An often overlooked Stoner Rock/Psychedelic Rock group hailing from Germany, the Colour Haze trio has been in business since the mid-90s, making them one of Germany’s oldest Stoner Rock acts. Over the years, Colour Haze has proved they can produce: 12 full-length studio albums, three EPs, two live albums, and tons of touring. On average, Colour Haze produces a new album every two years.
The band has established itself as a genuine workhorse—but that doesn’t mean the band puts out great records. What’s most intriguing about Colour Haze is the paradox they’ve built around themselves: They’re simultaneously one of the best and worst Stoner Rock bands in existence.
The Bad: Why Colour Haze Sucks
Anytime you listen through multiple decades of a band’s back catalog, you expect to hear growth. Pink Floyd’s 2014’s The Endless River was a far cry from The Dark Side of the Moon, and The Smashing Pumpkins’ 2018 release, Shiny and Oh So Bright, is vastly different from 1991’s Gish. This sort of development is expected. Over the years, band members mature, new blood replaces old, and the artistic output of the band gradually evolves.
Colour Haze defies that expectation. In fact, if you sit down and listen to the band’s work, you’ll notice Colour Haze has used the same lo-fi production quality since the band first kicked off (it’s bad enough that you can hear someone cough at the beginning of “Get It On” on the 2014 Co2 album). By this point, the tape-quality audio has become part of the Colour Haze trademark.
But what’s most damning about Colour Haze is the repetition. If you were to extract every song from their 12-album catalog, shuffle them, then pull them back out into 12 random assortments, the resulting albums wouldn’t be a whole lot different. They more or less put out the same songs every few years.
Yes, there are some obvious deviations. Chopping Machine, the band’s first album, was a haunting mixture of funk and metal, like what you’d expect the Red Hot Chili Peppers to write if they were contracted to write music for a deadly circus act. 1999’s Periscope was a heavy rock album tinged with doses of eastern influences, similar to fellow German rockers My Sleeping Karma. 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft was also uncharacteristically heavy for Colour Haze, relying much more on thick, fuzzy riffs than the wandering, jangly guitars that have become part of the Colour Haze signature.
But for every deviation, there’s a sharp turn back to Colour Haze’s comfort zone. Take a quick peek at these song bites:
- Outside 0:00-1:10 (from 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft)
- Z.E.N. 3:30-4:15 (from 2003’s Los Sounds De Krauts)
- Love 1:00-2:15 (from 2004’s Colour Haze)
- Aquamaria 1:00-1:30 (from 2006’s Tempel)
- Silent 0:00 – 2:30 (from 2008’s All)
Notice the similarities? Quiet drums, a soft bass, and a meandering guitar that nearly comes across as jazz. Colour Haze has done this on every album since 1998, and it’s become part of their sonic fingerprint. In some cases, Colour Haze will even build songs around these interludes, giving themselves a platform to jump off from as they explore new soundscapes.
It’s hard to ignore Colour Haze’s shortfalls as musicians. But for all their repetition and self-indulgent meandering, they’re still one of the best acts in Stoner Rock, as we’ll explain in our next section.
The Good: Why Colour Haze Rocks
Colour Haze checks all of the boxes for your classic Stoner Rock act: Thick, chugging, infectious riffs, fuzzy distortion, slow- and mid-tempo jams, a shot of Psychedelia, a dash of Metal, and a plume of smoke. With these ingredients alone, Colour Haze has all the essentials for a wonderful Stoner Rock act.
But ingredients alone aren’t enough. It tells a skilled chef (or, in this case, a musician) to make it work. Despite everything we said in the previous section of this article, the Colour Haze template works: The songs are charming even when they feel self-indulgent. In “Tempel,” for example, we hear more than a minute of soft keys and bass before a quiet guitar lulls us through a slow and steady build to the patented Colour Haze wall of noise at the 4:03 mark.
At their best, Colour Haze produces beautiful music. There’s aching, pained expression in “Turns,” a song about loss and depression:
The final refrain is also the most haunting:
“I’m all that’s empty
A hole burning like the sun
Space is all so clear now
And fate won’t come alone
You’re alright, you’re alright, but I can’t help what’s on my mind
So hold me when I fall.”
The band’s eponymous album gives us “Love,” a powerful nine-and-a-half-minute song about respect for your neighbor and the world around you. Like many of Colour Haze’s longer tunes, “Love” takes its time moving toward the crescendo, but when it does, lead singer Stefan Koglek rises into the preacher’s pulpit to prophecy.
Kogleks first words in the song set the stage with some well-crafted imagery:
“I sit myself high upon a mountain top and I look far, far across the hills
I’m so loaded, man, so deep and full, with all the love and all that is real
We gotta cry out and reach out and turn our twisted minds
And feel the connection that is between you and all that is alive
For all their instrumentation, one of Colour Haze’s greatest assets is their lyrics. Stoner Rock isn’t known for lyrical depth, but Colour Haze makes it happen in their second language.
At their hardest, Colour Haze throws down with the best of them. Pick your heaviest tune from Karma to Burn or early Queens of the Stone Age, and compare it to “Pulse” or “Smile 2.”
Final Consensus: Is Colour Haze Worth a Listen?
Yes. If you’ve never listened to Colour Haze before, yes, you should absolutely dig into their catalog. This author just spent nearly 500 words explaining why Colour Haze is sub-par in many ways, but he’s also listened to them on regular basis since he first heard them in 2015. Colour Haze is a worthy band in their own right, and they deserve their perch among the German Stoner Rock elite.