This year was a prolonged battle for sanity and an absolute slog right up to the end. From getting laid off to enduring the mental marathon of an endless quarantine, all while dealing with folks whose only purpose in life was to make everyone else's more difficult, these are the 15 records that got me through. They will always hold a very special place in my heart.
15. THE PENITENT MAN
The Penitent Man
Not quite doom so much as it is slow blues, The Penitent Man perfectly captures the desert heat as it affects the mind of the religious. I suggest you pack some water for this one, and it's going to be a journey.
Listen to The Penitent Man in its entirety here.
We Are All Atomic
Blues Funeral Recordings
We Are All Atomic launches right into the deepest reaches of space and never comes back. If you're looking for a psych-heavy trip on a riff-fueled rocketship into the vast unknown, then go grab headphones and hit play on We Are All Atomic.
Listen to We Are All Atomic in its entirety here.
Sign of the Devil
Green Plague Records
If Electric Wizard really leaned into the sub-sonic low end of what Monolord does, Sign of the Devil would be the result. Plus this record has a song called "Hail Satan" with a big anthemic chorus and spacey keyboard solo. What's not to love?
Listen to Sign of the Devil in its entirety here.
12. DEMONIC DEATH JUDGE
I had no idea Demonic Death Judge was from Finland. I just assumed they were a bunch of pissed off riff-writers from the South of the United States that listened to too much Weedeater and Corrosion of Conformity, given how The Trail sounds.
Listen to The Trail in its entirety here.
Armageddon Label/Stickman Records
Elder made it no secret with The Gold & Silver Sessions that they were headed into much more keyboard-driven, Krautrock-esque territory. Omens is an extension of that, showcasing the band sounding more complete than ever before.
Listen to Omens in its entirety here.
Holy Roar Records
Close strikes a great balance between contemplative post-rock, furious rock, and churning stoner groove. I'd also like to give a special shout out to bassist Chainy Rabbit and drummer Max Newton for absolutely killing it on this record.
Listen to Close in its entirety here.
9. BRIMSTONE COVEN
The Woes of a Mortal Earth
Get ready to turn the distortion way down and don your black robe, because Brimstone Coven is here to bring you the finest in modern occult rock. Brimstone Coven earns bonus points for constantly having excellent vocal harmonies.
Listen to The Woes of a Mortal Earth in its entirety here.
8. ELEPHANT TREE
Holy Roar Records
Elephant Tree masters their ethereal brand of sky-gazing doom on Habits. Just close your eyes and let the band's all-encompassing fuzz take you away to a desert where there's not a trace of civilization in sight.
Listen to Habits in its entirety here.
7. THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX
Tee Pee Records
The Atomic Bitchwax tones down the shred and ups the retro-rock riffs on Scorpio, possibly in part to new guitarist Garrett Sweeny. It's a refreshing take on the band's usually faster sound, and another entry into their flawless discography.
Listen to Scorpio in its entirety here.
Blues Funeral Recordings
Lowrider is back, baby! After 20 years, the Swedish stoner doom unit returns with an album just as legendary as their 2000 debut. Much like its cover art, Refractions will transport you to another dimension.
Listen to Refractions in its entirety here.
The Great Dismal
Nothing turns up the heaviness on their new record The Great Dismal. This is easily Nothing's crowning achievement, perfectly marrying their usual shoegaze sound with a much crunchier, more aggressive sound. It's also super catchy.
Listen to The Great Dismal in its entirety here.
Fangs Anal Satan
It's almost frustrating how good Boris is as being devastatingly heavy when they want to. No is loud at varying tempos, distorted in all the right ways, and feels like a great callback to their earlier records.
Listen to No in its entirety here.
Sailor Records/Atypeek Music
Modern Ways sounds like a stoner rock band got a little too pissed off one day after listening to newer Mastodon records. If this isn't the record that breaks Abrams to a much wider audience, then the audience was hopeless anyway.
Listen to Modern Ways in its entirety here.
Two Black Eyes
Shiner returns after 19 years with a record that spans everything from dreamy sludge to the punkier side of their sound. Shiner reinvented themselves for their return, and could not have done it better.
Listen to Schadenfreude in its entirety here.
Nuclear Blast Records
We're one year into the decade and we've already got one of the best albums of the decade. Pallbearer consolidated their usual sprawling doom into tighter, gloomy tracks that occasionally let the sunlight peek through the haze. Forgotten Days is a perfect record and a landmark in the genre. Period.
Listen to Forgotten Days in its entirety here.