The Debate Rages: What are the 10 Greatest Stoner Rock Records?

The reason I ask is this: I said a while back I wanted to start some hall-of-fame-esque series of posts covering the classics of the genre, going all the way back to the start. It was — I’ll be honest — an excuse to slather even more praise onto Master of Reality, which I don’t think ever has enough. That never quite materialized, but this whole time I was thinking to myself about what makes an album really great?

There’s so much context involved. When did it come out? What was happening at the time? Where is the band from? What was the response? How influential was it? What made it so special? Who was on it? What else did they do and how much of it was defined by this single album? Never mind questions about what counts as stoner rock and when that began — was it the ’90s or was it when Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil? — but what is it about an individual record that lets it stand the test of time, and is standing the test of time a basis for judgment of greatness? What about those albums you listened to when you were younger that sound dated now? Are they any less great because you’ve grown out of them?

So I’ve decided to open it up. Everything counts, everything’s in.

If you’ve got a list of 30 essentials or just one you want to add to the others, that’s cool. Let’s put everything out there and see what comes back, what we can agree on, disagree on, whatever. It’s all valid. If you think Welcome to Sky Valley is the best because it happens to be the album you listened to while you went trekking through the desert that one time, awesome. If you think it’s crap, pick something else.

In demographic research, they call it crowd-sourcing, but I’m not even sure what we’re crowd sourcing for, so let’s just have at it. The best of the best. What are the 10 greatest stoner rock records?

I’m looking forward to seeing your picks (and I think I already gave away two of mine). Leave a comment and let’s just have some fun with it.

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81 Responses to “The Debate Rages: What are the 10 Greatest Stoner Rock Records?”

  1. Pablo says:

    Los Natas – Ciudad de Brahman , Delmar
    RotoR – 2 & 3
    K2B – WWP & Almost Heathen
    Husky – The Sea King
    Tolmunud Mesipuu – Puusse Panen
    Treasure Cat – Choice Cuts
    Causa Sui – Summer sessions
    Melvins – Everything
    Atomic Bitchwax – Boxriff
    Kyuss – Everything

  2. Shawn Shupe says:

    Monster Magnet – Spine Of God
    Fu Manchu – In Search Of
    Kyuss – Sky Valley
    Dozer – In The Tail of A Comet
    35007 – Especially For You
    Mammoth Volume – Noara Dance
    QOTSA – Songs For The Deaf
    Brant Bjork – Jalamanta
    Josiah – S/T
    Lowrider – Ode To Io

  3. goAt says:

    The Stoner Rock issue of Decibel was TITS. Being an old fart (37 years-old) from the 90′s, their HOF picks jibe with me 90% of the time (Unsane, DOWN, Quicksand, etc.) The Hall of Fame piece they did on “Sky Valley” was pretty sweet (which was featured in a separate issue I think). Their “best-of” Stoner Rock list was spot on…the only one I didn’t have from the list was Acrimony. This was quickly remedied for a healthy sum…

    …what I’m trying to say is…we’re in for another Kyuss/Black Sabbath/Fu Manchu/Sleep/Electric Wizard appreciation society/circle jerk…and that’s fine with me! :)

  4. Recluse says:

    My picks (in no order):

    “Master of Reality” –Black Sabbath
    An obvious choice

    “Secret Treaties” –Blue Oyster Cult
    These guys are criminally overlooked nowadays –IMO their black and white albums are way trippier than anything the big three (Sabbath, Led Zep, Deep Purple) put out then

    “Sky Valley” –Kyuss
    Obvious

    “Stoner Witch” –Melvins
    Hard to pick just one Melvins album, but they should definitley be on any stoner top ten list somewhere; IMO this is their most consistent release

    “Holy Mountain” –Sleep
    No explanation needed

    “Down II” –Down
    Yeah, “Nola” is probably better than this one (maybe even “Down III” as well), but this was my introduction to the world of stoner rock, so this ismy sentimental pick

    “Spine of God” –Monster Magnet
    Not only was this one of the first stoner albums, it also seemingly had a major influence on the emerging heavy psych scene; its also a pretty damn good album to boot

    “Jug Fulla Sun” –Spirit Caravan
    ‘Cos Wino should be on any potential stoner top ten; plus this is a strikingly beautiful album, especially when listened to as the sun sets

    “Blast Tyrant” –Clutch
    Probably the best ‘traditional’ hard rock album of the past decade; Clutch rocks, it’s that simple

    “Tempel” –Colour Haze
    A great and original group that is having an ever growing influence on stoner and heavy psych; Its hard to pick an album by them (as with the Melvins), but this may be their most accesible, so I’ll go with it

  5. Matt Scherer says:

    In no particular order:
    Sleep – Holy Mountain
    Kyuss – Welcome To Sky Valley
    Colour Haze – Periscope
    Clutch – Self Titled
    Dozer – In The Tail Of A Comet
    Fu Manchu – The Action Is Go
    Orange Goblin – The Big Black
    Boris – Heavy Rocks (the first one)
    Melvins – Bullhead
    Bongzilla – Gateway

  6. Andy Samford says:

    Monster Magnet – Spine Of God
    Kyuss – Sky Valley
    Sleep – Holy Mountain
    Fu Manchu – In Search Of
    Nebula – To The Center
    Masters Of Reality – Welcome To The Western Lodge
    Bigelf – Closer To Doom
    Blue Cheer – Vincebus Eruptus
    The Obsessed – The Church Within
    Saint Vitus – Born Too Late
    Trouble – Manic Frustration
    Hawkwind – Space Ritual
    Sleep – Dopesmoker
    Black Sabbath – Volume IV
    Flower Travellin’ Band – Satori
    Graveyard – Hisingen Blues
    Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Blood Lust
    Sir Admiral Cloudesely Shovell – Don’t Hear It…Fear It!

  7. dave says:

    1- kyuss-welcome to sky valley
    2 Sleep – Dopesmoker
    3 electric wizard – come my fanatics
    4 Electric Wizard – Dopethrone
    5 Sleep – holy mountain
    6 acid king – III
    7 Buried Inside – Spoils of Failure
    8 fu manchu-in search of
    9 Graveyard – Hisingen Blues
    10 planks – funeral mouth

  8. Warp Lord says:

    I’m really excited about this topic and I enjoy the shit out of this blog about heavy music. I have to qualify off the bat that I like the old stuff, blues, jazz and mostly 60s and 70′s rock. This is just a list of tunes, not necessarily full albums but I’ll include albums too where I know them.

    Note: the numbers only indicate the order in which I have thought of these tunes, not their importance by a long shot. I’m specifically attempting to highlight the roots of what is today marketed as “stoner rock” or “stoner metal” and to emphasize the pedigree of this music as a continuation of an American musical tradition that stretches way further back than those crazy 1990s!

    Eight (only Eight because I need to sleep) Amazing “Stoner Tunes” List (all are 1960s or before):

    1) Muddy Waters – Champagne and Reefer

    Tune speaks for itself, if you never hear a blues tune again you must hear this. It’s passionate advocacy and gut bucket not-giving-a-fuck at the same time. If you haven’t already gotten a taste of blues, or think it’s that shit they play on the tele to help drug companies sell boner pills – it ain’t so. This tune will turn on the headbangin-est metal head.

    2) Muddy Waters – I Feel So Good (from the album Muddy Waters Sings Big Bill Broonzy)

    In this Big Bill Broonzy cover, one of Waters’ first tunes cut with Chicago’s Chess label, he lays back on the last verse singing: “Love my tea/crazy ’bout my garden gin/When I get high I feel like floatin’ round in the wind.” (You know what, after all these years, if you attempt to look up the lyrics to this song, the last verse is mysteriously left out…)

    The interaction between performers on this cut is top notch – Muddy is in his prime and so is the band. This song features a superb example of blues harmonica – very worth another listen to hear harmonica, then piano. Shows that hardness can come through, even a tune in a major key. It feels good too!

    3) Cab Calloway and his Orchestra – Reefer Man

    Self explanatory to us, but at the time Calloway’s hot jazz orchestra performed this at the Cotton Club, “reefer’s” meaning wasn’t known to the general public. I suspect the hipsters hearing this 1930s zoot suited master scat singer shouting choruses with conked hair in his face wildly waiving a conductors baton knew exactly what it meant.

    I wholeheartedly think what was termed “hot jazz” in the 20s and 30s can be claimed by fans of heavy music today. Why not? Those jazz cats laid out the foundation of the music industry on the one hand and on the other some of them partied as hard as any rocker ever did – some to their (and our) eternal detriment. Even today, we hear rock people speak of “swinging” a riff….it’s not so different. Jazz is like Latin – a parent language – a little bit of it is inherited in everything that follows.

    4) Ray Charles – Let’s Go Get Stoned

    Just listen to it, on repeat if you are having one of those days.

    5) Cream – Deserted Cities of the Heart (from Live Cream vol. II)

    This song melted my face off when I first heard it in the 1990′s after getting it from a mail order CD catalog. So everybody here likes Ozzy and Sabbath right? Who was the model for Sabbath? Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. This tune has it all, heavy power chords, riffs galore and balls to the wall jamming. I think you can clearly hear the influence on Sabbath (especially the s/t album) with this tune but *more* on the next one in terms of vocals…

    6) Cream – Spoonful (from the album Wheels of Fire)

    This Howlin’ Wolf cover is a masterpiece of interactive rock improvisation. If you like dirgy blues based rock jams that don’t bore you to death and burn with intensity, look no further. Occasionally Bruce will play “out” or dissonant when he gets a little bored of where Clapton might be going, or just cause he felt like it.

    In 1968, few could play at the technical level these guys did. They were called “The Cream” for a reason, the best rock instrumentalists in England…till James Marshall Hendrix arrived anyway. Burn one and put it on that’s all I’m sayin’. Shit, the whole second disc of Wheels of Fire is enough to set the tone for Sabbath and Zeppelin and a whole host of imitators. “Toad” was the precursor to every rock drummer who wanted to take extended solos, also has a killer riff intro and outro. This was in the day when heavy music was called, rightly, “Acid Rock.”

    7) Jimi Hendrix – Pali Gap

    What can I say, this late period Hendrix piece is enough to make anyone a believer, which you should be already if you like heavy rock. The dude was a huge part of inventing it and his long shadow is still felt among stoner rock brethren today, like the boys from Atomic Bitchwax, for example. Pali Gap has a laid back groove with multiple guitar tracks but the pure blues power of Jimi’s virtuosic playing just slices through.

    This tune can take you to another world if you let it and shows what doom fans already well know, a slower groove, even if it isn’t “loud” in the metal sense (because this tune isn’t really “metal”) can still be called “heavy.” If you have just finished giving this song your undivided attention for the first time (stoned or not) I don’t think you would disagree. Shit is deep.

    8) Howlin’ Wolf – How Many More Years (from the Album “Moanin’ in the Moonlight”)

    This song is credited with being the first recorded use of an electric guitar power chord with distortion. Fuzzheads take note, the Wolf truly launched a thousand hard rock bands in the 60s and 70s. A legend in his own time, Chester Burnett sang with a conviction and vocal prowess that cannot be understated, but only appreciated by successive generations. Wolf’s music must be taken into account by “heavy” music fans. Take a listen and you can run a thread from Wolf to Acid Rock to Stoner Metal, very few degrees of separation there.

    This tune was inspiration for “How Many More Times” (and other Wolf tunes were liberally ripped off and uncredited in other Zep tunes.) The tradition of stoner/hard rock acts covering Howlin’ Wolf tunes is long and venerable. A couple notables in addition to the aforementioned “Spoonful” — Cactus does “Evil” in the early 70s and then later that same arrangement shows up on the first (perhaps best?) Monster Magnet album Spine of God ca. 1992. Sound Garden gets honorable mention for a decent cover of “Smokestack Lightning” in the 80s before their breakout success in the mid 90s. All of these covers are on the Moanin’ in the Moonlight record.

    8) Blind Willie Johnson – I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’

    This blind country blues preacher-with-a-guitar will sing the most uplifting tune in the most gravelly voice you have ever heard, Sometimes in a straight up “feelin’ lonesome” blues his voice is strangely comforting. In either case, the voice of critical darling Tom Waits can be traced back to this singer and beside him Waits sounds to me a rank amateur. Just about any tune by Blind Willie Johnson I could have chosen. Some of you will recognize influences for Clutch lyrics in “John the Revelator” and a few other tunes. (That reminds me, in at least one tune, Neil Fallon, “howls” in a Wolfish fashion, can’t remember the title now because it’s getting past my bedtime and I’m only on number 8.)

  9. Martin says:

    The albums that turned my taste in music to what it is now are:
    Sky Valley, Gravity X by Truckfighters, The Action Is Go by Fu Manchu and QOTSAs s/t. Those four albums define me and will therefore be on my list. As for the other six, i have no idea.

  10. Maddes says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to see through my records, this was a lot of fun and awesome memories came back to the surface, this is why those ten rock my world:

    Sienna Root – Kaleidoscope
    Stone Axe – Stone Axe
    Truckfighters – Gravity X
    Colour Haze – Colour Haze
    Greenleaf – Agents of Ahriman
    Sungrazer – Mirador
    Karma zo Burn – Wild wonderful purgatory
    Kyuss – Welcom to sky valley
    Che – Sound of Liberation
    Brain Police – Beyond the wasteland

  11. mick matthews says:

    No. 1 has got to be Blues For A Red Sun. Without that there would’nt be a genre called Stoner Rock.

  12. Fastnbulbous says:

    Colour Haze – All (Elektrohasch) 08
    Electric Wizard – Dopethrone (Rise Above/Candlelight) 00
    Kyuss – Blues For The Red Sun (Dali/Elektra) 92
    Ufomammut – Eve (Supernatural Cat) 10
    Acrimony – Tumuli Shroomaroom (Leaf Hound) 96
    Kyuss – Welcome To Sky Valley (Elektra) 94
    Sleep – Dopesmoker (Tee Pee/Southern Lord) 95
    Graveyard – Hisingen Blues (Nuclear Assault) 11
    Colour Haze – Tempel (Elektrohasch) 06
    Witchcraft – The Alchemist (Rise Above) 07

    Am enjoying all the entries. Even the ones kind of missing the point (songs ABOUT getting stoned ha ha) are cool because it’s all good music!

  13. Sebastian says:

    In random order:

    1. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
    2. Kyuss – Blues For The Red Sun
    3. Electric Wizard – Come My Fanatics
    4. Monster Magnet – Dopes to Infinity
    5. Orange Goblin – Time Travelling Blues
    6. Blind Dog – The Last Adventures of Captain Dog
    7. Sleep – Sleep’s Holy Mountain
    8. Karma To Burn – Wild Wonderful Purgatory
    9. Acrimony – Tumuli Shroomaroom
    10. QOTSA – Rated R

  14. Rob ZZZZZZZZZZ says:

    may be stretching the genre a bit but here goes (in order only by when they hit me over the head)
    Sabbath – s/t
    Alice In Chains – Facelift
    Soundgarden – Screaming Life
    Tool – Undertow
    Pantera – Vulgar…
    Down – NOLA
    Clutch – s/t
    QOTSA – Rated R
    Nebula – Charged (my first nebulonic experience so thats what I’m going with)
    Red Giant – Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound
    Witchcraft – s/t
    Witch – s/t
    Baroness – red
    Pentagram – First Daze Here
    Graveyard – s/t
    Iota – Tales
    Snail – Blood
    and yeh, Kyuss should definitely be in there too

  15. Zach says:

    ELDER- DEAD ROOTS STIRRING

    DOWN (All)

    The Sword- Gods of the Earth

    Kyuss- ..Sky Valley

    Black Sabbath- Master..

    Dopethrone

  16. Maik says:

    Okay, I’ll try ten, but not in any particular order.

    Amplifier – Amplifier
    Kyuss – (Welcome To) Sky Valley
    Fu Manchu – California Crossing
    Corrosion Of Conformity – Deliverance
    Clutch – The Elephant Riders
    Solace – A.D.
    Diesto – High As The Sun
    Sleep – Sleep’s Holy Mountain
    The Obsessed – The Church Within
    Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf

    I guess a lot of this stuff is pretty mainstream, but these are all records I’ve heard dozens of times during the last ten years.

  17. Jordi says:

    I don’t think that we can come to a realistic top ten on stoner rock, however, I think that we can all come to the conclusion that albums like Master of Reality, Sky Valley and Holy Mountain shaped the genre, and thus, they could be considered the “best”.

    IMO Sky Valley and Holy Mountain are the bibles of stoner, that simple.

  18. Jordi says:

    And I think it’s awesome people are talking about ELDER, that band right there is the living and breathing proof that young people from generations past Sleep and Kyuss can make insanely awesome music. If you’re not convinced, check out Dead Roots Stirring, a fucking masterpiece.

  19. Wanted to add my list to the bunch as well. In no order after the first:

    Black Sabbath, Master of Reality
    Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley
    Monster Magnet, Spine of God
    Colour Haze, Tempel
    Natas, Delmar
    Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain
    Greenleaf, Agents of Ahriman
    Clutch, Clutch
    QOTSA, QOTSA
    Spirit Caravan, Jug Fulla Sun

  20. MadHamish says:

    Impossible task. And yet:
    Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
    Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality
    Black Sabbath – Vol. 4
    Kyuss – Blues for the Red Sun
    Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
    Monster Magnet – Dopes to Infinity
    Clutch – Clutch
    Asteroid – EP (as a matter of fact – every single song by this band is a fav)
    Sleep – Holy Mountain
    Electric Wizard – Dopesmoker

    And shitload more…

  21. MadHamish says:

    dafuck… I meant “Dopethrone” up there. Damn Sleep – cannot stop listening to them lately and here’s what happened :)

  22. scott says:

    Well……. I have been following this thread and it is interesting but I have watched this scene since the onset and the term “stoner rock” really did not appear until the 90s and many would agree that Kyuss was one of the first bands that some how got associated with this term so I don’t think anyone should put records before this period. Stoner rock for me is music that is heavy, black sabbath inspired but with a groove. An addictive groove, a stoned groove, that you can really attach yourself to and let the song take you away.. it is not just about being heavy or psychedelic. Dozer, Fu Manchu, Los natas, Sleep, ….. they all have this kind of groove to their stuff..

    Gas Giant- Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes
    Kyuss- Welcome to Sky Valley
    Sons of Otis- spacejumbofudge
    Spirit Caravan- Jug full o Sun
    Astrosoniq- made in OSS
    Causa Sui- Free Ride
    Fu Manchu- In Search of….
    Colour Haze- Los sounds de Krauts
    Dozer- Madre de Dios
    WE/Gas Giant- Riding the red horse to the Last Stronghold of the Freaks
    WE- Dinosauric Futurobic
    On Trial- 70 kilometers of underwater Nothingness, Kaptain

    Something like that…. it is hard.. so many great records and still the scene is doing well today….

  23. Old Uncle Wizard says:

    Considering the depth of the genre a top ten barely scratches the surface, the 70′s foundation needs a top ten in itself as does the 90′s evolution and the millennium explosion …i’ve decided to keep it simple, there was a period of time when the moniker had it’s innocence, and the long haired and bearded drank beer and smoked weed to a few notable classics \m/

    In no particular order

    Electric Wizard – Come My Fanatics

    Kyuss – Welcome To Sky Valley

    Fu Manchu – In Search Of…

    Church Of Misery – Master Of Brutality

    Sleep – Holy Mountain

    Orange Goblin – The Big Black

    Warhorse – As Heavens Turn To Ash

    Clutch – Pure Rock Fury

    Goatsnake – Flower Of Disease

  24. Voodrew says:

    Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
    Black Sabbath – Master Reality
    Red Fang – Murder the Mountains
    QOTSA – QOTSA
    Sasquatch II
    Black Sabbath – Paranoid
    Witchcraft – The Legend
    Torche – Meanderthal
    Sword – Gods of Earth
    Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

  25. romefalls says:

    Black Sabbath (s/t)
    Paranoid
    Master Of Reality
    Vol 4
    Live At Last
    Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
    Sabotage
    We Sold Our Soul For Rock N Roll (for the uninitiated)
    “All Moving Parts Stand Still” and “You Won’t Change Me” from Technical Ecstasy – the rest can be thrown out
    Heaven And Hell
    Mob Rules
    “Disturbing The Priest” and “Born Again” from Born Again

  26. j.d. says:

    Los Natas : Ciudad de Brahaman / Delmar .

  27. PabloS says:

    1.Electric Wizard-Dopethrone
    2.Graveyard-self titled
    3. Big Business-Head for shallow
    4. Blue Cheer- Vincebus Eruptum
    5 Corrosion Of Conformity- Deliverance
    6. Dozer- call it conspiracy
    7. Witchcraft- Firewood
    8. Hot Lunch- self titled
    9. Kadavar- Self titled
    10. Pentagram- Last daze here
    11. Eyehategod- Take as needed for pain
    12. Kyuss- Blues for the red sun

  28. kraftwerkd says:

    Jesus, this is gonna be tough. I mean besides the Sab, who I had been listening to before I even knew of this stoner rock thing ten years ago, I’ll just post the ones I heard that were the most life changing.

    1. Clutch – Clutch/Blast Tyrant (hard to pick)
    2. Sleep – Dopesmoker
    3. Electric Wizard – Dopethrone
    4. Bongzilla – Gateway
    5. Kyuss – Welcome To Sky Valley
    6. Colour Haze – Colour Haze
    7. Fu Manchu – In Search Of…
    8. Monster Magnet – Spine Of God
    9. Orange Goblin – Time Traveling Blues
    10. Corrosion Of Conformity – Deliverance

  29. Paulo Navarro says:

    Black Sabbath – Master of reality
    Kyuss – welcome to the sky valley
    Hermano – Only a suggestion
    Solace – 13
    Unida – Coping with the urban coyote
    Los Natas – Corsario Negro
    Sleep – Dopesmoker
    Earthless – Rhythms from a cosmic sky
    Eternal Elysium – Spiritualized D
    Yob – Atma
    Melvins – Houdini
    … unfinished listtttttttttttttttt…

  30. barney rumble says:

    the machine – solar corona !!

    the machine – shadow of the machine

    sungrazer – mirador

    kadavar / aqua nebula oscillator split ep

    clutch – blast tyrant

    kyuss – sky valley

    kyuss – blues for the red sun

    lonely kamel – selftitled

    egocentrics – Love Fear Choices and Astronauts

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