Stoner Rock’s roots go back quite a few decades. The earliest agreed upon instances of Stoner Rock were in Black Sabbath’s debut album in 1969, but we continued to see glimpses of the genre over the next few years: Pink Floyd expanded Psychedelia and Space Rock, Led Zeppelin showed that riffing and jamming could be cool, and Jimi Hendrix opened the gates for experimentation.
Still, Stoner Rock as we know it didn’t really take shape until the early ’90s. Since then, we’ve been blessed with band after band of fresh material, many of them branching out into new, exciting frontiers.
Today we’ll celebrate these bands by looking at a few of the highlights over the last three decades.
Stoner Rock in the 1990s
Quick Synopsis: Kyuss needs little introduction. Their seminal album, Blues for the Red Sun, created a sound that would become a touchstone within Stoner Rock.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Blues for the Red Sun and Welcome to Sky Valley remain highly-regarded albums both in and out of the genre.
Quick Synopsis: If Kyuss kept Stoner Rock in the desert, Fu Manchu hopped into a VW van and drove the genre out to the California beaches.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: It’s hard to pick a single high point for Fu Manchu, but The Action is Go is a good place to start.
Quick Synopsis: Monster Magnet is as radio-friendly as Stoner Rock gets—perhaps even to this day (with some competition from Queens of the Stone Age).
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: The 1998 release, Powertrip, was certified golf back in 1999.
Quick Synopsis: Ah, Sleep. Until they self-destructed by recording Dopesmoker, Sleep bridged that fine line between Stoner Rock and Doom Rock.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Holy Mountain melded riff, brimstone, and groove, straddling both of the aforementioned styles.
Quick Synopsis: We’ve spent plenty of time talking about why Clutch isn’t Stoner Rock anymore, but they were a fuzzy, riffing force to reckon with in the 1990s. While their sound has changed, their influence has never waned.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: You can’t go to a Clutch concert today without hearing someone in the crowd begging to hear “Spacegrass”—one of the most popular songs from Clutch, the band’s second album.
Quick Synopsis: Although we’ve riffed on them for repetition, Colour Haze is Germany’s premier Stoner Rock act.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Colour Haze put Germany on the Stoner Rock map, and they’ve been in business for nearly 30 years.
Karma to Burn
Quick Synopsis: Known for being that Stoner Rock band without a singer, Karma to Burn pumped out three records before disbanding in 2002. They returned in 2010 with the excellent Appalachian Incantations.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Their 1997 eponymous album was the only one to feature vocals—and they only did that to press their first record. Still, their first album remains one of their best.
Stoner Rock in the 2000s
Queens of the Stone Age
Quick Synopsis: Guided by creative force Josh Homme (former guitarist of Kyuss), QOTSA has expanded its sound considerably since the early 2000s. In its first few albums, QOTSA refined the hard-driving tones and textures Kyuss popularized.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Songs for the Deaf. Frequently ranked among the best albums of the decade, Songs for the Deaf was a blend of radio-friendly tunes and intoxicating Stoner Rock.
Quick Synopsis: The band behind “Desert Cruiser” was also once praised by a drunk Josh Homme, who said they were the best band in the world.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: “Desert Cruiser” is a Stoner Rock staple for anyone who loves the fuzzier side of life. They’ve also pushed the Stoner Rock envelope into Fuzz Rock territory.
Quick Synopsis: We don’t listen to a lot of Electric Wizard at Monster Riff, but credit where credit’s due. Electric Wizard took the bluesy riffs of Stoner Rock and made it cool to drench them in witchcraft, ancient spells, and mysterious lore.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: To experience Electric Wizard at their best, reach for Dopethrone and revel in every single moment of “Funeralopolis.”
Quick Synopsis: Known as being one of Sweden’s first and best Stoner Rock acts, the 2000s were Dozer’s heyday.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: 2003’s Call it Conspiracy was marked by uncommon energy and songwriting, a combination that made tracks like “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Rising” two of the group’s most popular songs.
Stoner Rock in the 2010s
Quick Synopsis: Born in Philadelphia and transplanted to LA, Sasquatch actually got its start in the early 2000s. Their 2006 II showed the full extent of their writing chops, but III (2010) remains their standout album.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: We’re cheating on this one a little. Sasquatch started finding their way into TV soundtracks in the second half of the 2000s, and that continued into the 2010s. They’ve been featured on shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter and Sons of Anarchy.
All Them Witches
Quick Synopsis: “Eclectic” is a good word to describe these Nashville rockers. Our Mother Electricity (2012) showed they had fun, bluesy garage chops, and Dying Surfer Meets His Maker pushed them into spacey, acoustic territory.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Dying Surfer Meets His Maker isn’t your typical Stoner Rock fare, but it’s a moving album all the same. Fun note: The band wrote and recorded the album in a remote Tennessee cabin, where they lived for six days.
Valley of the Sun
Quick Synopsis: Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Valley of the Sun frequently blends Stoner Rock with Stadium Rock, Classic Rock, and Eastern influences.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: All of VotS’s albums are stellar, but their first EP, The Sayings of the Seers, is still their best work.
Quick Synopsis: Although they write bangers, Red Fang has always struggled writing albums. So, while their eponymous album featured their first hit (“Prehistoric Dog”), the rest of the album left much to be desired. Still, Red Fang is skilled at pumping out gems.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Murder the Mountains (2011) remains their best effort to date. It’s riddled with standout tracks and it’s a pretty solid listen from front to back—if you like Doom and Sludge as much as you like Stoner Rock.
Quick Synopsis: Inspired by equal parts Clutch, D&D, Philip K. Dick, and Sleep, the Sword delivers riffs wrapped in fantastical tales.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: Although High Country is frequently panned by critics, it’s the band at their best and tightest songwriting.
Quick Synopsis: These Greek rockers burst onto the scene with Super Van Vacation in 2011. Fans latched onto it for “Vidage,” but 1000mods has only produced better, more mature albums since then.
Crowning Achievement of the Decade: “Vidage” is their most popular song (similar to how “Desert Cruiser” is Truckfighter’s biggest track), but 2016’s Repeated Exposure To… was their tightest album.