybe my Spotify is not only stalking my few life activities, but also my travel locations… nonetheless, I am eager to share these discoveries with you!
The first band that I have recently stumbled across is Monolord. Monolord is a three-piece doom metal band from Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden that came to gether in 2013. The band consists of Esben Willems on drums, Mika Häkki on bass and Thomas Jäger on both lead guitar and vocals. Monolord is a band that I’ve quickly grown obesssed with due to their insane ability of balancing keeping a song heavy but also catchy. The first song I heard by the band is their current single “Rust”, which is appropiately also their most streamed song, as well as holds the same title as their most current LP. To me, “Rust” had been the perfect introduction to the band, as it is a sublime concoction of pscyhedlic vibes and what I like to call “face melting metal”.
The reason “Rust” captured my attention is their choice to open the song with a bluesy organ intro that carries the song into gospel-inspired vocals, then after setting you up with a distinctive blues presentation it just drops into guitar with heavy drums that you can’t help but contort your face to as you headbang along. I instantly knew from the first listen, that I’d be hooked. I then began digging into their discography, I needed more, and I still want more.
“Rust” is the band’s second LP, which much to my dismay, the LP only carries six songs in its pocket. Although the songs are longer than a typical rock track, which is the norm when it comes to doom metal (most songs average 6 and a half minutes), I was shocked to learn that “Rust” didn’t fall under the “Double EP” category. To a casual listener, this is probably something that doesn’t matter, but again, once you get into their music you kinda start itching for more…and, well, there isn’t. It’s like a game of tease, they give you songs that elicit goosebumps from both the heaviness and grooviness, so you spend a couple of hours listening to everything and then sadly, that’s the end of the musical trip. It is safe to say, though that I am eagerly anticipating a new album from the band and I’m sure after you all give them a listen, you’ll be too.
Despite the majority of the bands in this post being considerably new, Greenleaf has actually been an established project for nearly two decades. However, the band has changed lineups with every album, so I guess, in a way, it makes it a new band every album or so (that’s up to you decide). Greenleaf had initially been created as a side project in 1999 by Tommi Holappa of the Swedish band Dozer with Daniel Lidén of Demon Cleaner and producer/studio engineer for many Swedish bands in the area, Bengt Bäcke.
The original lineup created and published one studio EP that was self-titled (2000) and 1 LP called “Revolution Rock” (2001). Since then, the band continuously switched around members, with Tommi remaining as the only original member throughout every album, or era I suppose. The current lineup consists of Tommi on guitar, Sebastian Olsson on drums, Hans Foöhlich on bass and Arvid Hällagård on vocals. This four-piece dropped the LP “Hear The Rivers” in 2018, and that’s what I’m here to talk to you all about.
Greenleaf, and the album “Hear The Rivers”, are a lot more blues-centric/stoner rock than the other bands that I am recommending, which I believe would actually be a good introduction band to those who are curious about the genre. It has the signature fuzzy guitar driven songs, but the vocals are more clean, which is a different vocal approach from other a lot of doom metal bands. Greenleaf encompasses the groove of psychedelic rock but is still heavier than most generic psychedelic bands, therefore I find to be a nice mix betwen the two genres.
The first song I heard by this band had been “Let it out!” which is the first track off of the “Hear The Rivers” album. With this song, you immediately get enticed by the melodic beat of the drums and prepares you for the rest of the album; it’s catchy, it’s dulcet, but still heavy enough for you to headbang along too. Something that attracts me the most to the current lineup of Greenleaf is Arvid Hällagård’s voice, I actually appreciate how the band doesn’t distort his voice like most stoner-rock/doom metal bands. Arvid’s vocals shine through in songs like “A Point of a Secret” and “We Are The Pawns”.
What I enjoy most about Greenleaf, in particular, is how you can’t necessarily throw them into a genre box, there are some songs that definitely fall in the heavy-rock “blues” category, then the band throws in songs on their album that is a lot heavier and distorted than your average bluesy-stoner-rock song.
I could see Greenleaf hitting the commercial mainstream with their latest album “Hear The Rivers” , which I hope doesn’t come off snarky (because I know some artists get insulted by being ‘mainstream’), it’s just that I geniunely do believe that their music is the perfect amount of heavy for rock music stations all around North America to play. I’m curious to see where the band will go with their next album, with that being said, I am definitely a fan and I think a lot of you will be too.
Skraeckoedlan is a sci-fi inspired stoner metal band from Norrköping, Sweden. The band’s name derives the Swedish title track of the movie “The Beast from 20,000 fathoms”, Skräcködlan (Which appropriately translates to the “the dragon” or “the monster lizard”). Skraeckoedlan consists of Tim Ångström on bass, Martin Larsson on drums, Henrik “Hank the Tank” Grüttner on guitar & backing vocals, and Robert “Poncho MF” Lamu on guitar and main vocals.
Since 2009, the band has released 3 studio LP’s, as well as one EP and a live album (which, by the way, is a weakness of mine). The latest album is titled “Eorpe”, which means exactly what you’re thinking, Europe. However, the first song I heard by the band is actually off their debut album “Äppelträdet” (apple tree), and the song is called “Cactus”. The song is definitely a lot heavier than their latest record and carries the tone that overall attracts me to the stoner-rock/doom metal genre.
although Äppelträdet and Eorpe are different in heaviness, the former being heavier, I don’t think they are that different in tone and general vibe and I actually appreciate that they “stretched their legs” and tried something new with “Eorpe”. Both still carry the nice balance of heavy and rhythmic guitar that you can’t help but sway your whole body too.
Moreover, I really appreciate how the vast-majority (if not all) of Skraeckoedlan’s song are in Swedish. It geniuenly pleases me that there are only a handful of songs in their entire discography that have been sung in English. As a native English speaker, and someone from the “Western” countries, what I enjoy most about finding bands from other countries is learning the language and culture of the countries. I wish there were more stoner rock/doom metal bands that sang in their native language. It’s disheartening that bands feel that they have to sing in English in order for them to grow their audience when there are plenty more people (like me) who want to listen to bands singing in a language other than English. So, major kudos to Skraeckoedlan.
ps: please do not ever ask me to pronounce the band’s name out loud, at least not until I have made all my swedish friends send me clips of them teaching me how to say it (I really do wish I could pronounce it with sounding like a total yank).
Cities of Mars
Keeping the theme of cities going, Cities of Mars is a stoner/doom metal band from… you guessed it, Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden. Cities of Mars had been created in 2014, and in these five years, Danne Palm (Bass & vocals), Johan Kuchler (Drums & vocals) and Christoffer Norén (guitar & vocals) have released 2 studio LPs and 1 EP! A cool fact about the band Cities of Mars’ latest album “The Horologist” was recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by the drummer of Monolord, Esben Willems (thank you Jeremy, for this information).
Cities of Mars, much like Monolord, falls closer to the “doom metal” category with its notorious fuzzy guitars and more distorted vocals that I’ve come to recognize and admire. Doom Metal, unlike stoner metal/rock, emphasizes on the grittiness of it all and keeps the melodies as more of a “hidden gem”, an undertone if you must. “The Horologist” is definitely a great example of a solid “doom metal” album, as it is heavy as fuck, and if you listen closely you can hear the psychedelic rhythm that consumes your body without you even realizing. The first song I heard by this band is the opening track called “Necronograph”, which right off the bat gives the impression that it will be a heavy and more “classic” doom metal feel, as it opens with the distorted guitar that you know will carry you through, not only the song, but the album as well.
Out of all the bands I’ve mentioned thus far, I can say with full-confidence that Cities of Mars is the most “heavy”, and the most true to a specific genre. Unlike the others that balanced between the bluesy side of doom metal, Cities of Mars is straight up metal (*metal head voice*: fuckinn slaaaaaayer), so I would say they are definitely for more “intermediate” doom metal listeners. However, if you are like me, and live by the mantra of “the heavier the better”, you will instantly fall in love as I have. “The Horologist” is the kind of album that I would love to hear live, the tones of the bass throughout the record are absolutely fantastic which gives me the impression that hearing it live will not only be heavy as fuck, but also just needs to be played so loud that you not just hear the songs, but feel them.
Last, but certainly not least, we’re back at with a stoner rock band. Horisont, like two of the other bands on this list, is from Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden. Formed in 2006, Horisont is a 70s inspired stoner rock band that draws on their predecessors but with a sci-fi twist giving the listener a feeling of a “sonic trip”, as the band likes to call it.
The band: Axel Söderberg (vocals), Charles Van Loo (guitar), Magnus Delborg (bass), Pontus Jordan (drums) and recently added member David Kalin (guitar), have recorded 5 studio albums in the 13 years together (the last two with David). In 2017, the band dropped their fifth studio album “About Time” which happens to be the album that I have just stumbled upon. This 10 track record is soulful rock and roll album that encompasses some of the fuzzy guitar elements of stoner rock.
Paying homage to a lot of rock’n’roll icons, Horisont’s music truly transposes the listener back in time to some of the best days in music but doesn’t make the music sound or feel recycled. Horisont adds a distinctive touch that makes it their own, whether it be the howling vocals of Axel or the sci-fi feeling keys that you can hear significantly in songs like “The Hive” (which is actually the first song I heard by them) and “About Time”. Horisont is quite different from the band’s on this list, however, I felt the need to add them to this post because they are definitely worth checking out while on the topic of amazing stoner-rock-vibe Swedish bands.
honourable mentions: the band Graveyard, and Candlemass. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing both bands live, I saw Candlemass in Stockholm and wow, fucking amazing). As for Graveyard, I saw them last month in Vancouver which you can read about here. I wanted this post to be more about “underrated” Swedish bands, so I decided to leave them out of this recommendation; however, if you are new to swedish bands, you have to stop what you’re doing and check those two out, and then continue with my “list”.
As for the five that I’ve briefly discussed, I hope you all fall in love with these bands like I have, and I cannot wait to hear your thoughts on them!
Until next time Interwebs! 🕸
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