|Stylistic origins||Heavy metal, psychedelic rock, blues rock, doom metal, acid rock, grunge, hardcore punk, punk rock|
|Cultural origins||Early 1990s, California|
|Typical instruments||Electric guitar (often using fuzz, phaser, flanger etc) – Bass guitar – Drums|
|Mainstream popularity||Regional success during the 1990s, some global success during the 2000s (decade).|
|Palm Desert Scene|
Stoner rock or stoner metal is a subgenre of heavy metal, combining elements of psychedelic rock, blues rock, traditional heavy metal and doom metal. Stoner rock is typically slow-to-mid tempo and features a bass-heavy sound, melodic vocals, and 'retro' production. The genre emerged during the early 1990s and was pioneered foremost by the Californian bands Kyuss and Sleep.
The descriptor "stoner rock" is thought to originate from the title of the 1997 Roadrunner Records compilation Burn One Up! Music for Stoners. Desert rock is also used somewhat interchangeably as a descriptor, and was purportedly coined by a MeteorCity Records intern, sometime around the time the label released the 1998 stoner rock compilation Welcome To Meteor City.
Due to the similarities between stoner and sludge metal, there is often a crossover between the two genres. This hybrid has traits of both styles, but generally avoids stoner metal's positive atmosphere and its usage of psychedelia. Bands such as Bongzilla, Weedeater, High on Fire and Electric Wizard have been reported to fuse both styles.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
Like most subgenres of music, the origins of stoner rock are hard to trace and pinpoint. Nevertheless, stoner rock has its known progenitors and signature songs that helped shape the genre. Blue Cheer is considered one of the pioneers of the style, as Allmusic author, Greg Prato, put it, "When talks about 'stoner rock' come up, one band that tends to get overlooked is Blue Cheer." Piero Scaruffi has stated that the band's first album, Vincebus Eruptum, "introduced a terrifying sound (deafening guitar and bass amplification), that predated stoner-rock by 25 years." Rolling Stone claims, "What stoner rock delivers, slowed down and magnified, is the riff, the persistent legacy of Mississippi blues. Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were the first to make a monolith of it." Sir Lord Baltimore have been called "the godfathers of stoner rock" and Leafhound have been cited for influencing countless bands in the stoner rock movement including Kyuss and Monster Magnet. Primevil's album Smokin' Bats at Campton's has been called a "touchstone" of stoner rock. Jim DeRogatis has said that stoner rock bands are "reaching back for inspiration to the psychedelic, proto-metallic jamming of bands like Cream, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Hawkwind." According to DeRogatis, the roots of stoner rock can be heard on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality, Hawkwind's 25 Years On 1973-1977, the aforementioned Blue Cheer's album, Deep Purple's Machine Head and Blue Öyster Cult's Workshop of the Telescopes.
Allmusic summarizes this fusion as follows:
Stoner metal bands updated the long, mind-bending jams and ultra-heavy riffs of bands like Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Blue Öyster Cult, and Hawkwind by filtering their psychedelia-tinged metal and acid rock through the buzzing sound of early Sub Pop-style grunge.
However, Josh Homme and John Garcia of the seminal stoner rock band Kyuss shrugged the heavy metal influence, and instead cite punk rock and hardcore punk. In particular the sludgy hardcore of Black Flag's album My War.
Releasing their first album in 1988, Soundgarden have been called the standard-bearers of stoner rock during the 1990s. During the early–mid 1990s, a number of Californian bands developed the style that would be called stoner rock. In 1992, Kyuss emerged from the Palm Desert Scene with Blues for the Red Sun, which is often regarded as the first stoner rock/metal album. Critics have hailed it as "a major milestone in heavy music," while NME described their music as an attempt to figuratively melt "a hundredweight of hot desert sand into metal". In 1992, San Jose doom metallers Sleep released their album Sleep's Holy Mountain. It became a favourite of the heavy metal press and the band was heralded, along with Kyuss, as leaders of the emerging stoner scene. These two bands were the first to introduce a "trippy" groove to their doom-influenced sound. During the same year, New Jersey's Monster Magnet released their debut album Spine of God, which displayed fewer metal influences but was psychedelic and sludgy, in the vein of their Californian peers. In 1994, San Francisco's Acid King and Britain's Acrimony released their debut albums, both of which adopted this psychedelic approach to doom metal. The latter are regarded as pioneers of the British stoner scene, which has since seen the rise of notable bands such as Orange Goblin.
Kyuss broke up in 1995, with many of the members going on to form new projects with stoner rock traits.
In 1997 Roadrunner Records released the stoner rock compilation Burn One Up! Music for Stoners, which included tracks by bands such as Fu Manchu, Celestial Season, The Heads, and notably a track by a new band named Queens of the Stone Age, which included former Kyuss member Josh Homme.
In August 1997 Josh Homme founded The Desert Sessions in Joshua Tree, California. The Desert Sessions are a musical collective series, and the first rendition included members from Monster Magnet, Goatsnake, earthlings?, Kyuss, and Soundgarden. The result of the session was Volume 1: Instrumental Driving Music For Felons. Over the years artists such as Brant Bjork, PJ Harvey, Dean Ween and many others from the Palm Desert scene have contributed as songwriters and musicians.
In September 1997 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jadd Shickler (of stoner band Spiritu) and Aaron Emmel founded the online store called All That's Heavy, which sold hard-to-find releases of Kyuss, Monster Magnet, and Fu Manchu. They soon expanded the catalog to include artists that stylistically fit with the first three bands. After half a year they were contacted by the former proprietor for the first Kyuss fan website, who recommended All That's Heavy do a compilation of unsigned bands that Kyuss fans would enjoy. The result of the suggestion was the formation of MeteorCity Records and the release of the compilation Welcome to MeteorCity, which was released in May 1998. The compilation included established desert and stoner rock acts, including new bands established by John Garcia of Kyuss, Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet, and Pete Stahl of Goatsnake. The album was the first time that the new stoner rock bands Sixty Watt Shaman, Lowrider, The Atomic Bitchwax, Dozer, Goatsnake, Drag Pack, and Los Natas were heard on a record. According to MeteorCity founders,
"When this was happening, there wasn't really a [stoner rock] scene yet, there were just a lot of people around the world who were still sad about the end of Kyuss, as well as the end of Slo Burn, and who listened to stuff like Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu but wanted more. The label took off when we appeared with Welcome To Meteor City, as though the world was waiting for someone to do what we were doing."
The label soon signed a number of musicians and bands from the Palm Desert Scene of desert rock, such as Hermano and Unida, both featuring former Kyuss frontman John Garcia. Swedish stoner rock bands such as Lowrider, Dozer and The Mushroom River Band were also signed to MeteorCity and exported.
The Atomic Bitchwax which features Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell, and the The Hidden Hand and Spirit Caravan and led by Obsessed/St. Vitus guitarist Scott "Wino" Weinreich began to gain in popularity.
As the scene continued to develop, the popular website StonerRock.com was launched in 1999. The website became a central community hub for heavy music artists and fans.
In June 2000, Josh Homme's new project Queens of the Stone Age released their breakthrough album Rated R, which helped bring the stoner rock sound into the mainstream. Songs for the Deaf, their next release in 2002, cemented the genre's popularity, with a single from the album peaking at #1 on the US Modern Rock Tracks.
Another label focusing on the international stoner rock scene was Small Stone Records, which released a number of compilation albums of stoner rock bands doing covers of 1970s music, including Right in the Nuts: A Tribute to Aerosmith (2000), Sucking the 70s (2002), and Sucking the 70's - Back in the Saddle Again (2006).
In 2002 the Orquesta del Desierto was formed featuring key members of the major desert rock bands, and released two albums.
Since Kyuss' break-up, the success of the bandmates' other projects has caused the Kyuss back catalogue to become more widely listened to and their fanbase has inevitably swelled. The sound has been continued on by directly descendant bands Unida, Slo Burn, Hermano, Mondo Generator, Fort, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork and the Bros, and at times by Queens of the Stone Age, who have since largely departed from Kyuss' stoner rock sound, and reject the label, preferring the term "desert rock".
In the fall of 2011, the Swedish band Mustasch broke through in Scandinavia and Central Europe for the second time with the hit "The Challenger", which has become a North-European phenomenon, and has sold over five million copies of their new album Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven, just in the three months after its release.
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