I'm presenting you The Unholy 13, my top albums of the year. It's a totally subjective list and these are only the stoner/doom/sludge/retro rock albums that I consider personal favourites. It was quite hard to make a solid selection out of all those wonderful albums released in 2016. I also wanted to pick more underground bands, so you won't see here bands like Witchcraft or Blood Ceremony. Of course compared to Adele or The Weeknd they are still very underground, but you get the idea, right?
I also want to say thank you so much to everyone who visited my blog. 2016 was a good year for Stoner Mountain.
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Nothing new here, but I just love this album. The overall sound is very Witchcraft/Pentagram-esque, but can you blame them? It's just like Magnus Pelander sang - 'It is the Pentagram. It's got your soul again and you never be free!'. Easy listening and no skipping needed, just press play.
Favourite track: Forsaken
Conan's Revengeance is a beast. Heavy as fuck and extremely slow at times, but also has some well-placed faster moments that brings together a favourable combination of blast beats and doom, which really gets you into a head banging mood.
Favourite track: Revengeance
Another wonderful female fronted doom band. Old Blood mixes a bluesy vibe with psychedelic and doom sounds, creating dense, spaced-out atmospherics. They describe their sound as acid doom and that's probably the best description. Of course, I cannot forget about the soft, beautiful, almost smooth jazz-like vocals.
Favourite track: Taking Refuge with Strangers
Electric Citizen had me in 2014 with their superb debut album Sateen. It was a great, highly energetic mix of 70’s psych rock and vintage doom with hypnotic Siouxsie Sioux-style vocals. Higher Time builds forward on that formula, bringing just slightly updates to their overall sound. The album is more consistent but ultimately not as good as Sateen.
Favourite track: Crux
Bluesy and heavy stoner/doom grooves from the UK. Before The Shore is so thrilling, that it’s hard to believe it’s the product of just three people. The album is chock-full of muscular guitar sounds, powerhouse drums, prominent bass and amazing, clean vocals. There's definitely a Witchcraft and Graveyard vibe.
Favourite track: The Shore
Yes, it's another female fronted retro rock, but they have a unique and refreshing style that will appeal to a broad range of tastes. I just love how Winter Moon transcend many classic rock genres like blues rock, psych-rock, hard rock and it still sounds modern. The songwriting is taut, soaring and shows how a real band crafts their tunes once the writer has penned the initial song. The musicianship is at a high level. Each song is haunting in its own way with the guitars wailing, drums banging, keyboards conjuring melodies and soulful powerhouse vocals. Read the whole review
Favourite track: Wasted With You
The best example why it's good to wait with the 'Best of' list until the end of the year. Psychic Dose's second album was released just 10 days ago. Their music is heavier now, characterized by a more sinister and morbid sound; less 70's proto/traditional doom metal and more 80's doom metal/heavy metal. The production is much better and the vocals...Holy Smokes! The vocals are so fucking awesome. Singer Amanda Howell can touch your soul with her smoky powerhouse voice one minute, then completely melt your face off with passionate higher pitched vocals and harsh screams. Read the whole review
Favourite track: Lycnthropic State
Think of it as Electric Wizard teaming up with Pentagram adding female vocals, a dark, doomy sound played in a funky, rockin' psychedelic way. I'm just addicted to their overall sound and the catchiness of each of their songs. From the hauntingly beautiful vocals to the monolithic riffs. This is exactly how we want all of our records to sound like. Read the whole review
Favourite track: Nightbreed
It was a battle for the fourth place between two Italian newcomers, Haunted and Messa, like a classic Serie A match between Juventus and Roma. ‘Belfry’ is searingly honest and brilliantly uncompromising, but also stuff full of hooks. There’s a lot of diversity present. It's a refreshing take on doom metal taking inspiration from different genres like drone, ambient and industrial. The sound is Heavy, melodic, immersive, trippy. And last, but not least, Sara's voice is beautiful and powerful, to the point of leaving you speechless.
Favourite track: Blood
The child of Electric Wizard and the younger brother of Windhand. They finally established their sound. Yes, it's much softer now, but guess what? They've never sounded better! Pronounce This! is a top notch and surprisingly diverse sounding album, there's even a sweet, laid back country-blues track!
Favourite track: Desire
Another female fronted newcomer on the list. Grajo nailed it with their self-titled debut. These guys have a really groovy Saint Vitus-esque vibe around their sound. Combine this with mountainous riffs and you're in for a ten ton trip. Yes, it's heavy, but very melodic at the same time, with mesmerising dreamy vocals. A perfect combination, very refreshing. Trust me, you'll get addicted in no time. Read the whole review
Favourite track: Magic Eye
The King is dead, long live The King! Because Mountain Dust is like a spiritual successor to Sweden's Graveyard. Heavy, bluesy 70's hard rock with loud, soulful clean vocals that are clear and have a wonderful bluesy tone to them. Nine Years is their full-length debut album and it already tipped Mountain Dust into the big leagues. It's got fistfuls of energy and manages to have an identity of it's own, which isn't easy. The seven tracks on this record contain enough traces of different acid/psychedelic rock, early heavy metal and even some traditional doom to make classic rock fans lose themselves for a few hours.
Favourite track: Running Fool