Hey fuzzers ! I am glad to present you my Top 20 albums of 2019 !
2020 is already on, it is time to build up my second More Fuzz Top 20. Again, 2019 has been passed under perfusion of psychedelic and infectious potions. No easy to pick up and put under the spotlights few disks from a heavy music scene always flourishing. Still, I love the exercise, so here is my top, crafted under Sabbath’s watching eyes and full of fuzzy gems. As usual, I hope it will help you to catch up golden albums you might have missed. By the way, do not forget to check the honorable mentions. Most of them could have been part of the list. Well, it is time to go and check the list… May 2020 be doomed and stoned again !
Top 20 Albums of 2019
20 : Mars Red Sky – The Task Eternal
Beginning this 2019’s top with an already classic band : Mars Red Sky. It has been almost one decade Bordeaux stoner guys rocked the heavy scene in France and even much further. Their fourth album, The Task Eternal, proves again that Mars Red Sky is a worldwide reference in heavy & psych universe. Their last opus displays a great confidence and mastery in combining stunning melodies and thick riffs and bass lines. As years go by, the french band affirms more and more their unique sound signature. So, if is not already done, get in their space vessel now !
19 : King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest
It has been known for a long time that King Gizz’ is full of heavy and metal influences. Many times I have wondered: “Hey, these crazy guys really should record a metal album”. Well, after jazz, microtonal playing, fuzzy frenzy garage and many other experiences, Stu Mackenzie and friends did it. Once again, it is a big success. The album picks the best of classical heavy and thrash metal and mixes all this up together, in the Aussies’ unique way, of course. It seems that nothing can resist to Melbourne band. Once again, their last production reinforces my opinion about them: it may be the band that pleases me and impresses me the most in the recent years.
18 : Red Scalp – The Great Chase In The Sky
First – but not last – Polish band to strike into the top, Red Scalp takes the 18th position. To me, this third long production certainly is their most achieved disk so far. Brighter than previous opuses, the album delivers more mesmeric melodies and Homeric soundscapes. As old wise shamans, Polish quintet cooked up a highly psychedelic potion, a music that sounds like Indian magic incantations, full of epic legends and ancestors voices. An experience that flirts with Heaven and Sabbath temptations at the same time.
17 : The Pilgrim – Walking Into The Forest
From first lyrics, you can recognize Gabriele Fiori’s voice, Black Rainbows’ frontman, releasing here his new solo project. Walking Into The Forest is a delightful invitation to discover his flourishing musical universe. Here, Black Rainbows frenetic space stoner makes room for The Pilgrim sweet and hazy space folk. There is certainly a bit of Kyuss in there. The whole album sounds very personal, almost intimate and there is something really enjoyable in taking part to this acoustic peregrination. The Pilgrim entered heavy & psych galaxie as an UFO. A very peaceful one.
16 : Domkraft – Slow Fidelity
With Domkraft, the truth is that I am personally addict to their music since 2016 and their first LP entitled The End of Electricity. The addiction became irresistible last year with Flood, the second one, which is to me 2018 best psychedelic doom album. It seems that Swedish trio still rocks the hell with the EP Slow Fidelity. Four tracks of corrosive doom, with definitely modern sound structures and textures. They manage to drain the best of current heavy music. Delightful.
15 : The Cosmic Dead – Scottish Space Race
When I was younger, I was crazy about Star Wars’ Podraces. It was the first time I wondered “Hey, it would be so nice that these space races could exist !” So you can imagine, when I saw that The Cosmic Dead released an album called Scottish Space Race, I dropped everything to go and listen to it. Well, that was the right thing to do because this one is a killer album. Glasgow guys offer us a 1h15 hectic space rock with crazy punk spirit that master Hawkwind would have totally approved. The sound is loud, highly-electrified and completely mindfucking. Music for both fearless people and psychonauts. And the funniest album I have heard this year.
14 : Salem’s Bend – Supercluster
Grab your grass and pills and get in the car: it is time to go for a ride through Californian desert with Los Angeles trio Salem’s Bend ! Their second LP entitled Supercluster is an explosive concentrate of classic doom metal (Hi Judas Priest !) and desert rock psychedelia. Every track carries is load of sharp riffs, solos, and hard drumming sections to give birth to a super efficient and easy to listen album. The kind of disk you listen to on repeat without never getting bored.
13 : Karkara – Crystal Gazer
Take Hawkwind, an old shaman from the Amazon forest, and take them to the Middle East in order to record heavy music. I bet the result would be close to Karkara’s Crystal Gazer. When I listened to it first, I did not have great expectations. Well, I took a big slap in my face: French fuzzers stroke hard. In seven tracks, they display a whole bunch of psychedelic influences from punkish space rock riffs to bright oriental melodies. An impressive mastery for a debut album.
12 : Numidia – Numidia
Oriental melodies and atmospheres constitute an inexhaustible source of influences for heavy and psychedelic music. An observation that Australian band Numidia perfectly illustrates. Mixed up with crunchy blues licks from the US South, and progressive compositions, Middle East soundscapes appear to the listener before vanishing as mirages. Numidia works as a soft, warm and contemplative journey. A soulful piece of art as rich as a flourishing oasis in the Sahara desert.
11 : Boris – LOVE & EVOL
When it comes to experimental music, we shall never forget Japan ! Boris, one of their best representatives, was back in October with double album Love & Evol. Once again, they served us a magic pot of trippy psychedelia, reviewing a great variety of rock and metal influences, from shoegaze to drone. All of this recorded on killer label Third Man Records and without forgetting their doomy and fuzzy inclinations. The result remains as noisy and hazy as what they have been doing from last 20 years. Their recipe is unique and still works.
10 : Grotto – Lantern of Gius
And here comes the top 10 with the mighty Grotto. Often referred to as the Belgian Elder, the power trio does not usurp its nickname. Legacy of American masters is easily recognizable in Lantern of Gius : two 14 minutes’ tracks of space jam, regular as clockwork. Complexe electrified soundscapes build up a complete space odyssey. A more epic than contemplative journey as Grotto masters perfectly crushing riffs and over saturated soaring guitar choruses. Not the most expected heavy & psych album of the year… but one of the best.
9 : Taraban – How The East Was Lost
Last son of the super prolific heavy & psychedelic Polish scene (Dopelord, Weedpecker, Spaceslug, etc), Taraban appears as the most promising one. Their first album navigates between stoner rock, classic heavy metal and 70’s psychedelic jamming rock. Add to that a soulful voice, some garage rock sonorities and a great capacity to generate a kind of sweet and sour nostalgic atmosphere, and you obtain a piece of music that breaks through the overcrowded psychedelic stoner scene.
8 : DROID – Hyperreality
In the Australian heavy family, I call the psychedelic stoner-doom band DROID and their dark and psychotic album Hyperreality. The listener is dropped in a hell of fuzz distortion, crushed by waves of punitive and sludgy riffs. More insidious than last Holy Serpent (Endless, still really good), more apocalyptic than Planet of the 8s : Hyperreality seems to have been crafted by Sabbath itself during his last bad trip. Between amphetamines overdose and magic mushrooms delirium, the trip is deep and intense. God damned! I want some more !
7 : Their Methlab – The Last Second
When we think about Greece, we first imagine azure blue water of the Mediterranean Sea, and villages of white traditional houses. But Greece is also lunar-like mountains and dry areas. The travel that proposes Their Methlab takes place in this second type of decor. Soaring melodies play the role of the narrative in a world made of post-rock echoes and psychedelic vibrations. Intensity is perfectly mastered and psychedelia comes and goes, as if the listener were alternating between hazy dreams and a harsher terrestrial reality. Really impressive for a debut album.
6 : Mephistofeles – Satan Sex Ceremonies
Last album I listened to this year… and one of the best. Released on December 23rd, Satan Sex Ceremonies is the unexpected present Mephistofeles discreetly put at the foot of your Christmas Tree. Their unique Black Sabbath low-fi heavy metal sound signature records us once again why Argentinian fuzzers occupy a special place in heavy and psychedelic planet. Riffs are deliberately dirty without neglecting the efficiency of the composition. Above all, Mephistofeles continues to invite us in their eccentric and falsely obscene universe, from the music to the album artwork and visual identity. We never took so much pleasure to listen to such an ironic but talented band.
5 : Elder – The Gold and Silver Sessions
With Elder, expectations are high. Yet, Boston fuzzers always manage to impress me. The Gold and Silver Sessions is no exception. More rooted in psychedelic fusion jazz (Causa Sui style) and krautrock approaches, the EP marks a new evolution in Elder divine quest of new musical horizons. The band takes the listener by the hand for a journey through peaceful unknown galaxies made of floating soundscapes and vanishing atmospheres. Their creativity seems boundless and the execution still is absolutely perfect. And when the journey is over, only remains one thing: the desire to listen their next full length album.
4 : Pseudo Mind Hive – Of Seers and Sirens
Still not convinced that Australian doomed and stoned scene is one the best in the recent years ? I have something you will not resist : Of Seers and Sirens by Pseudo Mind Hive. To me, here is the best psychedelic stoner album of 2019. Melbourne band second baby lacks nothing : ethereal musical structures, corrosive fuzz, crushing riffs, super addictive songwriting and composition. All of this delivered with definitely modern and original music that makes the difference in the super prolific scene that is stoner rock. Simply the album I have the most listened to this year. And I am not done with it.
3 : Los Tabanos Experience – Rise of the Melted Eagle
Have you ever dreamed of discovering the center of planet Earth? If it is your case, you must have read Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the center of the Earth. Or you might have tried some highly psychedelic substances. You know what? There is a third way: listening to Chile masterpiece Rise of the Melted Eagle. One hour and seven minutes of a frenetic and trippy musical exploration of magma oceans and super volcanoes eruptions. 2019 most psychedelic potion made of incandescent fuzz and interstellar riffs. And all of this is 100% jam! Then, only one question remains: are you prepared to travel so far?
2 : PYLAR – Horror Cosmico
It has been a few years Spanish PYLAR works wonders. Dark and enigmatic ones of course. Their new production is made to wake up the dead and corrupt human beings’ souls. Even more apocalyptic than previous opus, Horror Cosmico constitutes their more drone and doom metal-oriented disk. The album is an overwhelming load of haunted walls of noises, pushing always forward our conception of music structures and melodies. Their capacity to create poisonous atmospheres is simply astonishing and will take you the darkest place you have ever visited. It is a suffocating, overpowering and completely insane musical experience. The kind of disk that challenges what we think we know about heavy music. And this is priceless.
1 : Swans – leaving meaning.
Underground heavy music is made of UFOs and insatiable musical explorers. The kind of artists that are never really satisfied of what the musical universe can offer to them, and, as a consequence, always tried to find new ways for musical expressions. Swans and his leader Micheal Gira belong to them and continue their mighty quest of new musical experiences. leaving meaning. perfectly encapsulates Swans demarch : an impressive variety of sonorities and sound structures from heavenly songwrtitings to destructured drone and industrial compositions. The music never stops to disorientate the listener and continually drops him into unexpected areas. Michael Gira and Swans still do not make any compromise and their last production remains unclassifiable as it takes so many different faces. They keep cultivating their deeply artistic personality which consists in always questioning esthetic forms and conceptions of music. leaving meaning. simply is the last and excellent step of the priceless musical work they started in the 1980’s. Avoiding it would constitute a terrible mistake.
AVER – Orbis Majora
Birdstone – Seer
Crypt Witch – Bad Trip Exorcism
Desert Sessions – Vol. 11&12
Duel – Valley of Shadows
El Supremo – Clarity Through Distortion
Gevaudan – Iter
Gorm – Self-titled
Green Lung – Woodland Rites
Holy Serpent – Endless
Monocluster – Ocean
Monolord – No Comfort
Monomyth – Orbis Quadratis
Psychic Lemon – Freak Mammal
Stone Cold Fiction – Strange Times
Stone From The Sky – Break A Leg
Temple of the Fuzz Witch – Self-titled
The Black Heart Death Cult – Self-titled
The Lumberjack Feedback – Mere Mortals
The Well – Death and Consolation
Witchfinder – Hazy Rites