Kyuss: Demon Cleaner
Ah, the 90s. When jeans were baggy, guitars were loud and Billy Corgan still had a full head of hair. This track from that heady era is now considered a stoner rock staple – if not for the grooviest riff on that side of the Palm Desert Scene, then for laying the groundwork for Josh Hommes’ style in Queens Of The Stone Age.
Black Sabbath: Sweet Leaf
Decades before Demon Cleaner was released, thousands of miles away from the Californian sunshine, this English band designed the blueprint for heavy, bong-ripping music. The sputtering cough that opens the song, Tony Iommi’s immortal riff, Ozzy’s pleading cry, and the track name itself… this is the original stoner anthem.
Electric Wizard: Funeralopolis
This trio took its name from two Sabbath tunes (Electric Funeral and The Wizard), and it shows. Funeralopolis is easily the sludgiest, most colossal track the doom metal band ever recorded – hit “Play” and you’ll almost smell the waft of dank smoke issue through your speakers.
Bongripper: Endless / Descent / Into Ruin
They’re technically three separate songs that comprise Miserable, but they’re best consumed in a single hit. The instrumental band’s 2014 album is a doom metal opus that seems to span the entire stoner experience: from wicked highs to sluggish lethargy to the painful, unwelcome clarity of Into Ruin’s abrupt end.
Acid Mothers Temple: Dark Star Blues
It’s more psychedelic than stoner rock, but who’s keeping score, anyway? Led by the grizzled Makoto Kawabata, this Japanese institution have for the past two decades been unleashing acid-fuelled jam tracks that trace the outskirts of blues, free jazz, kosmische and classic rock. Turn this one way up.
Group Doueh & Cheveu: Tout Droit
Here’s another one from the psych end of the spectrum, a collaborative effort between the Parisian trio and arguably the best guitarist you’ve never heard of, Doueh. The Western Saharan musician and his family band have toured the world with their brand of folky ‘desert’ tunes, and Tout Droit offers a good, rock-centric – and stoner groove-laden – introduction to the genre.
Sleep: Marijuanaut’s Theme
On this day last year, Sleep stirred from their slumber to drop The Sciences. Metalhead stoners everywhere choked on their toke: the record arrived completely out of the blue, coming well over a decade after their previous full-length release, Dopesmoker. And it was well worth the wait – Matt Pike’s riffs never sounded more massive and urgent as they do on this cut.
If Matt Pike provides the brawn, then Al Cisneros brings the brains. The Sleep bassist’s other band, OM, may substitute brutal guitars for a subtler, smarter approach to stoner rock. Yes, the groove is still there. But there’s also so much more.
Sensations’ Fix: Barnhause Effect
This Italian prog band from the 70s would surely have been forgotten by history were it not for enterprising crate-diggers who put together the Music Is Painting In The Air compilation in 2012. Barnhause Effect is that comp’s opening track, setting the stage for the outfit’s genre-bending concoction that’s equal parts Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream and The 13th Floor Elevators.
Earth: Old Black
Nine minutes of merciless, pummelling guitars that manage to pull together Spaghetti Western, minimalism and psych rock without betraying Dylan Carlson’s metal and grunge roots. That he plays this on a Telecaster live makes it all the more impressive.
Check out our guide to the best metal guitars under $1,000 here.