Wassup Fuzzers: what a year! First time I, Mr. Chumbo, am doing this list for More Fuzz, so expect quite a lot of variety and genres along it. Stoner, doom, sludge and heavy psych are well represented by the top bands and the ones in the Honourable mentions, classified by Fat, Purple Haze and Temperature Levels. Anyway, you will find a bunch of other stuff not so related to those genres that I have found absolutely fascinating this year. I hope you find something enjoyable!
Top 20 Albums of 2019
20: Red Scalp – The Great Chase in the Sky
I admit this: if Red Scalp’s last record (recently reviewed by Mr. Witchfinder) was released earlier in the year, I could have listened to it more and it will have probably climbed in this list. Anyway, another wonderful jazz-infused stoner record by these reliable Polish Indians.
19: Torche – Admission
If you miss Mastodon’ or Baroness’ first records, you already probably know these Miami guys. In their last record they enhance their proggy sludge metal by mixing it with their natural and subtle sense of pop melodies. With this move, they prove themselves to be a fresh relief for the subgenre.
18: Deathchant – Deathchant
One of the first remarkable releases of the year, Deatchant’s homonymous debut is a simple and great sabbathy delight. Specially recommended if Ty Segall’s Fuzz is one of your landmark bands. Pure fun, and so short it leaves you wanting more, every single time.
17: Horseburner – The Thief
After signing for Ripple Music, Horseburner gifts us with a 24 carat gold record full of long and aggressive progressions, old-school epicness (a bit like that of Khemmis) and an almost doomy groove. Another glorious chapter in the stoner metal meets sludge section.
16: The Devil and the Almighty Blues – TRE
By now, one should already what to expect from The Devil and the Almighty Blues. So, it comes as no surprise that these Norwegians’ third record is another top-notch display of stoner-blues filled with catchy songs. Just as good as their first, and probably better than the second one.
15: Ecstatic Vision – For the Masses
Steamy and psych-y rock and roll à la Hawkwind. What else do you need? These guys are absolute beasts on the stage, and on this record they have been able to bring that fury to their studio sound better than ever before.
14: El Altar del Holocausto – –IT–
If you mix canonical, instrumental post-rock with doom metal and Christian imagery, you would not expect the result to be as good as El Altar del Holocausto third LP, -IT-. Beyond their costumes, the guys are great musicians and one of the most impressive bands in Spain.
13: Green Lung – Woodland Rites
I know, I know. “Not a single doom/stoner list without its occult-rock, witchy-inspired, record?”. I tried not to include it, but Green Lung’s long debut (after their EP “Free the Witch”) is too good to be dismissed as a cliché. Amazingly done and incredibly pleasant stoner/doom: beware, because these woodland rites will get you totally enchanted.
12: Lingua Ignota – CALIGULA
Definitely, not an easygoing choice. Christine Hayter, aka LINGUA IGNOTA, punches your stomach in her third record with a collection of the rawest songs of the year. The relationship between an abuser and his victim is so graphically and sonically relived, from the point of view of the latter, that the result is just as hard to swallow as admirable.
11: Black Mountain – Destroyer
Black Mountain are pure rock’n’roll. Whether they stick to vintage, psychedelic hard rock as they did in the past, or twist towards synthesizers filled lands like the ones in this Destroyer record, they display the same boogie level that just makes them simply irresistible.
10: The Dry Mouths – Memoires from Pines Bridge
After the tragic death of their bassist, these Andalusian desert rockers have released not one, but two great records this year (the other being called Lo-Fi Sounds for Hi-Fi People). That being said, it is this album which really left absolutely speechless with its blend of sweet stoner rock and instrumental space rock. Fans of Yawning Man, Causa Sui or Yuri Gagarin, please check this out.
9: Stonefield – Bent
Stonefield have been hardening their psychedelic rock over their records. The last one, called Bent, is one of the purest and best stoner rock albums of this year, if not the best. These Australian sisters even manage to add a keyboard to their sound without losing a tip of their rotundity.
8: Pijn & Conjurer – Curse These Metal Hands
Imagine an Explosions in the Sky record that will eventually evolved into a Pallbearer one, with some menacing roaring included. That, added to a highly emotional overall tone, is the product of the happy collaboration between Pijn and Conjurer. We want more of this, gentlemen!
7: Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work
The ingredients for the least known record of this list are: thick noise-grazing-sludge sound, garage punk heart, meaningful and sharp lyrics, sung from the gut by singer Sinead Young. A hidden and surprising treasure forged between two opposite ends of United Kingdom like Glasgow and Brighton. But, as they sing, some things (the good ones) take work.
6: Kadavar – For the Dead Travel Fast
Some years ago Kadavar became the kings of European psych hard rock. After that they released a terrific doom metal album. But because they are tireless and insatiable, they have now turned their gaze to Transilvania, land of vampires. From there they bring this vintage goth-rock gem, darker than ever yet as groovy as Dracula dancing to Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
5: Adrift – Pure
I swore not to mention Isis and Neurosis anymore when talking about this sludgy post-metal genre, but it is almost impossible. Their shadow is as long as their legacy and the list of their mediocre copycats. Yet, bands like Adrift are the rare exception to the rule: their sound and riffs are as brutal as compact, while adding vocals in the best black metal way.
4: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Infest the Rats’ Nest
In case you’ve been living in Mars or Venus for the last year, you should know that the craziest Aussies around have gone full thrash metal (with a bit of Sleep essence) in their 15th LP. That anticipated turn has revealed as much more than a joke, and the result is the most fun record of the year. Without a doubt, The band of the 10’s.
3: Inter Arma – Sulphur English
If nowadays heavy metal scene was fair and open-minded, Inter Arma should be by now headlining big festivals. It is not, though, but that doesn’t help these five Oregonian from keep releasing astonishing blends of sludge, doom and black metal in the shape of epic, immense records. This time they do it even more upbeat and in-your-face, yet as monumental as in the past. And what a cover.
2: Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis
After black space metalheads Oranssi Pazuzu released some of the best records of the last decade they joined forces with members of Dark Buddha Rising, some Finnish countrymen, to play in the awesome Roadburn festival. Luckily, the result of that historical gig has been re-recorded in the studio and it is a genuine masterpiece. Psychedelic riffs, shamanic drone metal, hypnotic doom atmospheres, death growls, obsessive krautrock… The list of elements present in this heavy metal milestone is basically endless, so better dare to listen to it for yourself.
1: Cult of Luna – A Dawn to Fear
Why so many called “atmospheric sludge metal” records have occupied the AOTY lists? Maybe this subgenre is more flexible and malleable than others, and allows bands to innovate more, broadening the limits of the style. Cult of Luna have not needed much of that, though, to release the best metal album of the year.
Post-metal as always, heavier than ever, but adding some elements here (that almost electronic rhytm in “Nightwalkers”) and there (that crescendo in “Lights in the Hill”) to make the record outstanding even for outsiders. The beauty and the greatness of A Dawn to Fear resides in their elegant control of knowing when to punch, and when to caress.
By Fat Level
Esoteric – A Pyrrhic Existence
Monolord – No Comfort
Goatess – Blood and Wine
Primitive Man/Hell – Split
The Well – Death and Consolation
By Purple Haze Level
Solar Corona – Lightning One
Spidergawd – V
Monkey3 – Sphere
Blackwater Holylight – Veils of Winter
Bright Curse – Time of the Healer
By Temperature Level
Oh Sees – Face Stabber
Amyl and the Sniffers – S/T
Zig Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive
High Reeper – Higher Reeper
Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Highest and Most Balanced at the Three Levels:
Nebula – Holy Shit
Top Concerts of 2019
Cult of Luna @Resurrection Fest, Viveiro, SP
OM @SonicBlast Moledo, PT
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard @Razzmatazz, SP
Sleep @Apolo, Barcelona, SP
Windhand @SonicBlast Moledo, PT
Low @Caja Mágica, Madrid, SP
The Soft Moon @GetMad!, Madrid, SP
Earthless @SonicBlast Moledo, PT + @Kristonfest, Madrid, SP
Inter Arma @Gruta 77, Madrid, SP
Kadavar @Kristonfest, Madrid, SP
The Ocean @Resurrection Fest, Viveiro, SP
Godspeed You! Black Emperor @But, Madrid, SP
Truckfighters @Gruta 77, Madrid, SP
Deafheaven @Shoko, Madrid, SP
El Altar del Holocausto @Aguere, Tenerife, SP + @Nooirax Fest, SP
Nebula @Caracol, Madrid, SP
Motorpsycho @GetMad!, Madrid, SP
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets @Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid, SP