Formed over a love of lo-fi noise and trash aesthetics, New Jersey’s Pyre Fyre began making their own brand of stoner/sludge music in 2019. A pair of digital singles emerged in 2021, with each cementing the band’s commitment to a DIY brand of riffs and distortion. Despite not having the most original sound, there was plenty about the unavoidable influence from ‘Houdini’ era Melvins cutting through the heart of ‘Lobotomy’, especially, that suggested this project came with a great potential.
After spending a couple of years perfecting their riffs and honing a heavy, retro sound, Norwegian stoner rockers White Tundra unveiled their debut EP ‘Graveyard Blues’ in the middle of the 2020 global pandemic. Their weighty Monster Magnet/COC influenced sounds were a perfect compliment to a troubled time, and proved yet again that a tried and tested heavy psych/stoner sound could still impress when delivered with a lot of confidence and a few massive hooks. The title cut, in particular, with its chugging riff, gravelly vocals and rattling bassline – at times sounding as if a direct descendant of ‘Children of The Grave’ – set White Tundra on the road to stoner greatness, but ‘Freedom Fighter’ with its heavy and lurching anger suggested they’d have more to give than your bog standard stoner copyists.
Connecticut duo Turkey Vulture know their way around a glorious noise. On their 2020 EP ‘Time To Pay’, they set out their stall with a collection of riffs that combined the drive of punk with the bottom end of stoner metal, topped with layers of extra fuzz for good measure. A particular highlight, ‘Lost At Sea’ sounded like Motorhead cranking their way through Black Sabbath’s ‘Children of The Grave’ augmented by a sea shanty melody and wonderfully scratchy vocal. It’s fair to say that those who got them, loved them.
The name Spiritu was never stoner rock’s most famous, but the New Mexico band left behind a brief legacy which included a Jack Endino produced album and live experiences shared with Clutch and the mighty Spiritual Beggars. For those who missed the band at the time, it would be fair to suggest that their Kyuss derived sound would be broadly appealing to most fans of that style. Six years on from Spiritu’s second and final recording, ‘Human Failures’, half of the band have emerged from hibernation, making up the core of Blue Heron. Despite being a new name on the stoner scene for 2021, the sounds they make are of a timeless appeal, and ahead of an already completed debut album, this two song 7” gives a fantastic taste of a band about to gain some huge traction with the desert rock diehards.
During the first half of their career, Corrosion of Conformity went through a lot of changes to find their sound. Their early thrash metal releases create a confident noise, but didn’t always utilise the best of COC’s combined talents. 1991’s ‘Blind’ blended thrash with a more melodic stoner feel and brought them to a wider audience due to some great reviews, but was still a hit and miss slab of metal. It wasn’t until the release of 1994’s ‘Deliverance’ that the band unleashed something genuinely classic. Part of the greatness came from a shift into even more melodic territory – the COC sound was now dominated by huge stoner vibes and a very retro groove – but just as important was guitarist Pepper Keenan’s decision to take on the lead vocalist’s role. The fourth person to step behind the COC mic, Keenan’s melodic drawl was perfect for the new sound and on tracks like ‘Clean My Wounds’, when dropping Thin Lizzy-esque riffs into a very desert rock scenario, they finally sounded natural in a way they never had before. The follow up album, 1996’s ‘Wiseblood’, gained even more commercial attention due to an appearance of James Hetfield, but 2000’s ‘America’s Volume Dealer’ absolutely knocked that out of the park performance-wise, even if sales were not quite as impressive. With the new millennium, COC finally gave into their natural instincts and became one of the greatest stoner metal bands on the face of the planet.