Review & Track Premiere: Stöner, Boogie to Baja EP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 30th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Stoner boogie to baja

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Stöner’s ‘Night Tripper vs. No Brainer.’ Their Boogie to Baja EP is out Feb. 24 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

Stöner make the most of their opportunity to efficiently hammer the point home. Jam. Punk. Jam. Punk. Jam. Their Boogie to Baja EP, comprised of songs recorded during the sessions for their second album, 2022’s Totally… (review here) — and like that full-length, produced by Yosef Sanborn — runs five tracks/26 minutes and follows precisely that pattern, taking the mellow roll of its beginning with “Stöner Theme (Baja Version)” and using its sub-three minutes as a setup for the back and forth to come, a short, flowing, easy nod that calls to mind some of the earlier solo work of guitarist/vocalist Brant Bjork but boasts a guest guitar solo from Fatso Jetson‘s Mario Lalli — who was also on some of that earlier work, come to think of it; it’s nice to have friends — and an almost immediate hypnotic effect that, if you’re not careful, can carry right into the subsequent kick of “City Kids.”

They hold out that last note, there’s a weirdo twang strum to end like there was at the start, and then soon the push of “City Kids” starts, with Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks sitting in with Bjork, bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri and drummer Ryan Güt, whose collective pedigree as a three-piece has been a big part of the story to-date of Stöner, but is only actually part of it in reality as the band has come to summarize so much about what particularly Oliveri and Bjork have done in bands like KyussFu ManchuQueens of the Stone Age, the various band incarnations of Brant BjorkMondo Generator, and so on; forming a kind of encompassing desert rock that, for being what it is made by who made it, remains grippingly unpretentious, holding to a dudes-in-a-room sensibility rather than trying to make some grand statement of genre or style. That is to say, as much as these guys have contributed to what desert rock has become over the last three decades, Stöner‘s mission isn’t so much to celebrate past accomplishments as find a way around them to still enjoy writing and playing music together without that baggage.

Does it work? Most of the time, yeah. BjorkOliveri and Güt have worked quickly over the last couple years to give the band a personality of its own, from the remember-when-we-was-punks sans-frills fuzz of their 2021 debut, Stoners Rule (review here), to the takeoff solo in “Night Tripper vs. No Brainer” here. The band’s persona, defined by the presences of Oliveri and Bjork — though I’ve said before and I’ll say again that Güt is essential personnel on drums, and he proves that again on Boogie to Baja — has begun to draw the two sides together at times, creating a more dynamic sound rather than one split along the lines of who came up with each individual part, song, etc.

“Stöner Theme (Baja Version)” is short compared to the other two jam-minded pieces here, but it serves an important function in making it a less drastic turn when “Night Tripper vs. No Brainer” picks up from “City Kids” — a cover of Pink Fairies‘ more than the 1979 Motörhead version, which pluralized the lyrics with “us” instead of “me”; the original came out in 1973 but you can hear its roots in ’60s garage rock and Stöner play into that well — with its sliding groove and plenty of space for solos to be peppered in with the bluesy call and response verses from Bjork and Oliveri, which sound spontaneous but have an underlying plot just the same, however wide around it they’re willing to work. In that way, “Stöner Theme (Baja Version)” is the key to the whole release, setting the vibe where and when vibe most matters. Without it, Boogie to Baja would feel disjointed and in competition with itself. It is the Ryan Güt of EP intros, if that helps as a way to think about it. Draws it all together, makes it groove, helps it make sense, doesn’t do too much to or too little but is in just the right spot when it needs to be. Fair enough.


Side B’s “It Ain’t Free” and “Boogie to Baja” function with a similar punch to “City Kids” and “Night Tripper vs. No Brainer,” but ups the stakes. Stripped to its distorted core, “It Ain’t Free” — which resolves in a declaration that, “Grass, gas or ass, no one rides for free” in the band — sprints in ’80s skate-punk fashion, Bjork and Oliveri barking out the verses, living to ride and riding to live, and keeping their forward momentum even as they shift into the solo-topped bridge before turning back to the verse. Maybe there’s some nostalgia there as well, but that’s well suited to the scope and purpose of the band, true to meaner sounds than some of the Ramones-y punk they’ve wrought to this point but still ultimately a fit. And at 10 minutes, “Boogie to Baja” completes the pattern with howling leads over dug-in bass and drums, locking tight at around nine seconds in and not losing its course for the duration, an exciting and improvised-sounding stretch that might not have worked on Stoners Rule but makes an almost perfect — particularly for how un-perfect it is — destination for the EP that shares its name.

Culminating with a wash of noise, fuzzy solo cutting through, the drums ever-steady within that fray, it emphasizes the human aspect of its creation, the conversation happening between players within the song, and whether one is familiar with these players’ respective backgrounds or not, the chemistry they’ve honed in this band over just the last two-plus years between touring and studio recordings is readily on display. They each seem to know where the other is and is headed, and even when “Boogie to Baja” falls apart at the finish as it inevitably must, it does so in a way that makes sense considering that at some point while the jam was being tracked they probably realized they were getting something usable out of it.

Not everybody is going to get Boogie to Baja or Stöner more generally, and if you approach it with the perspective of looking for another Kyuss or some other grand expectation based on their respective discographies, you’re missing the point. Stöner aren’t trying to reinvent desert rock. They’re trying to hang out and play, not exactly like when they were teenagers but maybe with the same kind of sense of adventure in terms of trying out ideas, taking sounds that excite them and transposing them onto their own material. I’d argue they’ve been mostly successful in this up to and through this point, but rather than the roots of each player, the most exciting part of Stöner is the whole band’s own emerging dynamic, the personality they’re defining for themselves as a group. Even in what might be called an assemblage of leftovers, they’re telling that story as it happens, and it’s a thrill to hear, even if the overarching message of the songs is “chill the fuck out and listen.” No argument.

Stöner, Boogie to Baja (2023)

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2022 — Year in Review

Posted in Features on December 21st, 2022 by JJ Koczan


[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your picks yet, please do so here.]

I believe we are in the midst of a generational turnover among artists and bands. Some have reshuffled as a result of either the pandemic or a basic desire to explore new creative reaches, and some are just plain younger, finding their way into a heavy underground that now has the fanbase ecosystem to support their work. The last couple years have not been easy for anyone, but this wouldn’t be the first instance of hard times making for good art.

The music that will define this decade is being made now. Fresh perspectives and new ideas have broadened the definitions of what makes a sound heavy, and while the change can feel and has felt excruciatingly slow, rock and roll has grown more diverse, much to its benefit. The boundaries between microgenres have become ever more porous, resulting in a vibrant shifting of styles and breadth that, even when playing directly to familiar ideals, is evolution at work. As/if you make your way through the lists below, consider the veteran acts and newcomers, young and old, how many debuts and sophomore albums and how many bands on their fifth, sixth, seventh, etc. Not that there’s nothing between, but the divide feels stark.

As war returned to Eastern Europe and the American political system teetered worryingly toward collapse, music was both respite and reportage, escape, therapy and critique marked by a blanket expressive urgency, no matter which side of which argument one was on. The ‘return’ of touring and live shows was a boon for escapists and celebrants, and one found new appreciation for the simple act of gathering. Some of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever seen on a stage happened in 2022.

In this spirit, I ask as I do every year to please, if you comment on this post in either agreement or disagreement, please, please keep it civil. For both my own sensitivities — yes, I take it personally — and those of anyone else reading. I thank you for reading, and if you feel compelled to respond, thank you for that too. I’m a human being. You’re a human being. Let’s just be nice. That’s all.

Okay. Deep breath in… and plunge:

The Top 60 Albums of 2022

Maybe you think a Top 60 is ridiculous. Fair. Too much? Okay. Anything else? No? Then let’s roll.

Precedent for this was set last year, and I found the trouble this time was not only sorting it by number — once you pass a certain point it’s more about including the names than the actual ordering, I’ll admit — but actually keeping it to 60. Believe it or not, these are packed in, and there were more than a handful of others I was heartbroken to have to leave out of the numbered list.

Here goes:

31. Ecstatic Vision, Elusive Mojo
32. Josiah, We Lay on Cold Stone
33. C.Ross, Skull Creator
34. Samavayo, Pāyān
35. Abronia, Map of Dawn
36. CB3, Exploration
37. Brant Bjork, Bougainvillea Suite
38. Valley of the Sun, The Chariot
39. Mos Generator, Time//Wounds
40. Edena Gardens, Edena Gardens
41. Cities of Mars, Cities of Mars
42. Dreadnought, The Endless
43. Clutch, Sunrise on Slaughter Beach
44. Tau and the Drones of Praise, Misneach
45. Nebula, Transmission From Mothership Earth
46. Birth, Born
47. Ufomammut, Fenice
48. Supersonic Blues, It’s Heavy
49. Naxatras, IV
50. Come to Grief, When the World Dies
51. Toad Venom, EAT!
52. Earthless, Night Parade of 100 Demons
53. Hazemaze, Blinded by the Wicked
54. Experiencia Tibetana, Vol. II
55. Les Nadie, Destierro y Siembra
56. MWWB, The Harvest
57. Obiat, Indian Ocean
58. Messa, Close
59. JIRM, The Tunnel, the Well, Holy Bedlam
60. Somali Yacht Club, The Space


Some killer records. And not just things to be appreciated critically, either, but stuff I actually listened to a fair bit. Cities of Mars, Obiat, Tau and the Drones of Praise, Brant Bjork’s always a go-to. Seeing Ecstatic Vision and Josiah next to each other makes me want to book a UK tour for them together. And then you get into the gleeful acid fuckall of Nebula, Naxatras’ full-on-prog-rock pivot, Clutch being Clutch, Supersonic Blues’ right on debut — finally! — and Obiat’s first record in 13 years. Dreadnought and Edena Gardens and JIRM and CB3, Abronia. There isn’t a clunker in the bunch.

Don’t ignore this list, please, and please don’t think that because something’s not in the top 30 with the cover art right there I don’t think you should check it out. If that was the case, I’d cap the list at 30. There’s genuine treasure here to be found, and it’s my sincere hope you’ll take the time to find it.



Released by We Are Busy Bodies. Reviewed Oct. 20.

My only hope is it wasn’t a one-off that Jason Haberman (Yeahsun), Ian Blurton (Ian Blurton’s Future Now, etc.), and Jay Anderson (Lammping) came together to form this classic psychedelic soul project. With guest vocalists, the six songs on this self-titled debut ranged from flowing extended jams to tight acid disco pop, as memorable as they were righteous. Sleeper hit.

29. River Flows Reverse, The Homing Bird’s Trace


Released by Psychedelic Source Records. Reviewed Nov. 14.

By no means the only cause to rejoice to emerge over the last few years from Hungary’s Psychedelic Source Records collective, River Flows Reverse‘s second offering brings a crafted focus on organic, natural-world psychedelia that results in an affecting beauty and warmth all its own. It is the acid folk of another world; varied in instrumentation, exploratory, welcoming and wonderfully serene.

28. Freedom Hawk, Take All You Can

Freedom Hawk take all you can 1

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed July 25.

Long-since proven as songwriters, Virginia Beach’s Freedom Hawk one-upped themselves again with their sixth album. It was an effective summary of what has made the band so crucial and so largely undervalued during their time, bringing together elements from classic metal, classic heavy rock, desert riffing, and even some flourish of psychedelia in a DIY recording that told us we all need rock and roll and went on to demonstrate why.

27. Lamp of the Universe, The Akashic Field

Lamp of the Universe The Akashic Field
Released through Headspin Records & Astral Projection. Reviewed Jan. 10.

I’ll gladly cop to being a sucker for the long-running lysergic solo-project of Hamilton, New Zealand’s Craig Williamson (ex-Arc of Ascent, ex-Datura), and as he makes ready to unveil the more riff-heavy, still-solo band incarnation Dead Shrine in 2023 (info here), this offering from Lamp of the Universe pushed through a transitional spirit as though he was passing a torch… to himself. More than 20 years on, this project still evolves, can still surprise.

26. -(16)-, Into Dust

16 into dust

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

A beautiful bludgeoning. Metallic in its aggression, hardcore in its soul and sludged to its monstrously-proportioned gills, the latest from Los Angeles’ 16 felt tighter in its songwriting and meaner even than 2020’s Dream Squasher (review here), but maybe that’s the difference between being punched in the stomach and the solar plexus. This was the one that took the air right out of your lungs, and did so with purpose beyond the simple violence of the act.

25. Eight Bells, Legacy of Ruin

eight bells legacy of ruin

Released by Prophecy Productions. Reviewed April 4.

Recorded (with Billy Anderson) during the general awfulness of 2020, this awaited third long-player from the Portland, Oregon, outfit led by former SubArachnoid Space guitarist/vocalist Melynda Marie Jackson harvested a vision of progressive black metal likewise expansive and dug into the dirt of its making. It was not easy listening by any stretch, but to undertake the challenge it issued listeners was to engage with a churning cosmic extremity that only emphasized the limits and folly of genre.

24. Stöner, Totally…

Stoner Totally
Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 9.

The follow-up from guitarist/vocalist Brant Bjork, bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri and drummer Ryan Güt to 2021’s Stoners Rule (review here) had its challenge in continuing to speak to the rawest-form desert punk of the project’s debut while nonetheless growing the sound and moving forward. Stöner did this by making it a (pizza) party, with cuts like “A Million Beers,” “Driving Miss Lazy” and “Strawberry Creek (Dirty Feet)” bringing further vocal integration from Bjork and Oliveri as they blanketly refused to not have a good time. Easy record to dig, and it was dug.

23. Conan, Evidence of Immortality

conan evidence of immortality

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Aug. 29.

One hates to use a cliché like “now more than ever,” but the return of UK lumberchuckers Conan was especially well-timed, and Evidence of Immortality spoke to the overwhelming strangeness of our times with clever metaphor while maintaining the trio’s punishing heft and extreme noise-doom onslaught. By now, their tonality is rightly the stuff of legend, and they know it and they play into it with particularly rampaging glee, but the six-track outing also showed how central atmosphere has become to their pummel, as heard on the 14-minute instrumental closer “Grief Sequence,” a somehow fitting complement to the all-in plod of leadoff “A Cleaved Head No Longer Plots.”

22. My Sleeping Karma, Atma

my sleeping karma atma
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed July 28.

It is remarkable how distinctive My Sleeping Karma have become over time. Their ever-instrumental approach is progressive and reliably able to broaden beyond its root arrangements of guitar, bass, drums and synth, but at the same time, their meditative psychedelia is only ever their own. This was their first studio album in seven years, and while its component material played out with an overarching melancholy that seemed to look inward as much as at the state of the world at large, the four-piece likewise presented an answer in the catharsis of their expression. An essential reminder of the healing art can provide, Atma‘s resonance was an immersive comfort in its own right Like a weighted blanket, and accordingly warm.

21. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager

sun voyager self titled

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 6.

New York’s Sun Voyager provided their own best descriptor of how their second full-length and first for Ripple functions in the song title “Rip the Sky.” The trio/sometimes-four-piece took cosmic bikerisms and classic punk/grunge shove, superheated them like they were about to fuse atoms, and accordingly scorched their way through a sans-nonsense-yet-full-of-nonsense 32 minutes and seven songs that, while varied enough in tempo, remained defined by their urgency. Last month, bassist/backing vocalist/keyboardist Stefan Mersch and drummer Kyle Beach announced Christian Lopez stepping in on guitar in place of Carlos Francisco, and whatever the future holds, they’re that much stronger for this wind pushing them forward.

20. Ealdor Bealu, Psychic Forms

Ealdor Bealu Psychic Forms

Released by Metal Assault Records. Reviewed March 18.

This band is three-for-three in my mind, and as their third full-length, Psychic Forms fostered the most realized vision of their take on progressive heavy rock to-date while feeling not at all like a culmination. In its range and atmospheric focus, it built on what came before, but in pushing as far as it did, it seemed to open as many doors as it went through. Does that make any sense? Did I mix metaphors enough? Point is, the Boise, Idaho-based four-piece seem to develop new ideas and incorporate new influences every time out, and while their material becomes more complex as a result of that, they have yet to put those adventurous impulses to any use that does not best serve the song in question. Psychic Forms is what I wish the word ‘Americana’ actually meant.

19. Mythosphere, Pathological

Mythosphere Pathological

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed Nov. 15.

On some level/levels, Mythosphere could be seen as a continuation of Beelzefuzz, the former outfit of guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt and drummer Darin McCloskey (both also of Pale Divine). That simplistic view, however, doesn’t account for the shift in dynamic of bringing in Victor Arduini (ex-Fates Warning, EntierroArduini/Balich) on lead guitar or Ron “Fezz” McGinnis (Pale DivineAdmiral Browning, etc.) on bass. The latter two play a massive role in building on the foundation of Ortt‘s recognizable style, and as they unfurled Pathological, the sense was that they were stronger for the members’ familiarity with each other even as they undertook developing this new dynamic. One of the strongest and most progressive debut albums Maryland doom has ever produced in my view.

18. Charley No Face, Eleven Thousand Volts

Charley No Face Eleven Thousand Volts

Released by Forbidden Place Records. Reviewed March 1.

As the year went on, the sophomore long-player from Oregon’s Charley No Face just wouldn’t let go. Songs like “Mosaic Sky,” “Big Sleep,” “Satan’s Hand” — they just kept calling me back to hear them again. Languid fuzz, dual-vocals both delivered in dreamy breaths, the odd bit of cultish tendencies, all of it feeding into tracks catchy, heavy and miraculously unpretentious; Eleven Thousand Volts wasn’t necessarily reinventing a genre aesthetic or anything so grandiose, but its tracks were impeccably well done and seemed built for repeat listens, from the mellow-heavy strut of opener “Eyes” through the sweeping culmination of “Death Mask” at the end. Charley No Face nailed it. 2020’s The Green Man (discussed here) set the course, but in bringing in keyboardist/vocalist Carina Hartley alongside guitarist/vocalist Nick Wulfrost, bassist Brad Larson and drummer Tim Abel, they leaped beyond even the most unreasonable of expectations.

17. Besvärjelsen, Atlas

besvarjelsen atlas

Released by Magnetic Eye Records. Reviewed May 11.

The combination in Atlas of breadth, spaciousness of sound, of rhythmic crunch, and of melody, put it in a stylistic category of its own. The Swedish fivesome whose moniker well-earned its own pronunciation guide have managed to grow and change each time out, but between the confident and soulful delivery of Lea Amling Alazam, the wide-spread tones of guitarists Andreas Baier and Staffan Stensland Vinrot, and the inherited-from-Dozer rhythm section of bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall, this felt like the moment where the band became themselves and seemed to realize the intentions they’d laid out at their beginning. Not bad for a self-produced second record, and not to be lost in the narrative of their ongoing maturation is the fact that for all their expanse, the songs seemed to get correspondingly tighter and more efficient structurally, which made them all the more engaging.

16. Telekinetic Yeti, Primordial

Telekinetic Yeti Primordial

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed July 11.

While the Dubuque, Iowa, duo remained somewhat defined by the split of their initial lineup that left guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann — joined now by drummer Rockwel Heim — as the lone remaining founder, Telekinetic Yeti pressed ahead with self-aware riff-led stoner metal that demonstrated a special kind of revelry for the form even as Primordial left its own elephantine footprint thereupon. Unrepentant in their crushing fuzz, the band tapped into the lizard-brain-thrill of celebrating aural heft, but did so without neglecting songcraft, taking melodic cues from Floor and others while sounding fresh even as they seemed so utterly covered in dense, caked-on mud. As they move forward, they’re another act from an up-and-coming generation of players whose potential at this point seems only beginning to manifest, and while Primordial hardly put one in mind for evolution thematically, Telekinetic Yeti remain one of tomorrow’s brightest hopes for riffslinging.

15. Geezer, Stoned Blues Machine

Geezer Stoned Blues Machine

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Just about a year ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to the studio (features here and here) with Kingston, New York, trio Geezer while they put down the basic tracks for what would become Stoned Blues Machine. Even at that early point in the record’s making, it was apparent that they’d outdone even what was their definitive statement in 2020’s Groovy (review here). In terms of songwriting, the performances captured from guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Richie Touseull and drummer Steve Markota, and the scope of the record, Geezer took the lessons of their best album yet and made a new best album yet. Rife with hooks in “Atomic Moronic,” the title-track, “A Cold Black Heart,” etc., they dug into songs like “Eleven” and “Saviours” with an honest and sincere music-as-escape mindset and honored their jammier side with the tripped out “The Diamond Rain of Saturn.” I’m a fan of these guys, and Stoned Blues Machine was more than I’d have asked for, even holding them to the high standard I do.

14. Sky Pig, It Thrives in Darkness

Sky Pig It Thrives in Darkness

Released by Forbidden Place Records. Reviewed Dec. 8.

Yeah, I said as much in the album review, and maybe-not-surprisingly my opinion hasn’t changed in the last two weeks, but if Sky Pig represent the future of sludge metal, that’s cool by me. The Sacramento outfit’s debut full-length takes the urgent crush of 2020’s Hell is Inside You EP and presents its maddening charge with offsetting, sometimes disturbing drone complement, sometimes resolving in steamroller-over-your-brain riffs and sometimes refusing to resolve at all. No matter how many times I put on the record, it’s a challenge. It’s not an easy listen, and where in many cases it wouldn’t be worth the effort, meeting Sky Pig on their level is thrilling and refreshing, which is so weird to think of about an album that so expertly seems to harness an atmosphere of decay. I won’t predict what the years to come will bring, or where Sky Pig will go from It Thrives in Darkness in terms of craft, but their first LP is both a significant accomplishment in individualizing stylistic impulses and overflowing with potential. A beast that hypnotizes, strikes, and hypnotizes again, purely because it can.

13. Sasquatch, Fever Fantasy

sasquatch fever fantasy

Released by Mad Oak Records. Reviewed June 3.

Listening to it, it seems somewhat cruel on the part of Los Angeles trio Sasquatch that, after being mastered in March 2020, Fever Fantasy sat in the proverbial can for more than two years before seeing release this June. Fortunately for all who’d take it on — only to be overwhelmed and consumed by the unruly dense fuzz of guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs and bassist Jason “Cas” Casanova en route to being punched upside your fool head by Craig Riggs‘ snare — the nine-song outing lost none of its edge for that time, and songs like “Lilac,” “Voyager” (dig that organ) and “Save the Day, Ruin the Night” hold firm to their on-the-beat intensity, a flawless uptempo heavy rock execution broadened by the flowing roll of the eight-minute “Ivy” and the full-bore-volume finish in “Cyclops” (dig that organ too). They’ve been on a streak for, I don’t know, the better part of two decades, and if the shove of “It Lies Beyond the Bay” doesn’t get you, then maybe the fact that in all their time they’ve never sounded this brazenly heavy will. Wouldn’t’ve minded it sooner, but it was certainly welcome this year. Inimitable energy in Sasquatch.

12. Wo Fat, The Singularity

wo fat the singularity

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 4.

What do you say to a seven-track/75-minute Wo Fat album except maybe “yes please?”  Could be the now-veteran Dallas-based three-piece — guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Zack Busby, drummer Michael Walter — were making up for lost time, having not had a studio album since 2016’s Midnight Cometh (review here) when they’d previously been on an every-two-years pattern like relative clockwork, but whatever it was, The Singularity was an album by which to be engulfed. The riffs, of course, the riffs, but consider that quick break of bright noodling in 13-minute opener “Orphans of the Singe,” or the delve into next-level heaviness that followed in “The Snows of Banquo IV.” While keeping to their core approach in jazz-informed, jam-prone-but-still-hooky bluesy fuzz rock, Wo Fat seemed to purposefully screw with their own formula, giving “The Unraveling” a tense chug and finding new realms of vastness in 16-minute closer “The Oracle.” Maybe it’ll be two years for their next one, maybe six, maybe never, but Wo Fat answered the call in 2022 as only they could, and one could only be grateful for their return.

11. Forlesen, Black Terrain

Forlesen black terrain

Released by I, Voidhanger Records. Reviewed Dec. 6.

It’s my nature to dig a lot of bands. I’m left in awe by far fewer. The second album from Forlesen, recorded mostly remotely as at least some portion of the band is now based in Oregon, Black Terrain was stunning enough that I couldn’t bring myself to even review it until about two months after it was already out. Beautifully arranged and set to purposes that were at times genuinely terrifying, this four-song answer to 2020’s debut, Hierophant Violent (review here), felt more patient even as it drew thicker lines between its movements and seemed to begin a process of melding styles through which one can only hope Forlesen‘s style will continue to develop. Sad and aggressive, wholly immersive and still challenging to the listener, Black Terrain was just as likely to tear open the cosmic fabric in “Harrowed Earth” as to drone itself into oblivion on its title-track, but it was the enthralling nature of the album as a single work — never mind that triumphant final solo in “Saturnine” — that was the real accomplishment. Most of all, Forlesen stood on their own, as themselves, and set their own path forward into the actually-unknown, with all the gorgeousness and horror that might imply.

10. Church of the Cosmic Skull, There is No Time

church of the cosmic skull there is no time

Released by Septaphonic Records. Reviewed Sept. 22.

The way “Pleading to the Cosmic Mother” seemed to actually plead, and the swap in perspective for “Last Words of a Dying God.” The sinister underpinning in the lyrical promises of “One More Step.” The devotional sensibility and swirl of “Seven Rays of Colour” at the outset and the corresponding regret of “We Lost it Somewhere” at the end. That hook in “Now’s the Time.” The complement across sides in “Valleys and Hills Pt. 1 – Peel Away the Layers” and “Valleys and Hills Pt. 2 – Pure Illumination.” Church of the Cosmic Skull‘s fourth album not only brought founding guitarist/vocalist Bill Fisher‘s whole-album compositional sensibility to new heights, but was truly classic in feel and the ways in which the songs spoke to each other, worked off each other, melodically, rhythmically and in theme. Gorgeously harmonized as ever, the cult-minded UK seven-piece gave up nothing of craft in service to their audio/visual aesthetic, and even just on the level of a-thing-to-put-on, the utter listenability and welcome that There is No Time offered was no less resonant than the calls to sing along to any number of the choruses. There is no one else out there like them, no other band among the hundreds covered here who can do what they do, and yes, I mean that. They are special, transcendent.

9. All Souls, Ghosts Among Us

All Souls Ghosts Among Us

Released by Oscura Records. Reviewed Oct. 19.

Granted, as regards narrative, the story of All Souls‘ third album behind 2020’s Songs for the End of the World (review here) and 2018’s self-titled debut (review here) was always going to be that the Los Angeles-based then-trio of guitarist/vocalist Antonio Aguilar, bassist/vocalist Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi) and drummer Tony Tornay (also Fatso Jetson) recorded with producer Alain Johannes (ElevenQueens of the Stone Age, etc.). And the songs bore his mark for sure, in backing vocals and lead guitar, complementing and fleshing out the root heavy punk rock-isms of the band, who, well, were down a guitarist anyhow and had room for such contributions. I don’t know what the impetus was behind the collaboration, but even just in the performances captured from the trio, the songs felt like the best versions of themselves, and went beyond third-record realizations in terms of stepping forward from where All Souls were two years ago. They remain woefully undervalued in my mind, and I have the feeling that might be the case even if they were millionaires, but the spirit in Ghosts Among Us, that intangible atmosphere and sonic persona that emerged was both intimate and sprawling, deeply singular and heartfelt while bringing the listener along for the journey across its still-humble 39 minutes. Records like this don’t happen every year. You should hear it.

8. Okkoto, Climb the Antlers and Reach the Stars

Okkoto climb the Antlers and reach the stars

Self-released. Reviewed May 31.

Formerly (?) the drummer of New Paltz, New York, psych purveyors It’s Not Night: It’s Space, self-recording multi-instrumentalist Michael Lutomski is the lone figure behind Okkoto, and Climb the Antlers and Reach the Stars was his second full-length under the banner after 2019’s Fear the Veil Not the Void. Across five individualized but flowing pieces, Lutomski harnessed a meditative ambience that pushed into homemade intimacy and aural distance in kind, the songs serene as they evocatively conjured a three-dimensional world of length, width, depth. With just a couple guest appearances adding to his own performances, Lutomski found balance in exploration, and the resonance of “Wind at the Gated Grove,” the birdsong in “First Drops in the Cup of Dawn” and the ethereal presence in the soft, rolling nod of finale “Where the Meadows Dream Beside the Sea” all fed into an impression that one might call “striking” were it not so gently, carefully handled. Climb the Antlers and Reach the Stars felt like an offering in the truest sense of the word, and brought soulful purpose to its experimentalism, giving comfort to the listener in its willful contradiction of anxiety; not so much ‘for our times’ as beyond time. It established Lutomski as a noteworthy auteur and creator, and engaged with the organic on every level in a way unforced, loving and hypnotic. Everything was exactly as it needed to be.

7. Moura, Axexan, Espreitan

Moura Axexan Espreitan

Released by Spinda Records. Reviewed March 11.

There was so much happening at times throughout the 40 minutes of Axexan, Espreitan that it could be hard to keep up with, but in fusing together heavy psych and classic, progressive heavy rock with their native Galician folk influences, Moura found a sound unlike anything else I heard this year. It was such a palpable sense of sharing; an expression of the internalized value of culture. Even as “Romance de Andrés d’Orois” seemed at its outset to float in the antigravity space created by the prior intro “Alborada do alén,” it did so with humanity and made itself memorable in its arrangement and across-language-barrier total-dialogue, conversing with itself, history, the future and the listener. It could be traditionally heavy, as in the scorcher guitar work in the second half of “Pelerinaxes” or the closing stretch of “Lúa vermella,” but showed in songs like “Encontro cunha moura fiadeira en Dormeá” that Axexan, Espreitan was about more than where a given linear build was going, but about the sights and meetings along the way. On just their second full-length, Moura displayed a rare mastery of their approach and made each piece feel like a celebration of something beyond themselves and their songwriting, whether that was the relatively minimal “Cantar do liño” or the kosmiche thrust of “Baile do dentón.” Could be head-spinning, could be tranquil, but whatever else it was at any given time, it was wonderfully complete and engrossing.

6. Colour Haze, Sacred

Colour haze sacred

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Colour Haze are not only one of the most pivotal and influential European bands of their generation — heavy psychedelic rock would not exist as it does without them, period — but even more importantly, they’re a group who have refused stagnation outright. Sacred was the Munich-based four-piece’s 14th album, and it presented a shift in the dynamic in marking the studio introduction of bassist Mario Oberpucher — taking on the role held for more than two decades by Philip Rasthofer in the rhythm section alongside drummer Manfred Merwald — and found Stefan Koglek‘s guitar playing off Jan Faszbender‘s keys and synth in ever more engaging ways. It wasn’t just about stepping back and giving space to one instrument or the other anymore, but about how they can converse together and bolster the songs, push each other as players and bring the best out of each other to the ultimate strengthening of the record itself. Like so much of what Colour Haze do, this is organic; a natural process happening over time, and to be sure, their next album will likewise be an outgrowth of what they accomplished in Sacred, their songs so undeniably their own even as they explore new reaches and ideas. A bit of lyrical cynicism in “Avatar,” “See the Fools” and the defiant stance of “Goldmine” spoke to the moment of their creation, but Sacred provided its own best argument for love over hate, and perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid is that it’s a record worthy of the band that made it.

5. Author & Punisher, Krüller

author and punisher kruller

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Feb. 1.

This was my album of the year for most of the year, and there’s a big part of me that continues to think of it on those terms. The eighth full-length from San Diego solo industrialist Tristan Shone — who brought Ecstatic Vision‘s Doug Sabolick on tour as guitarist — branched out melodically from 2018’s Beastland (discussed here), which was his first for Relapse, which could be heard likewise in his own not-just-harsh vocals and in the use of melodic programmed synth as well on a song like “Maiden Star.” At the same time, an uptick in production value gave cinematic presence to the storytelling of “Drone Mounting Dread,” “Centurion” and the concluding title-track (among others), and a corresponding increase in engagement with non-synth instrumentation — needing a guitarist was not a coincidence — brought weighted bass to “Centurion” and live drums to “Misery,” further broadening the scope of what was an examination of pandemic-era life in America, the dystopian nature of the US circa 2021 presented as the backdrop upon which the songs took place; see “Incinerator,” the electronic-noise overload of “Blacksmith” and even the masculine voice through which the Portishead cover “Glorybox” was manifest. Shone reaffirmed his place miles ahead of almost the entire sphere of industrial metal, and gave the everything-is-whole-planet-death-and-it’s-our-fault moment the cruel sense of tragedy it deserved, mourning chaos even as it acknowledged a place for love within it.

4. Caustic Casanova, Glass Enclosed Nerve Center

Caustic Casanova Glass Enclosed Nerve Center

Released by Magnetic Eye Records. Reviewed Oct. 5.

In the name of all that is good and right in the universe, have you heard this album? With it, Caustic Casanova — bassist/vocalist Francis Beringer (who wrote the best lyrics I read all year, hands down), drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zænker, and guitarists Andrew Yonki and Jake Kimberley — outdid themselves, the pandemic and the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt in five songs and 45 minutes of unflinchingly perfect quirk. Are they punk, noise, prog, stoner rock, post-hardcore or sludge? Yes. Also no. Also a little bit, maybe? I’ve been through Glass Enclosed Nerve Center — the band’s fifth album and first written as a four-piece — a bother-my-family-with-it amount of times, and I’m still up in the air on where it rests categorically, and perhaps that’s in part because the one thing it did not do was rest. Even in the multiple stages of 22-minute finale “Bull Moose Against the Sky,” which I promise you is the only reason I’m even doing a Song of the Year part of this post below, their moves were considered and unpredictable in kind, and whether it was the weight of “Lodestar,” the sunrise at the outset of “Anubis Rex,” the yes-it’s-been-like-that mania of “A Bailar Con Cuarentena” or the hypnotic-plus-dizzying then massive “Shrouded Coconut” on side A, Caustic Casanova were able to pivot from one part the next while making hooks out of single measures and crafting an outing that went beyond even the sundry weirdo triumphs they’ve had to this point in their tenure. A special record on every level one might want to consider, and quintessentially the band’s own.

3. The Otolith, Folium Limina

The Otolith Folium Limina
Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Oct. 28.

When Salt Lake City, Utah’s SubRosa ended after releasing the best album of 2016 in For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), the heart ached for the expressive artistry and distinct style that was snuffed out when it seemed the band still had so much more to say. The emergence of The Otolith, with former SubRosa members Sarah Pendleton and Kim Cordray (violin and vocals, both), Levi Hanna (now guitar/vocals) and Andy Patterson (drums, percussion, production, mixing, mastering) — four-fifths of the band that was — and their presentation of the debut album Folium Limina, has been the flower growing on top of that grave. Together with bassist/vocalist Matt Brotherton, the atmospheric, almost-gothic-but-too-in-the-real-world, gracefully flowing post-metallic five-piece didn’t so much pick up where the last band left off as use that ending to mark a new beginning of their own exploration. Increased use of sampling (at least one big one in the penultimate “Bone Dust”), keyboard/synth, and deeper arrangements of harsh/clean vocals on songs like “Ekpyrotic” and the finale “Dispirit” diverged in intent and the full album maintained a mournful, critical, intelligent-but-emotive poetic voice that carried across the entirety of its consuming 63 minutes. This made Folium Limina of a kind with its high desert/mountainous, surrounded-by-dangerous-fanatics-and-duly-frightened-and-defiant predecessor, but even better, it declared The Otolith as ready to step out of that significant shadow and flourish as something new.

2. King Buffalo, Regenerator

king buffalo regenerator
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed July 21.

The third of three was perhaps a definitive statement of who King Buffalo are as a group. The Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Sean McVay, bassist/synthesist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson released two albums in 2021 in The Burden of Restlessness (review here), which was my pick for last year’s album of the year, and the also-in-the-top-five, cave-recorded Acheron (review here), the seven-song Regenerator, as their fifth full-length overall, faced the biggest challenge of any of their studio work to-date in completing their unofficial pandemic-era trilogy of LPs written during covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Regenerator not only rose to the occasion, but deftly served as keystone for the series in tying together the progressive psychedelia of The Burden of Restlessness with the exploratory, speaking-to-the-natural-world communion of Acheron. Whether it was the opener/longest track (immediate points) “Regenerator” itself, the tight push of tension in “Mercury” or the later melodic fleshing out of “Mammoth” and “Avalon,” or the all-embracing conclusion in “Firmament,” Regenerator tied together the two albums before and stepped forward as something new, finding an ideal balance for the band’s increasingly multifaceted approach without sacrificing songcraft in its individual pieces. These last two years have seen King Buffalo ascend among the foremost purveyors of heavy psychedelia, and the genre is stronger for the efforts they’ve made to reshape it in their image. The truly horrifying part is I’m convinced their best work is still ahead of them. Amid trauma and cynicism, King Buffalo made it okay to feel optimistic.

2022 Album of the Year

1. Elder, Innate Passage


Released by Stickman Records & Armageddon Shop. Reviewed Nov. 17.

Sometimes the obvious answer is the answer. In the last decade, the first-Massachusetts-then-mostly-Berlin, first-trio-then-four-piece Elder became a defining presence in progressive heavy psychedelic rock, with 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here), 2012’s Spires Burn/Release EP (review here), 2015’s landmark among landmarks Lore (review here), and 2017’s Reflections of a Floating World (review here) each taking forward steps to create a sound influential even as it seemed to be constantly coming to fruition. This is their best album, no, this is their best album. In this decade, they stand astride their aesthetic as masters. As the follow-up to 2020’s moment-of-transition Omens (review here), the five-track Innate Passage is an arrival; a vision of Elder as mature and still evolving, veterans ahead of their time while most of their generation are upstarts, and on a wavelength of their own despite the increasing pervasiveness of their predominance. The flexibility of their songwriting, and the ability of founding guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Nick DiSalvo — joined by founding bassist Jack Donovan, guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg and drummer Georg Edert — to marry parts together that would in other hands be too disparate to connect have never been so resonant, and in cuts like “Endless Return,” “Catastasis,” and the 14-minute two-parter “Merged in Dreams/Ne Plus Ultra,” Elder harvested their most accomplished melodicism to-date (guest vocal harmonies from Samavayo‘s Behrang Alavi and the production of Linda Dag at Clouds Hill Studio were both notable contributions to this aspect of the work), while simultaneously keeping mindful of the dynamic potential of the songs to be tonally and rhythmically heavy, as in “Coalescence” the otherworldly finisher “The Purpose” and indeed, impact-minded stretches in “Catastasis” and “Merged in Dreams/Ne Plus Ultra.” This emphasis felt daring from a band who had purposefully moved away from lumbering-style riffing a decade earlier, and the seamlessness with which Elder integrated these ideas into their proggy aural macrocosm helped make Innate Passage a standout even in their unflinchingly forward-moving discography, even as the title itself reminded that this too is likely only another step along their path. Off they go again, ascendant.

The Top 60 Albums of 2022: Honorable Mention

Strap yourselves in, kids. We’re not done yet.

The year wouldn’t have been as sonically stellar as it was without:

40 Watt Sun, 10,000 Years, Aawks, Abrams, Alunah, Ararat, Artifacts & Uranium, Basalt Shrine, Behold! The Monolith, Black Capricorn, Black Lung, Black Space Riders, Blue Heron, Boris, Brujas del Sol, Burning Sister, Cachemira, Candlemass, Carcaño, Carson, Cave In, Chat Pile, Church of the Sea, Circle of Sighs, Come to Grief, Crippled Black Phoenix, Crowbar, Michael Rudolph Cummings, Deathwhite, Deer Creek, Desert Wave, Deville, Dirty Streets, DR​Ö​Ö​G, DUNDDW, Dune Sea, Dystopian Future Movies, Early Moods, Electric Mountain, El Perro, E-L-R, End Boss, Evert Snyman & The Aviary, Firebreather, Foot, Fostermother, Freebase Hyperspace, FutureProjektor, Fuzz Sagrado, Garden of Worm, Gaupa, Gnome, Goatriders, Greenbeard, Half Gramme of Soma, Horehound, Humanotone, Ian Blurton’s Future Now, James Romig/Mike Scheidt, Jawless, Kadavermarch, Kaleidobolt, Kanaan, Kandodo4, Kryptograf, LáGoon, Erik Larson, Les Lekin, Lydsyn, Madness, Mammoth Volume, Melt Motif, Mezzoa, MIGHT, Mirror Queen, Mother of Graves, Motorpsycho, Mount Desert, Mount Saturn, My Diligence, Mythic Sunship, Nadja, Ode and Elegy, Oktas, Olson Van Cleef and Williams, Ol’ Time Moonshine, Onségen Ensemble, Orango, Øresund Space Collective, Papir, Paralyzed, People of the Black Circle, Pia Isa, Pike vs. the Automaton, Psychlona, Red Eye, Reverend Mother, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, Rocky Mtn Roller, Ruby the Hatchet, Russian Circles, Seremonia, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Sergio Ch., Seven Nines and Tens, Sleepwulf, Slowenya, Soldat Hans, Somnus Throne, Sonja, Sons of Arrakis, Steak, Știu Nu Știu, Sula Bassana, Sum of R, Supplemental Pills, Swamp Lantern, The Swell Fellas, Tekarra, T.G. Olson, Trace Amount, Uncle Woe, Vitskär Süden, Voivod, Eric Wagner, Weddings, Wild Rocket, and Yatra.


Some of these, in comparison to the year-end poll, are more popular picks than others. As always, part of what I base my list on is my own listening habits, so if my list is different than yours, well, I’m a different person. Mystery solved.

That said, I acknowledge that especially at post-time, this is preliminary and I am — at times overwhelmingly — fallible. While I keep a running list all year of standout records, based on my preferences as well as what I perceive as critical value separate from them within a given subset of styles, and despite the fact that I’ve gone back through the more than 300 releases that have been reviewed (so far) in 2022 to make this list, it’s possible and indeed likely I’ve forgotten somebody, left someone out who deserves to be here.

If that’s the case — and based on just about every other year I’ve done this, it very likely is — I ask again that you please be kind in pointing out whatever that may be and whyever you believe it should be where it isn’t. Maybe your pick for the best release of 2022 isn’t here at all. Instead of calling me a dipshit and an idiot, let’s try to celebrate the fact that in a single heavy underground, there can be such a diverse range of opinions and different artists and styles to appreciate, and how fortunate we are to be alive at a time when so much incredible art is available at the click of a make-believe button. Also indoor plumbing and penicillin, but that’s a different conversation entirely and best left to another day.

Last year, I limited honorable mentions to 60 to correspond with the numbered list. I’ve got over 115 bands listed above, and if in combination with the top 60 itself you find that to be an insurmountable swath of releases, good. That’s the point. We are surrounded by beauty every day. It can be difficult to keep this in mind, but there is little that’s more important than knowing that. I thank you for your attention and hope, as ever, that you find something in all of this that speaks to you.

Debut Album of the Year 2022

The Otolith, Folium Limina

The Otolith Folium Limina

Other notable debuts (somewhat alphabetically):

AAWKS, Heavy on the Cosmic
Arð, Take Up My Bones
Basalt Shrine, From Fiery Tongues
Burning Sister, Mile High Downer Rock
Burn the Sun, Le Roi Soleil
Chat Pile, God’s Country
Church of the Sea, Odalisque
Come to Grief, When the World Dies
Early Moods, Early Moods
Edena Gardens, Edena Gardens
El Perro, Hair Of…
Elk Witch, Beyond the Mountain
End Boss, They Seek My Head
Faetooth, Remnants of the Vessel
Freebase Hyperspace, Planet High
The Gray Goo, 1943
High Noon Kahuna, Killing Spree
Jawless, Warrizer
Kadavermarch, Into Oblivion
Kamru, Kosmic Attunement to the Malevolent Rites of the Universe
Les Nadie, Destierro y Siembra
Limousine Beach, Limousine Beach
London Odense Ensemble, Jaiyede Sessions Vol. 1
Lydsyn, Lydsyn
Magnatar, Crushed
Maunra, Monarch
Mother Bear, Zamonian Occultism
Mount Desert, Fear the Heart
Mount Saturn, O Great Moon
Mythosphere, Pathological
Ode and Elegy, Ode and Elegy
Oktas, The Finite and the Infinite
People of the Black Circle, People of the Black Circle
Pia Isa, Distorted Chants
Reverend Mother, Damned Blessing
Rocky Mtn Roller, Haywire
Room 101, Sightless
Sky Pig, It Thrives in Darkness
Sonja, Loud Arriver
Sons of Arrakis, Volume 1
Supersonic Blues, It’s Heavy
Supplemental Pills, Volume 1
Swamp Lantern, The Lord is With Us
Venus Principle, Stand in Your Light
VoidOath, Ascension Beyond Kokytus
Voidward, Voidward
Yawn, Materialism


I struggled this year with what counted as a debut album. As noted above, four-fifths of The Otolith were in a previous band together. Is this a first record or a continuing collaboration? What about Mythosphere, born out of Beelzefuzz? Come to Grief? Edena Gardens? Lydsyn? Ultimately I decided to err on the side of inclusion, as you can see, and count it all. I will not apologize for that.

The Otolith’s Folium Limina stood alone as the year’s best debut, but other personal favorites here were Sky Pig, Mythosphere, Early Moods (who are among the brightest hopes for traditional doom in my mind), Supersonic Blues, Mount Saturn, End Boss, Les Nadie and UWUW, and Edena Gardens — if you’re looking for recommendations of places to start before diving into the weedian mischief of The Gray Goo. Some of these got more hype than others, and there’s a fairly broad range of styles represented, but even as grim as the material on this list gets, these acts and artists are united by the potential they represent for pushing heavy music forward, covering new ground and exploring new ideas as only fresh perspectives can.

At the beginning, I asked you to note how many second LPs were included in the overall list, and it did feel like a lot to me. With the quality in this list as well, I would not expect that to change in the next few years to come, as generational turnover and post-covid reshuffling continue to shake out.

Short Release of the Year 2022

Domkraft & Slomatics, Ascend/Descend Split LP

Slomatics Domkraft Ascend Descend

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Ascia, III
Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman
Blasting Rod, Mirror Moon Ascending
Bloodshot Buffalo, Light EP
Captain Caravan & Kaiser, Turned to Stone Ch. 6
The Cimmerian, Thrice Majestic
Elephant Tree, Track by Track
Fatso Jetson & All Souls, Live From Total Annihilation
The Freeks, Miles of Blues
Lammping, Stars We Lost
Lightrain, AER
Naxatras, Live in Athens
Pyre Fyre, Rinky Dink City/Slow Cookin’
Red Mesa, Forest Cathedral
Ruby the Hatchet, Live at Earthquaker
Sâver & Frøkedal, Split
Saturna & Electric Monolith, Turned to Stone Ch. 4: Higher Selves
Slugg, Yonder
Temple Fang, Jerusalem/The Bridge
Torpedo Torpedo, The Kuiper Belt Mantras
Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships, Consensus Trance
Warpstormer, Here Comes Hell


First I’ll say that of all the lists in this super-listy post, this is the least complete. I don’t know if I just sucked at keeping track of EPs this year, but if you’ve got more you’d like to add to the above, I’m all ears.

Slomatics and Domkraft took the top spot early. Yes, I did the liner notes for that release, but between Majestic Mountain’s presentation of the vinyl, the bands covering each other and their own original work, it was too substantial to not be considered as it is. Temple Fang were a late contender, and I’ll note the work of Torpedo Torpedo and Lightrain, who are newer acts of marked potential as well. I look forward to debut albums from both of them, if not in 2023 then hopefully 2024.

Some live stuff from Elephant Tree, Naxatras, Ruby the Hatchet and Fatso Jetson/All Souls. The always-welcome Lammping. Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships continuing their intriguing progression, Slugg with a single-track statement, Ascia marching forth, Red Mesa branching out — there’s a lot here to dig, even if it’s not everything. Note two of Ripple’s ongoing Turned to Stone split series being included, and the Sâver and Frøkedal split, which was among the year’s boldest outings while still relatively brief. That in itself is a thing to be honored.

Song of the Year 2022

Caustic Casanova, “Bull Moose Against the Sky”

Caustic Casanova Glass Enclosed Nerve Center

Tracks from Conan, UWUW, Chat Pile, Temple Fang, CB3, The Otolith, Elder, King Buffalo, Ruby the Hatchet, Melt Motif, Forlesen, My Sleeping Karma, Author & Punisher, Church of the Cosmic Skull, -(16)-, River Flows Reverse, Telekinetic Yeti, Wo Fat, on and on and on, were also considered.

But they were considered after the fact of Caustic Casanova’s “Bull Moose Against the Sky.”

The 22-minute side-B-devouring epic tale — multiple speakers and Greek chorus included — spanned progressive Americana, heavy rock and roll, punk, black metal blastbeats, disco keyboards, and historical narrative with nigh-on-impossible fluidity, mining cohesion from confusion in a singular achievement and at a level of execution that most bands simply never touch. Though its purposes were different, I rate “Bull Moose Against the Sky” of a quality that stands alongside the likes of grand declarations like Ancestors’ “First Light” and YOB’s “Marrow” as the kind of song that happens only a couple times in a decade. As I said above, it is the reason I’m including a song-of-the-year section in this post at all. If you have not heard it, I tell you with all sincerity that you’re missing something special.

Looking Ahead to 2023

With the eternal caveat that release plans change and that production delays in vinyl and label release schedules are fluid, malleable things, here are some of the artists I’m watching for in the New Year to come, presented in some semblance of alphabetically:

Ahab, Ahrbeka, Aktopasa, The Awesome Machine, Azken Auzi, Benthic Realm, Big Scenic Nowhere, Bismut, Black Rainbows, Blackwülf, Carlton Melton, Cavern Deep, Child, Church of Misery, Clouds Taste Satanic, Dead Shrine, Dirge, Dozer, Draken, Endtime & Cosmic Reaper, Enslaved, Ethyl Ether, Fatso Jetson & Dali’s Llama, Fever Ray, Fuzz Sagrado, The Golden Grass, Gozu, Graveyard, Greenleaf, Green Lung, Gypsy Chief Goliath & End of Age, Hail the Void, High Leaf, High Priestess, Hippie Death Cult, Iron Void, Isaak, Jack Harlon and the Dead Crows, Katatonia, Kind, Kollapse, KVLL, Lord Mountain, Love Gang, The Machine, Mansion, Mars Red Sky, Mathew’s Hidden Museum, Merlock, Monarch, The Necromancers, Negative Reaction, No Man’s Valley, Obelyskkh, The Obsessed, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Polymoon, Raum Kingdom, REZN, Ridge, Rotor, Ruff Majik, Sacri Monti, Saint Karloff, Seum, Shadow Witch, Siena Root, Solemn Lament, Stinking Lizaveta, Stöner, Super Pink Moon, Tidal Wave, Tranquonauts, Trillion Ton Beryllium Ships, Westing, Witch, Witch Ripper, Witchthroat Serpent, Yawning Balch, Yawning Man, Zeup

Thank you

A bit about what’s gone into making this post: In the ‘Notes’ doc by which I organize the bulk of the part of my life that deals with music, I have sections devoted to the various best-of categories you see above. These are always in progress. I began to keep track of 2022 releases in 2021, just as I’ve begun already to consider what’s in store for 2023 (and beyond). It does not stop.

Because of this, I cannot give you an accurate count of the hours involved in this project, but as it always seems to be, it is the biggest post I’ve written this year — over 8,000 words as of this paragraph, the most time-consuming, and second in importance in my mind only to the results of the year-end poll still to come. On this actual writing, I’ve spent the last week involved in prep work, from early mornings that start at four on my laptop and end when my son (now five) wakes up and immediately demands to watch Sesame Street, to frantically swiping words into my phone in between the sundry tasks of my ensuing day.

I’m not telling you this to brag — in fact I don’t think it’s anything to brag about — but to make the point that without your support, none of this would be worth my time. Year in and year out, I thank you for reading, and the longer I run this site, the more continually astounded I am that anybody beyond myself gives a crap about what goes on here. From the bottom of my heart to the farthest reaches of Hawkwindian space, I am grateful, humbled, and appreciative to my core. Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

And thanks to my wife, The Patient Mrs., through whose support and love all things are possible.

I’m gonna try my damnedest to take tomorrow off, but rest assured, there’s more to come. Here’s to the next round, and thanks again for reading.

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Stöner Announce New EP Boogie to Baja; Stream First Single

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Today Cali-based desert rock freak/veterans Stöner announce they’ll release their new EP, Boogie to Baja, on Feb. 24 in continued collaboration with Heavy Psych Sounds, which has also put out their two studio LPs to-date, 2021’s Stoners Rule (review here), earlier 2022’s Totally… (review here), as well as the 2021 livestream/live record, ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ (review here) and Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 (review here) that were the introduction to the new project from genre figureheads Brant BjorkNick Oliveri, and their not-quite-secret-anymore weapon in drummer Ryan Güt.

The first streaming single from Boogie to Baja is “City Kids,” and you can hear it live up to the EP’s title at the bottom of this post. After finally getting to see this band live (review here) as summer drew down, I look forward to getting to know a new batch of stripped-to-the-core low-dez punk tunes. If you’ve been digging it, then chances are you can dig it.

Fresh off the PR wire:

Stoner boogie to baja

STÖNER (w/ Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri) to issue new record “Boogie To Baja” on Heavy Psych Sounds; first track streaming!

STÖNER, the desert rock supergroup formed by Brant Bjork (ex-Kyuss and Fu Manchu), Nick Oliveri (ex-Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age) alongside drummer Ryan Güt, present the first single taken from their new album “Boogie To Baja”, to be issued on February 24th through Heavy Psych Sounds.

Says the band: “During the recording of ‘totally…’, we were having a blast and the music just kept rollin’ out so we decided to also put together a tasty EP. Guests Mario Lalli on “Stöner Theme” and Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks and Bad Religion on our version of the Motorhead/Pink Fairies classic “City Kids” makes this EP extra sweet. Jump in and let’s Boogie To Baja!”

STÖNER is the supergroup formed by desert rock godfathers and long-time friends Brant Bjork (founding member of Kyuss, also former Fu Manchu), Nick Oliveri (Mondo Generator, former Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age) and Ryan Güt (Brant Bjork drummer). Their debut studio album ‘Stoners Rule’ was released in the summer of 2021, and they quickly returned with their sophomore studio full-length ‘totally…’ in the spring of 2022, alongside an extensive tour across the US, Europe and Australia/New Zealand including appearances in the biggest festivals.

Their new delivery “Boogie To Baja” features five tracks in the purest STÖNER tradition, a perfect mix of desert swing, stoner rock and low desert punk all at once! With Brant Bjork’s laid-back grooves and Nick Oliveri’s trademark fire, this is once again an explosive record that will drive all fans of the stoner rock veterans crazy. “Boogie To Baja” was produced by Yosef Sanborn and features appearances from Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson, ex-Yawning Man) and Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, ex-Bad Religion)

“Boogie To Baja” will be released in four different limited edition vinyl colors, black vinyl, CD and digital on February 24th, 2023, with preorders up now from Heavy Psych Sounds.

STÖNER “Boogie To Baja”
Out February 24th on Heavy Psych Sounds – PREORDER:

1. Stöner Theme (Baja Version)
2. City Kids
3. Night Tripper vs No Brainer
4. It Ain’t Free
5. Boogie To Baja

Brant Bjork – Guitars/Vocals
Nick Oliveri – Bass
Ryan Güt – Drums

Stöner, “City Kids”

Stöner, Totally… (2022)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 93

Posted in Radio on September 16th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I don’t know how many of these posts I’ve done by now. Fewer than actual episodes, the number of which I do keep track. But it always feels a little weird. Yeah, guess what? I think it’s a cool show. Of course I fucking do. I made it. What, I’m going to try to suck?

So hey, this is a pretty good show. You should listen.

In all seriousness, I want to express my thanks to Gimme Metal for allowing me to continue to do this. Their platform has gotten huge in the last few years and they need my ass taking up two hours of precious air time like they need a reminder of traditional radio’s downfall, so it really means something to me that I get to weird out and share music for a new show every two weeks. I can’t even turn my playlists in on time. My voice tracks weren’t submitted until Tuesday! Terrible.

Bottom line though is Gimme doesn’t at all have to let me keep doing a show. In my embarrassing number of years, I’ve seen outside-the-genre interest in heavy rock, psych, doom, sludge, and so on wax and wane, and my experience is that if you’re not all the way in it, you’re eventually going to move on to something else that speaks to you. Nothing wrong with that, of course; it’s how life works. It’s why I’m not catholic. But for a company with their hands in so much other shit to allow someone like me to do my thing in my own way and my own time is pretty god damned rare and viscerally appreciated.

That’s all I’ve got to say about it, except that, again, this show is pretty good.

Thanks if you listen and thanks for reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at:

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 09.16.22 (VT = voice track)

King Buffalo Mammoth Regenerator
Slomosa There is Nothing New Under the Sun Slomosa
Fu Manchu Mongoose California Crossing
Stöner Space Dude & The Burn Totally…
Monolord The Siren of Yirsinia Your Time to Shine
Corrosion of Conformity The Door Wiseblood
Colour Haze Goldmine Sacred
Mythic Sunship Equinox Light/Flux
Blue Rumble Brasas Blue Lightning/Brasas
Solanhum Basti (Falling into the Natural Realm) Rostratum
Fogteeth Delirium Man Headspace
Electric Wizard The Chosen Few Witchcult Today
Alain Johannes If Morning Comes Hum
Red Sky Blues Glowing Red Sky Blues
Kungens Män Keeper of the One Key VA – International Space Station Vol. 1

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Sept. 30 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

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Live Review: Stöner & Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers in NJ, 09.07.22

Posted in Reviews on September 8th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Stoner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Pardon me if I bask in the convenience of this for a second. My entire adult life, and before that, even, I’ve traveled for shows. To New York, mostly, but also central and southern New Jersey, to Boston, to Connecticut, Wisconsin, California, Texas, to foreign countries, etc. I’ve never rolled out of the house and had a venue down the road.

Factory Records, which through a miracle of association was hosting Stöner and Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers for an intimate, limited-to-50-tickets show — even more incredibly, one that started at 8PM — is 17 minutes from my house by car. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever been to that’s been closer than that. Certainly not a show I was as interested in as this one. Even when I saw Brant Bjork almost exactly three years ago in Jersey (review here), that was further away.

And for context and my own future reference, this show was one night after watching Germany’s Rammstein alight Metlife Stadium in a spectacle largely incomparable in scale to other concerts. Surely, hopefully, there would be less fireworks in the Factory Records lounge.

It was my first time seeing Stöner, with the aforementioned Bjork on guitar and vocals, Nick Oliveri on bass/vocals and Ryan Güt on drums, which felt a little late, even considering. They’d been through with Clutch, toured into New York, etc., but I hadn’t made it. And realistically, I might’ve missed this one too were it not comparatively on my doorstep. In any case, after Stöner‘s two studio albums, 2021’s Stoners Rule (review here), earlier 2022’s Totally… (review here), and the 2021 livestream/live record, ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ (review here) and Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 (review here), that served as their introduction to audiences, I felt pretty secure in my expectation for what was coming, not the least because I’d also checked out a stream of the Chicago show on this tour.

That stream was my first exposure to Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers, who have been doing honors as the support act since this tour began in Brooklyn on Aug. 25. And even after watching that stream, somehow the potentiality for righteousness of having Mario Lalli — as legit as “desert rock legends” get, truly — on one flank of the stage and Brant Bjork — see previous aside — on the other had eluded me. But hot damn those were some jams. A quick iPad-as-keyboard intro, and off. I don’t know that it would work on a studio album, but with Sean Wheeler out front reminding the room that if you can’t hang with weirdo druggie poets you should get your ass out of the desert immediately, reading, semi-singing, gradually removing clothes, regularly crossing in front of the monitors that delineated where the crowd ended and the band began, it was a show for sure. Güt on drums like don’t even worry about it, Oliveri — who I last saw leaving blisters with Mondo Generator at Freak Valley Festival (review here) — doing some vocals but mostly just hanging out as a part of the thing, it was a jam vibe even if they clearly knew at least in part where they were headed, Lalli calling out the occasional change.

And moreover, it was suited to the room. Some hanging lights, pieces of fabric adorned the ceiling, oriental rugs on the floor — nobody fell that I saw — and records decorative on the wall to reinforce the notion of many more outside the lounge room waiting to be purchased, couches lining the walls and merch in back, the vibe fit. This show? It was BYOB. I felt like I could genuinely hang out in that room. Like, for an evening. At a show. I felt welcome and comfortable. I consider that a premium these days.

The power blew at one point during the Rubber Snake Charmers set, but it was a quick recovery and Wheeler held it down in the meantime. They played for about 40 minutes and amorphous groove, and were nothing less than a pleasure to behold. And one assumes that having all three members of Stöner on stage playing as part of the opener made the changeover that much easier as well. There was still a bit of a break, which seemed fair enough, but Oliveri introduced them quick — a formality; everyone there knew who they were — and they hit into “Rad Stays Rad” before unfurling all of Stoners Rule, not necessarily in order, but in full nonetheless. “The Older Kids,” “Own Yer Blues,” “Evel Never Dies,” “Stand Down,” “Nothin’,” and even “Tribe/Fly Girl” for a mellow comedown late in the set.

From Totally… there was “Party March,” “Strawberry Creek (Dirty Feet),” and “A Million Beers,” the last of which was made all the more driving thanks to Güt‘s work on drums, ghost notes on the snare, loose-looking swing, holding the bottom of the sticks and able to roll or punker-blast, whatever the song calls for. I’ve been lucky enough now to see Güt play a few times between Brant Bjork‘s solo band and now Stöner, and he’s one of those drummers you could watch all day. In the mellow rollout of “Tribe/Fly Girl” or in the Ramones cover “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” — which I didn’t see coming but probably should have — it was the drums holding it all together and as locked in as one might expect Bjork and Oliveri to be for having been in bands together over the course of the last 30-plus years, Stöner wouldn’t be Stöner without Güt behind the kit anymore than they would without Oliveri‘s shouts or Bjork‘s ultra-Phil Lynott-style vocal patterning.

There was a new song — I didn’t catch the name and didn’t remember to ask Bjork after the show; it was called “No Brainer,” apparently (thanks Ian from The Heavy Co.) — or maybe two, and in addition to the Ramones, the three-piece took on two Kyuss tracks to close out, starting with “Gardenia,” Oliveri‘s bass fills there worth the price of admission for the entire night and whatever you wanted to spend on merch after, and ending with “Green Machine,” which hell fucking yes I was singing along to. See also “Rad Stays Rad,” “The Older Kids,” “A Million Beers,” and so on.

Because that’s kind of the point of Stöner as I understand it: to find that place where rock and punk are the same and to capture that moment when the songs seem to really become a part of you. They’re right in that it’s the provenance of teenagers — they’re not a full-on nostalgia trip, but their sound is stripped far enough down to be considered a return to roots — but eventually you keep going and someone’s gonna tell you to go ask the older kids. Maybe even the older kids themselves. They’re right up there on stage, swapping vocal lines in an almost conversational style, killing it as they’ve done for the last three decades.

For real, what a show. Even the dude in the Rammstein shirt — not me; mine went in the wash — seemed to be enjoying himself. My big takeaways, aside from the holy-shit-it’s-right-here nature of the night, were that Mario Lalli and the Rubber Snake Charmers were awesome, that I’m glad Stöner are already moving forward with new material, and golly I hope Factory Records keeps doing shows. Even with that blink in the power, the place was very, very cool. I’ve already started thinking of bands I’d want to see play there. Could be good living. Legal weed in Jersey. Spot on the touring circuit between New York and Philadelphia.

Plus you could do like Güt and go snag some Blue Öyster Cult vinyl between sets. Intimate show, laid back crowd but clearly into it, and better sound than you’re probably thinking there was because it’s a record store. Charge more at the door, but hell, think of BYOB as the return on your investment if the concert itself isn’t. It was killer, and that spot, if they play it right, could really, really work as a destination for bands. Here’s hoping.

And I’m glad I waited to see Stöner, because this felt like a special gig in no small part because of the venue, but now that I’ve got the first one out of the way, next chance, I won’t hesitate.

Thanks for reading.

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Stöner Announce Australia & New Zealand Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 8th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

stoner band

Stöner have divided listeners since their inception, from their name to their records, but there’s no question they’re out there working. From the moment it was remotely advisable to tour (and really before that too), the trio of Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri and Ryan Güt have been at it and the thread continues here. They’re in Europe now, will be back in the US for East Coast dates and now announce a first trip to Australia and New Zealand for October and November.

It’d never happen, but I have actual body parts I’d give up to go on this tour. Maybe not an arm, but at least three toes and the top half of an ear. Aus/NZ is the ultimate pipedream, as far as I’m concerned, and Stöner go even as Bjork has a new solo album coming and Oliveri has announced acoustic shows, so yes, getting out, making it work, doing the thing, hopefully pulling in some cash for practicalities like food and recording equipment and so on. Even better, going along are The Rubber Snake Charmers, which as per the poster includes Mario Lalli as well as desert-weirdo-poet Sean Wheeler in the lineup. Should be a party, which if you’re gonna do it is how it’s to be done.

Special heads up, too. They’ll stream their Sept. 1 gig from Reggies in Chicago like a good old pandemic-times wish-you-were-here treat for those unable to show up in person. I’ll take that happily, thank you.

From socials:

stoner aus nz tour


STÖNER with The Rubber Snake Charmers featuring Sean Wheeler

Sat 29th October – Do The Pop Festival VIC
Sun 30th October – The Gasometer Hotel Melbourne
Tues 01st November – Stoner Fest at Singing Bird Studios Frankston VIC
Wed 02nd November – Crown and Anchor Adelaide SA
Thurs 03rd November – La la las Wollongong NSW
Fri 4th November – Crowbar Sydney NSW
Sat 05th November – Mo’s Desert Clubhouse Gold Coast QLD
Sun 06th November – Woolly Mammoth Brisbane QLD
Mon 07th November – The Basement Canberra ACT
Wed 09th November – San Fran, Wellington NZ – ticket link
Thurs 10th November – 12 Bar – Christchurch NZ – ticket link
Fri 11th November- Tuning Fork – Auckland NZ – ticket link
Wed 09th November – San Fran, Wellington NZ – ticket link
Thurs 10th November – 12 Bar – Christchurch NZ – ticket link
Fri 11th November- Tuning Fork – Auckland NZ – ticket link

ART BY : Stevie Gee!!!

STÖNER with special guest Mario Lalli & the Rubber Snake Charmers feat Sean Wheeler have announced a Global Livestream Sept,1 2022 at Reggies in Chicago! The concert will take place Sept 1, 2022 and will be avail on re-watch for 24 hours. Get tickets at

STÖNER current European tour:
stoner aug euro tour
08.08.22 Treviso | Altroquando
10.08.22 Bruson | Palp Festival
11.08.22 Praia da Duna dos Caldeirões | Sonic Blast Moledo Festival
12.08.22 Kortrijk | Alcatraz Festival
13.08.22 Marienthal | Hoflärm Fest
14.08.22 Eindhoven | Effenaar-.-

Brant Bjork – Guitars/Vocals
Nick Oliveri – Bass
Ryan Güt – Drums

Stöner, Totally… (2022)

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Stöner Announce East Coast and Southwest Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 26th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Stöner‘s end-of-summer schedule would seem to be taking shape, as they do a full round of festivals in Europe next month before returning to the US to hit the East Coast and Southwest. Neither tour is the longest the band has done, but fair enough as both are wrapped around festival appearances, with Muddy Roots in Tennessee and Monolith on the Mesa in New Mexico anchoring the lists of dates. The three-piece of Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri and Ryan Güt were among the multitudes this past weekend at RippleFest Texas 2022 as well, and they’ll continue to tour even as Bjork‘s new solo album, Bougainvillea Suite is set to arrive in October on Heavy Psych Sounds (info here). Busy busy busy. If you’re going to do a thing, do it.

I think I’d like to got to the Connecticut show. I put it in the calendar, and that’s the weekend after Psycho Las Vegas, but I haven’t caught Stöner yet, so if my drag-ass ass has yet recovered, I’ll give it a shot.

From social media:

Stoner tour

STÖNER – Aug. & Sept. Tour


Thu 8/25 – Brooklyn, NY – Sovereign
Fri 8/26 – Boston, MA – The Middle East (Sonia)
Sat 8/27 – Jewett City, CT – Prost Bier and Music Hall
Mon 8/29 – Philadelphia PA – King Fu Necktie
Tue 8/30 – Youngstown, OH – Westside Bowl
Wed 8/31 – Ferndale, MI – Magic Mag
Thu 9/1 – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s
Fri 9/2 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
Sat 9/3 – Indianapolis, IN – Melody Inn
Sun 9/4 – Muddy Roots Festival
Tues 9/6 – Virginia Beach – the Bunker

Wed 9/14 – Las Vegas – Soulbelly BBQ
Thu 9/15 – Grand Junction – Mesa Theater
Fri 9/16 – Denver – HQ
Sat 9/17 – Taos NM – Taos Monolith on the Mesa
Mon 9/19 Scottsdale AZ with Eyehategod
Tue 9/20 – San Diego – Brick By Brick

Previously announced European tour:
AUGUST (+ support TBA)
02.08.22 (ITA) Cagliari | CuevaRock Live
04.08.22 (GER) Stuttgart | Universum
05.08.22 (AUT) Innsbruck | p.m.k
06.08.22 (ITA) Monguelfo | Burning Park Festival
07.08.22 (ITA) Bologna | Freakout Club Festival
08.08.22 (ITA) Treviso | ALTROQUANDO
10.08.22 (CHE) Bruson | PALP festival
11.08.22 (POR) Moledo | SonicBlast Fest
12.08.22 (BEL) Kortrijk | ALCATRAZ MUSIC Festival
13.08.22 (GER) Marienthal | Hoflärm 2022 Festival
14.08.22 (NLD) Eindhoven | Effenaar

Brant Bjork – Guitars/Vocals
Nick Oliveri – Bass
Ryan Güt – Drums

Stöner, Totally… (2022)

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Monolith on the Mesa 2022 Announces Full Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2022 by JJ Koczan

monolith on the mesa header pic

Monolith on the Mesa isn’t screwing around. The 2022 edition of the Taos, New Mexico, festival features a welcome-back-to-this-thing lineup that’s as desert as the sands on which it’ll take place and more besides. Ever wonder what Eyehategod and Yawning Man might sound like going back-to-back? Here’s where you’ll find out.

Those two, as well as import acts like Mars Red Sky (from France) and Belzebong (from Poland) will feature, alongside The ObsessedNebulaThe FreeksRed Mesa, StönerRuby the HatchetEcstatic Vision and others. This being the first Monolith on the Mesa since the untimely passing of festival co-founder Dano Sanchez, it’s a bittersweet occasion, but there’s no question looking at the lineup that it’s being executed in a spirit of celebration, both of that life and of the music itself. If you’d dare ask more than that, well, Eagle Twin are playing. Fucking bonus.

Info came down the PR wire, as well as the nifty poster art by Nick Filth:



Artists include Mars Red Sky, The Obsessed, Nebula, Eyehategod, Ruby The Hatchet, Stöner, The Freeks, Mondo Generator, Yawning Man and others

Monolith on the Mesa reveals final poster artwork by Nick Filth and full festival line-up in conjunction with summer solstice. The festival returns to Taos Mesa Brewing The Mothership on September 16th, 17th, 18th, 2022 for three days filled with music, art, and community. Tickets are on sale now HERE. Artists include internationally acclaimed acts such as Mars Red Sky, The Obsessed, Nebula, Eyehategod, Ruby The Hatchet, Stöner, The Freeks, Mondo Generator, Yawning Man and Red Mesa. In the words of belated festival visionary Dano Sanchez fans should get ready for a “weekend of live music heaviness blasting onto the high desert mesa in full view of the Sangre de Christo mountains.”

Roman Barham, festival co-founder and talent buyer says: “I am really excited to have Monolith on the Mesa back! This year’s line-up is a roll over from both 2020 and 2021. We had bands confirmed and then COVID happened. It was cool that so many bands were still down to be a part of Monolith once we got back. What’s really intense about the line-up is how it fits the surrounding high desert environment. With bands like Yawning Man, Stöner, Nebula, Mondo Generator — so many legends of the desert will be jamming. I know Dano would be really proud of the line-up for 2022. Summer solstice connects us deeply with Dano and how he saw the cosmos and life and how they coincide. Out here, we follow the astrological interpretations of the seasons and change.”

“The Mothership will have the same intent,” Jayson Wylie, Taos Mesa Brewing President/Director of Brewing Operations says, “but with a little different feel post reconstruction after the devastating fire we had. We still have two stages, both of them outside. We have transitioned our indoor space to accommodate more beverage production. Customers will notice an enhanced amphitheater with state of the art house PA and lighting. Out here on the mesa, summer solstice signifies a transition to shorter days and hopefully more rain.”

Festival producer Ashley Sanchez says “The summer solstice is the time of year when you start to see the fruits of your labor – financially, agriculturally, in relationships, or otherwise. The solstice reveals if we’re still living in alignment with the goals we set at the beginning of the year. Dano and I worked to live in sync with nature and it’s still very much something I hold in my own center. In honor of this cornerstone of our relationship together and how our family shows up in the world, we chose the summer solstice to announce the complete lineup for the 2022 Monolith on the Mesa festival.”

Monolith on the Mesa is an open air festival focused around the “earthship” amphitheatre which holds 1,500 people. The festival sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and at the edge of the Rio Grande gorge minutes from Taos Pueblo and the Gorge Bridge. Activities in the vicinity include rafting, hiking in the desert or in the mountains, mountain biking, soaking in the natural hot springs, as well as strolling the beautiful and historic streets and plazas of Taos. In founder Dano Sanchez’s words: “It is truly a magical place and combined with awesome music and art it’s like no other music festival.”

September 16th, 17th, 18th, 2022
Doors at 12 noon daily.

Taos Mesa Brewing The Mothership
20 ABC Mesa Rd, El Prado, NM, 87529

Monolith on the Mesa will honor tickets and other arrangements purchased in 2020 and 2021. Tickets will be rolled over to this year’s Will Call list.

Single Day Pass $60 ticket HERE:

Two Day Pass $100 ticket HERE:

Three Day Pass $150 ticket HERE:

Rain or shine event!


Friday, September 16th, 2022
Doors at 12:00 pm
Mesa Stage-1:00-1:45/ Greenbeard
Mesa Stage-2:00-2:45/ Blue Heron
Mesa Stage-3:00-3:45/ Caustic Casanova
Mesa Stage-4:00-4:45/ Red Mesa
Mothership Stage-5:00-5:45/ Owl
Mesa Stage-6:00-6:45/ The Atomic Bitchwax
Mothership Stage-7:00-7:45/ Daikajiu
Mesa Stage-8:00-9:00/ Eagle Twin
Mothership Stage-9:00-10:00/ Belzebong
Mesa Stage-10:00-11:00/ The Obsessed
Mothership Stage-11:00-12:00/ Mars Red Sky

Saturday, September 17th, 2022
Doors at 12:00 pm
Mesa Stage-12:15-12:45/ Via Vengeance
Mesa Stage-1:00-1:45/ Terra Damnata
Mesa Stage-2:00-2:45/ Heretical Sect
Mesa Stage-3:00-3:45/ Love Gang
Mesa Stage-4:00-4:45/ Heavy Temple
Mothership Stage-5:00-5:45/ Year of The Cobra
Mesa Stage-6:00-6:45/ The Otolith
Mothership Stage-7:00-7:45/ Nebula
Mesa Stage-8:00-9:00/ Warhorse
Mothership Stage-9:00-10:00/ REZN
Mesa Stage-10:00-11:00/ Ruby The Hatchet
Mothership Stage-11:00-12:00/ Stöner

Sunday, September 18th, 2022
Doors at 12:00 pm
Mesa Stage-12:15-12:45/ Fever Dog
Mesa Stage-1:00-1:45/ Heave
Mesa Stage-2:00-2:45/ Lilith
Mesa Stage-3:00-3:45/ Communion
Mesa Stage-4:00-4:45/ The Freeks
Mothership Stage-5:00-5:45/ Duel
Mesa Stage-6:00-6:45/ Tabernacle
Mothership Stage-7:00-7:45/ El Perro
Mesa Stage-8:00-9:00/ Mondo Generator
Mothership Stage-9:00-10:00/ Ecstatic Vision
Mesa Stage-10:00-11:00/ Eyehategod
Mothership Stage-11:00-12:00/ Yawning Man

After sundown every evening visual magicians, Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, illuminate the night sky.

Mars Red Sky, Live at Sidéral Festival, May 5, 2022

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