Germany isn’t exactly known as a hotbed for Stoner Rock activity. After the California desert, Sweden, and Greece, the world lacks a real capital for Stoner Rock. When you get really deep into the genre, however, you’ll find hidden gems everywhere you look. Mexico City has Acid Alice, Austria has Witchrider, and Argentina has Los Natas.
Then there’s Germany. At first glance, Germany is a fly-over country for Stoner Rock. But when you take a deeper look, there are multiple gems strewn throughout the country that are plenty deserving of a listen.
Founded in 1994, Colour Haze is Germany’s oldest Stoner Rock band. As much as we’ve complained about Colour Haze in the past, we have to admit the truth: We play them regularly around the office. Colour Haze pumps out a blend of Stoner Rock and Heavy Psychedelic Rock that culminates into a charming experience. Having been in the business for so long, they’ve also produced a wide variety of albums. If you want something heavy, listen to Co2 or Ewige Blumenkraft. For something softer and more meditative, try We Are or In Her Garden. Although their sound has evolved slightly over the years, their fingerprint has remained the same. Colour Haze is a sure-deal for retro production quality and a slick layer of fuzz.
My Sleeping Karma
My Sleeping Karma is a special act that deserves more attention—even reverence—than they currently receive. Not exactly Stoner Rock by definition, My Sleeping Karma pulls in tons of Buddhism and Hinduism influences, though, according to the band, those factors are an afterthought. Still, the presence of these elements are pronounced, and they help create a magical, transcendental experience.
Samsara Blues Experiment
Even on the very first listen of Samsara Blues Experiment, one thing is immediately obvious: They are reaching for something well beyond themselves. There is an explosive passion behind their work, as if every note is the band’s last chance at some sort of existential redemption. Like My Sleeping Karma, Samsara Blues Experiment is hard to pin into a single genre (Don’t let the name fool you—this isn’t a Blues band). With their massive, fuzzy breakdowns and guitar heroics, they sound like a hybrid of 1000mods (from Greece) and Kamchatka (from Sweden). If you’re into 10-minute auditory excursions, Samsara Blues Experiment is a great pick. One final impressive note: Although the band sounds like a wave of musicians playing atop a mountain, they’re only a three-piece.
Swan Valley Heights
Like a rocket built from Fuzz and launched into space, Swan Valley Heights burst onto the Fuzzorama label and turned heads with their impressive songwriting chops. Being part of the Fuzzorama label means there are certain expectations: the band is metal, atmospheric, and unique. We love summarizing bands by who they sound like, so we’ll take our best shot with Swan Valley Heights: They’re what you get when you cross Kyuss with Truckfighters and Colour Haze (mentioned above). Not a bad combination by any means. We’re spotlighting “My First Knife Fight” partially because it’s a great track and partially because that’s a terrific song name.
Samavayo is a prolific band from East Berlin. Although they’ve been publishing albums since 2003, they’ve already dropped 13 of them. What’s just as impressive is that the band has toured the world in the process, playing hundreds of shows across Europe and South America. All of this means they make a strong case for overthrowing Brant Bjork as the hardest-working professional in Stoner Rock. Most of their music is a ferocious wall of sound, but there is the occasional track or album that sounds a little different. One Million Things actually sounds like it took some inspiration from Incubus, the popular ‘90s Alt Rock band from the U.S.—a sentence we never thought we would write on Monster Riff. In general, however, Samavayo is a persistent, sludgy Stoner Rock act.
We almost missed Rotor in our research for this article. We were already well-acquainted with Colour Haze, Swan Valley Heights, My Sleeping Karma, and Samsara Blues Experiment, so we spent most of our time making sure we had our details right on those stand-out acts. But, man, we’re glad Rotor came onto our radar. A largely instrumental band from Berlin that’s been around since 1998, Rotor (or RotoR) plays a wide variety of Stoner Rock, even across a single album. Their latest album, 2019’s Ihre Größten Erfolge (which translates into “Your Greatest Success”), is a bold mix of meandering tones. Opener “Abfahrt!” is dark like Black Sabbath but layered like Elder. “Rabensol” is thoughtful and meandering, adding a layer of folksy-twinged Retro Rock to its mix. Then there’s “Drehmoment,” a track that could go unnoticed if it wasn’t for the fact that the guitars sound like a series of thunderclaps.
Fuzzy. Psychedelic. Cinematic. Mindcrawler is one of the reasons we’re currently in the golden age of Space Rock. As we mentioned in our review of their latest album, Lost Orbiter, Mindcrawler starts with a base of Stoner Rock, then spreads on some Doom Metal aggression, then they add in dashes of Psychedelia and references to space travel. It’s enough that you’ll actually feel like your traveling through space with them, especially on “Dead Space” (a Monster Riff favorite). Mindcrawler has only been around since 2016, but we’re hoping to hear much more from them in years to come.