When it comes to mining classic influences, Polish stoner rockers Volt Ritual dig deeply on their debut release. Their self titled disc from 2022 takes the mighty Black Sabbath as its root inspiration and takes a very 70s approach to a heavy riff, but the material could just as easily have been recorded in the 90s at a time when Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Roadsaw were at their height. Its seven numbers are crammed with heavy riffs and fuzzy grooves; the production values call back to Rodger Bain’s early no-frills approach, and the band’s overall sound is one that a vast proportion of stoner and doom fans will take to in a heartbeat.
As a band, The Fierce And The Dead have never been shy of evolving. From their noisiest post rock origins, they slowly grew into a melodic juggernaut, mixing heavy grooves and progressive textures on their third album ‘The Euphoric’.
There’s growth and re-invention, and then there’s genre-fluid, which is certainly where the band found themselves during the writing and recording of their fourth LP. Fans got a taste of the “new” Fierce/Dead in May 2022 when the ‘Wonderful’ single appeared on Bandcamp and other streaming services. For the first time, the band shared something song-based with a strong vocal, and for many, that was the biggest change. However, things had also taken an unexpected turn musically with a world of post-punk riffs colliding with the prog-ish experimentation.
Following on from their ‘Let You Down’ single in 2021, Belgian rock band Bar II’s ‘How I Fake It’ EP features a couple of their best recordings to date. Its two tracks are centred around some fairly chunky riffs, but despite being promoted as a “stoner duo”, the best moments branch off into an even spikier sound, often showcasing the musicians in a more inventive way.
British sludge/doom/alternative outfit Sail aren’t the most prolific band, but they’re one of those acts that seem to offer something of genuine interest whenever new music arrives. In August 2021, their two track single ‘Flood’ showcased their knack for massive riffs, but also showed how they could make an almost unmovable sound seem more atmospheric than some of their peers. An accompanying remix actually gave the material a further lift when demonstrating how the original recording had an almost mechanical, semi-industrial feel beneath the riff, and further suggested that Sail’s best material presented far more than a heavy vibe.
At the tail end of 2021, a new stoner band appeared over the musical horizon. Blue Heron were incredibly heavy, and yet conveyed broad atmospheres within their world of darkness. It was clear from their two track debut that they weren’t just another sludgy doom and stoner vehicle hacking out weighty riffs.