Stoner metal, also known as desert rock, is a subgenre of heavy metal that emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The genre is characterized by its heavy, fuzzed-out guitars, slow tempos, and droning, repetitive riffs.

The sound of Stoner Metal is heavily influenced by the psychedelic rock of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the heavy metal and hard rock of the 1970s and 1980s.

Where Did Stoner Metal Come From?

The origins of Stoner Rock can be traced back to as early as 1970, with the release of BLACK SABBATH‘s self-titled, debut album. Complete with it’s sludgy, down-tuned riffs and relentless groove, the first BLACK SABBATH album not only kicked off the genre that we know today as “Heavy Metal“, but also gave birth to numerous sub-genres, including Stoner Metal.

Other bands, like Virginia’s PENTAGRAM, would soon follow, delivering the same psychedelic thrust and fuzz-box driven groove throughout the 1970’s and early 1980s. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the genre began to take shape, with the emergence of bands like KYUSS and SLEEP.

The First Stoner Metal Bands

KYUSS, hailing from California, was one of the bands that spearheaded the Stoner Rock sound. Their heavy, sludgy sound was characterized by its low-end rumble, catchy riffs, and sprawling jams. SLEEP, from San Jose, California, took the genre in a different direction with their use of extended, monolithic songs and mystical lyrics.

Other notable bands that helped to shape the Stoner Rock sound include acts like MONSTER MAGNET, ELECTRIC WIZARD and FU MANCHU, who would all bring their own signature groove to the burgeoning subgenre.

Desert Rock Today

Today, the genre continues to thrive, with bands like BARONESS, ELDER and UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS carrying on the tradition of heavy, psychedelic rock and over the top, down-tuned riffs.

Here are 6 essential Stoner Rock songs that showcase the genre’s heavy, psychedelic sound:

“Green Machine” by KYUSS


Green Machine” is one of KYUSS‘s most iconic songs, and for good reason.

The song’s sludgy, riff-heavy sound captures the essence of Stoner Metal, with its fuzzed-out guitars and thundering drums.

The song’s hypnotic riff and memorable chorus make it an instant classic, and it has influenced countless Stoner Rock bands since its release in 1992.

“God Luck And Good Speed” by WEEDEATER

North Carolina’s WEEDEATER are absolutely essential Stoner Rock listening.

The fact that bassist/vocalist ‘Dixie’ Dave Collins shot off his own toe probably tells you everything you need to about the sludgy trio.

The track “God Luck And Good Speed” crashes through with it’s simplicity, yet continually pounds away at your senses with an all out audio assault.

If you’re looking for that backwoods, moonshine distilling, green haze sound, WEEDEATER is exactly what you are seeking in all it’s glorious, wonderful noise.

“Space Lord” by MONSTER MAGNET

MONSTER MAGNET‘s “Space Lord” is a driving masterpiece that showcases the band’s knack for blending heavy riffs with mind-bending lyrics.

The song’s slow, droning groove builds to a climactic crescendo, with frontman Dave Wyndorf delivering some of his most powerful vocals.

Space Lord” is a perfect example of the marriage between stoner metal, groove driven rock and psychedelia. It may not fall into the obvious tropes which define Stoner Rock as a genre, but it doesn’t have to. Because if there is one heavy metal subgenre that certainly doesn’t abide by “rules”, it’s definitely this one.

“Funeralopolis” by ELECTRIC WIZARD

ELECTRIC WIZARD‘s “Funeralopolis” is a dark, ominous track that perfectly encapsulates the band’s love of all things heavy and doom-laden.

The song’s droning, distorted riffs and eerie, haunting vocals create an atmosphere of dread and unease. So if that’s what you seek, you have found it my friend.

Funeralopolis” remains a testament to the power of Stoner Rock to create a sense of foreboding and tension. Strait up the track is essential listening for those seeking out or just experiencing the genre as a whole.

“King of the Road” by FU MANCHU

FU MANCHU‘s “King of the Road” is a classic stoner metal anthem, with its catchy riffs and sing-along chorus.

The song’s lyrics celebrate the freedom of the open road and the joy of cruising in a hot rod, making it a perfect soundtrack for any Stoner Rock road trip.

The song’s upbeat tempo and infectious groove make it impossible not to bob your head and tap your feet along to it’s hypnotic pummeling. A strait up, feel good crusher of a tune.

“Dopesmoker” by SLEEP

No list of essential Stoner Rock songs would be complete without SLEEP‘s magnum opus, “Dopesmoker.

Clocking in at a staggering 63 minutes, the song is a masterclass in stoner metal’s ability to create massive, sprawling epics.

The song’s repetitive riffs and hypnotic grooves take the listener on a journey through the desert, with the lyrics telling the story of a caravan of drug-addled nomads on a quest to reach the promised land.

Dopesmoker” is a testament to the power of Stoner Rock to create immersive, otherworldly soundscapes.

In conclusion, Stoner Metal is a genre that continues to evolve and thrive, with new bands emerging all the time.

These six essential Stoner Rock songs showcase the genre’s heavy, psychedelic sound and its ability to transport the listener to another dimension.

Whether you’re a fan of heavy riffs, mind-bending lyrics, or just good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, Stoner Metal has something to offer. So put on your headphones, light up a joint, and let the fuzzed-out guitars and thundering drums transport you to a world of heavy, psychedelic bliss.