What is the Definition of Stoner Rock?
“Stoner rock” — it can mean something completely different depending on who you talk to. I like to look at the term stoner rock as a branch of sub-genres that extend into the realms of psychedelic, alternative, metal, blues, and garage rock.
Bands and even albums can differ greatly depending on each bands unique variations of influences and states of mind, and if you look at the lists of genres bands tag themselves with (whether it be on Wikipedia, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Discogs, etc.) the list tends to consist of a combination of around 5-7 different genres that work together to describe a band’s sound.
Legend has it that the birth of the genre happened during those first few moments of Black Sabbath’s “Master of Reality“, where you hear a man (probably Ozzy) coughing his balls off for what seems like an eternity — and if there’s one thing a true stoner knows about it’s exasperated coughing fits after a rather large hit from the bong — so I certainly wouldn’t argue with you if you’re one of those folks who’d classify “Sweet Leaf” as the first ever “stoner rock” track, especially when you take that legendary riff into consideration.
Rolling Stone Magazine however, have given credit to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Sir Lord Baltimore, the latter of whom were dubbed as “the godfathers of stoner rock”. Soundgarden have also shared some of the before-mentioned blame (and glory) for bringing musical integrity and analog proficiency to the otherwise mainstream wasteland of hair-metal and synth-pop that was happening in the late 80’s / early 90’s music scene. To this day “Ultramega OK” is still one of my favourite albums of all time.
Kyuss finally emerged in 1992 from the Palm Desert Scene, and despite alienating and leaving behind a few of their more cynical fans, they successfully brought the genre onto the world stage. That same year San Jose doom metal band Sleep released their sophomore album “Sleep’s Holy Mountain” which branched off and led to an even heavier sub-genre of doom and psych.
Who would you consider the defining “stoner rock” band, and what does stoner rock mean to you? Vote for one of the bands in the poll above, or leave a comment if the band wasn’t included in this list.