Stoner Rock Is Not “Doom Metal”

Earlier this year, independent music distribution platform Bandcamp claimed that many stoner rock bands are in fact doom metal. This is a common logical fallacy based around associating the pace and instrumental tone of the music with actual musical content. The stoner “doom” trend of bands that started in the late 90s and early 2000s and has continued non-stop right up until the present almost twenty years later was one of the earliest hipster attempts to assimilate heavy metal before the waves of speed, death, and now black metal aesthetics rehashed into pop rock for the safe space generation.

Hipsters want everything watered down into easily digestible music that could be played on the radio or that softly in the backgrounds to socialize with other politically-correct, ideologues chanting verses from their ersatz red bibles of Marx and Mao. Pretending that late 60s and early 70s acid and garage rock was doom metal starting in the late 90s was a fallacy that record labels were all too eager to fall into in order to increase their customer base and sell “metal” as a lifestyle to idiots in service industry jobs. Now Bandcamp and Lee Dorian‘s Rise Above Records are continuing this trend. Stoner doom rock is yet another trend like whiny rap-rock masquerading as “nu-metal”, death ‘n’ roll grunge with growls, and Gothenburg metalcore. The music is not riff based and the riffs are not melodic phrases to be arranged into a narrative. Rather stoner rock bands play straight up hard rock slowed down for idiots and drug addicts; not even background rock for speeding down the highway or playing ping-pong like Led Zeppelin.

None of these newer acts belong to the metal genre of music as created by Black Sabbath, nor imitate the later Sabbath worshiping “doom metal” bands like Witchfinder General and Cathedral. Pentagram is about as metal as Blue Cheer; id est not at all. The Obsessed are The Ramones on Valium. Orange Goblin are a generic 90s MTV rock band. The Sword play honky tonk butt rock like Deep Purple crossed with Ted Nugent. Pallbearer are slowed down indie whine rock singalongs like a slower Nirvana song if Nirvana were less interested in drugs and more into staring at bar patrons’ crotch bulges. I can’t bear to listen to this stinking shit for any longer.

The only bands on Bandcamp’s shitty list that are actually metal and not worth running over repeatedly with a tracker trailer until they are two-dimensional skid marks are Saint Vitus and Candlemass, both of whom have benefited from the stoner doom boom but are Black Sabbath as covered by a Motorhead loving punk band and traditional heavy metal respectively. Everyone else can fuck off and die in a horrific automobile accident. Metal is not equal opportunity; metal is elitist.

26 thoughts on “Stoner Rock Is Not “Doom Metal””

  1. Bruce Dick In Son says:

    Spot on, total support!

    1. At Bill's Gates says:

      NOT spot on, partially correct, but you slept on Pallbearer’s 1st LP, “Sorrow ‘n Extinction”. It was filled with great phrasal narrative DOOM with vokillz like Ozzy.

  2. Marc Defranco says:

    I agree all stoner metal or whatever is shit. The most recent doom metal album I would consider great is Scald – Will of Gods is a Great power

  3. Rainer Weikusat says:

    There’s exactly one thing Led Zeppelin is good for: A “How fast can you switch this off if it suddenly starts playing at the other end of the room?” competition.

    Some simple music for speeding down something:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOtkvc_lNhA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj716pc1fC0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF5-AxyoA4w

  4. Anon. says:

    Sleep is definitely metal.

    1. Rainer Weikusat says:

      They’re more a clone of a 1970s underground band than a clone of a 1970s “commercially-oriented hardrock band”, IOW, they’re less total shit than the others I sampled. But that’s nevertheless “mind-numbing droning” (a drone is an single-note or single-chord ostinato). But compare this with Candlemass which absolutely blew my mind when I encountered it for the first time — no fucking way.

      Rule of thumb: “Getting stoned” usually involves shifting one’s preferences from metal to – well – stoner rock.

      1. Anon. says:

        Did you try Sleep’s Holy Mountain? That’s the one. Dopesmoker definitely gets too carried away with itself.

        1. Syphilis says:

          Holy Mountain is great Sabbath/heavy blues worship, without becoming just another second-rate copy of the former. Jerusalem/Dopesmoker along with Earth is just a more competent version of what later drone bands tried to achieve. There’s some quality output from Kyuss, Electric Wizard and perhaps a few other bands of the like.

        2. Scum Filter says:

          I think Holy Mountain is already too far up the stoner slope. Their Volume 1 album has more of a doomy dirge style reminiscent of what most sludge bands sought to achieve, but without the whole desperately trying to cop some dope vibe to it…

  5. Seth says:

    A similar thing could be said of most self-declared funeral doom bands i.e. Slowed down goth rock with a focus on romanticizing self-pity as opposed to anything transcendental. Easy to tell the difference as values in lyrical content mirror the structural profundity of the music itself. i.e. only Thergothon and Skepticism are the only bands that really fit the bill both in terms of structure/lyrical content as well as being of enduring quality.

    1. Syphilis says:

      There’s also the general consensus that all Christian metal is garbage, yet there are bands such as Trouble and Paramæcium.

      1. Incestual Ballerism says:

        And Stryper, their ’87 LP ‘To Hell with the Devil’ is dope.

    2. aol instant messenger says:

      who says metal needs to be about the transcendental? (other than brett/prozac)

  6. GGALLIN1776 says:

    Just inject the slow bands with megadoses of adderall & salvia divinorum. Hyper-violent visions ensue.

  7. PAGAN ALTAR says:

    Is PAGAN ALTAR from the UK, a stoner or a doom metal band?

    Pagan Altar- Judgement Of The Dead 1982
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYWaK0c6JR0

    1. aol instant messenger says:

      they’re a metal band but inseparably connected to rock n roll, like (spoiler) all NWOBHM

    2. The Sleeping Tyrant says:

      Nah, they’re just a NWOBHM band that sticks to the slower side of mid-tempo most of the time.

  8. M says:

    Hey, old-time, I guess, doom metal fan here, and my first comment after lurking for some time.

    Where do bands such as Church of Misery (“fuck the weak stoner bullshit” etc.) fit into this “analysis”?

    Whatever you think of Rev Biz, they were pretty much on the money to declare “doom metal is dead” on their last album, if not contributing toward its death. All the great 3rd wave bands (Solstice, Gates of Slumber, et al.), though still often going in some form or another, pretty much tanked after that.

    Cheers,

    M

    1. aol instant messenger says:

      church of misery are basically edgy hardcore punk dudes who play with slow metal riffs, which makes them sludge

      that stuff gets derided as hipster music here, but like a lot of Japanese bands I don’t think they fit into that western paradigm (not in a weebish way, I just mean they arrived at their sound in a different way, through different social strata etc)

      1. Syphilis says:

        The influence of Jap bands are really understated around here. The majority of metal is perhaps underwhelming, but japcore influenced quite a lot of the “big names”. Napalm Death got their sound from S.O.B, G.I.S.M was one of the first to straight up fuse metal with hardcore, etc.

  9. M says:

    Partly because of the ascendance of stoner hipster rockism, might I add.

  10. aol instant messenger says:

    >Pentagram not metal

    Oh come on. Yeah, calling Blue Cheer metal is a stretch at best and hipster contrarianism at worst, but what are _Pentagram_ missing that makes them “not metal”? they had the metaphysical good/evil angle, focus on horrors of society, the post-hippie cynicism, the sinister chromatic riffs, etc. For every song you could cite that has vestiges of regular ol’ 70s rawk I could find 10 in Sabbath’s discography.

    Pentagram certainly aren’t stoner rock, a marketing buzzword that mainly refers to 90s bands with 420 culture lyrics and “good vibes”.

    1. aol instant messenger says:

      I’ll add: just like Saint Vitus, they’re a good band who were appropriated by hipsters when that Southern Lord shit started blowing up in the 00s.

  11. Dr. Khan says:

    Esoteric is the doomiest doom band and if you don’t like them you are fat homo.

  12. Max Wiecek says:

    In regards to what you have to say about The Sword… how are they even remotely close to Ted Nugent and Deep Purple? Maybe now with their new direction (like what most bands do). But you’re out of your mind if you don’t think “Gods of The Earth,” “Age of Winters,” and “Warp Riders” aren’t heavy as fuck. Those dudes define heavy metal in it’s most pure form. You’re kind of overlooking that. Anyone who knows The Sword knows they aren’t really doom or stoner rock in the true sense. So…. just take it easy bud.

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