Five Favorite Doom/Stoner Guitar Players

Top 5 Favorite – Doom/Stoner Guitar Players

Heavy music is a fine art, and guitar is the brush that puts the finishing touches on the work. I have been a player for some years now, and I am forever gaining inspiration from many bands and genres. Doom and Stoner are my go to styles of rock, and many players influence my guitar playing. I have chosen four players and one guitar team as the guitarists that have influenced me the most over the past few years. I have had the opportunity to see these bands/artists play, and they are among the biggest reasons music burns in my soul. In no particular order, here are my five favorite Doom/Stoner Guitar Players

Matt Pike (Sleep, High On Fire) When it comes to bottomed-out, guttural riffs, Matt Pike is a beast. His current band, High on Fire, is a force to recon with as they continue to make heavy duty albums. Always shirtless on stage, Pike was also part of seminal stoner metal forefathers Sleep. He is also responsible for the constant ringing my ears. I got a little to close to the stage during a HOF show a few years ago.

Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity, Down) As part of arguably my favorite band Down, Pepper is responsible for some of the riffs that get stuck in my head every day. He has been part of Down and C.O.C. for twenty five years, and has even done a little jamming with Metallica. Also the lead vocalist for Corrosion, and a New Orleans bar owner, Mr. Keenan is quite a renaissance man. Not to mention, one hell of a guitar player.

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell) I would go to hell if I did not include the legendary guitar player for the original doom band, Black Sabbath. Iommi drop-tuned his guitar to make the strings loose, and subsequently easier to player with his severed finger tip. Out of necessity, a new genre of music was born. He does not jump around on stage or play fifteen minute solos. What Iommi does do is play riff after riff of songs that changed the landscape of music. He sold his soul for rock n roll.

Buzz Osborne (Melvins, Phantomas) Without Buzz Osborne and the Melvins, our generation may have not seen Nirvana, or a lot of grunge bands of the time. With dozens of studio albums under his belt, “King Buzzo” is a diverse and intense musician, whose influence can be heard through out the scene. The Melvins have been a constant in a forever changing world for almost thirty years, and it is always refreshing to hear new material. A friend of mine once touched Buzzo’s arm at a show. Buzz gave him a menacing glance and walked away without saying a word. It was terrifying, but brilliant.

J.D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt (The Sword) Age of Winters and Gods of this Earth are two of my favorite albums of the last ten years, with some of the best guitar riffs to match. I love this band, and see them every time they come to town. Cronise and Shutt are an amazing team that are both equally responsible for the guitar groove of the Sword. The sound of the band is evolving, but the first two Sword albums will always have an impact on my own sound. Give a couple dudes a Les Paul, and amazing things can happen.

T.

Riff of the Day 10/02/15 DOWN – Witchtripper

Down

Down – Witchtripper (from the album Down IV Part One ‘The Purple EP’, Down Records, Roadrunner Records 2012) The riff created by guitarists Pepper Keenan and (former member) Kurt Windstein (Crowbar) can only be described as “heavy duty”. Down took a five year break from recording before returning with Down IV. The album instantly became one of my favorites. Keenan is someone I admire and his style influences my guitar playing, and this album is full of emblematic Down songs to inspire. Just like the song, the video for Witchtripper is bad-ass. It has an old 1960’s Mario Bava vibe going on. New Orleans is home to some amazing doom/sludge bands, and Down are the overlords of NOLA scene.

Riff of the Day 09/20/15 Atomic Bitchwax – Hope You Die

Atomic Bitchwax – Hope You Die (from the album Atomic Bitchwax I, 1999 Tee Pee Records/Meteor City) New Jersey’s Atomic Bitchwax is a little bit of all things good. Take a little stoner rock, some 1970’s guitar rock, and a dash of psychedelic for flavor. Wrap it all up in progressive rock shell, and that’s a tasty dish. These guys are still going strong, and always touring. You can’t keep a good band down. I have yet to see The Atomic Bitchwax live, but you can bet I will be there if they ever decide to venture up this way.

Riff of the Day 09/18/15 Sheavy – Virtual Machine

Sheavy – Virtual Machine (from the album The Electric Sleep, 1998 Rise Above Records) If Black Sabbath and Kyuss had an offspring, the song is what would come out of the womb. Sheavy is from St. John’s, Newfoundland and formed in 1993. The riff in Virtual Machine has an almost hypnotic quality, and the huge chorus makes the this song heavy duty. Sheavy is only one of the amazing stoner/sludge/doom to call Canada home. True north; strong and heavy.

Riff of the Day 09/13/15 Orange Goblin – Quincy the Pig Boy

Orange Goblin – Quincy the Pig Boy (from the album The Big Black, Rise Above Records 2000)  Orange Goblin is one of the best UK bands to represent the heavy end of rock. I saw these guys perform twice now, and I am impressed by their all-round show. Singer Ben Ward is a 6’5″, charismatic hulk of a man, and the rest of the band are tight and lose at the same time. Right from the wah pedal heavy lead in riff, Quincy the Pig Boy is something that grabs your skull and shakes it.

Cool Fact – Before choosing the name Orange Goblin, the band was known as Our Haunted Kingdom. A pretty cool name, but not near as bad-ass as on the one they go by now.

Top Five Favorite Doom/Stoner Debut Albums

Everybody band has to start somewhere. Some take years to polish their sound before they record their first album. Some bands hit the ground running. In either scenario, you don’t always get a gem on your first try. For some bands, they smash it out of the park their first swing, and capture gold. Look at Gn’R. They made the greatest rock n’ roll record of all time, raw and relentless. Then they imploded. That is a whole discussion for another time. Today I share my top Doom/Stoner band debut albums. I’m sure you won’t agree with a few of my choices, but that’s the fun of it all.  I can’t really decide on a ranking for these five albums. It was hard enough to pick five. So, in no particular order…

Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age (Ipecac, 1998) What do you do if your ground breaking band Kyuss disbands? If you are Joshua Homme, you find a few other musicians and record QOTSA’s self-titled debut. This band has become my favorite over the past decade, and this record still stands up seventeen years later. The riffs drone out and create a total robot-rock feel. Homme proves he has some great falsetto singing chops as well. Listen to: If Only, How To Handle A Rope

Down – NOLA (Electra, 1995) It is hard to believe that this album is twenty years old this year. Pepper Keenan and Phil Anselmo wrote this album of the course of 5 years. The music is heavy and dirty and the lyrics are personal and dark. New Orleans has an amazing history of Doom and Sludge metal, and the members of Down borrowed a little inspiration to bring this amazing record to life. Listen to: Stone the Crow, Bury Me In Smoke

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (Vertigo, 1970)  What kind of list would this be if it didn’t have this album as part of the list. The word influence cannot even describe the effect that these lads from Birmingham have had on heavy music for the past 45 years. The title/opening track is still one of the darkest riffs ever played. Tony Iommi created the heavy guitar sound out of necessity as the result of a factory accident. He lost a couple of finger tips, so drop tuning the guitar made it easier to bend the strings as he played. This created his ominous, heavy sound. Listen to: The Wizard, N.I.B. (Nativity in Black)

The Sword – Age Of Winters (Kemado, 2006) It is almost embarrassing to admit that the first time I remember taking notice to The Sword was on the game Guitar Hero II. The song was Freya, and I was blown away by it. I went out and bought the album and listened to it for the better part of the summer. The album is well balanced and the guitar work from J.D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt complement one another perfectly. The riffs are huge, as they should be. These boys are from Texas. Listen to: Barael’s Blade, Winter’s Wolves

High On Fire – The Art of Self Defense (Man’s Ruin, 2000) Stoner rock giants Sleep mad some amazing material, but all good things must end. Guitar player Matt Pike formed High on Fire after his departure from Sleep, and took the musical style into a harder, more aggressive direction. Pike, along with drummer Dez Kensel and bass player George Rice (now former member) recorded The Art of Self Defense. From the opening song Baghdad, you get hit with a wall of riff and sound. After you listen to a High on Fire album you need to sleep it off, because you feel like you just got your ass kicked. Listen to: Fireface, Baghdad

T.