Metal Chris’ Favorite Doom and Stoner Albums of 2019

I already made lists of my favorite black metal albums (here) and death metal albums (here) of 2019 but with this post we’re going to slow it down with my favorite doom and stoner releases of the year. I use the genre labels pretty loosely here so don’t get too nitpicky and just chill with some of the best slower jams metal had to offer in 2019. They’re not ranked so I just put them in the order of release date. I hope you enjoy my picks and find some new favorites.

Waste Of Space OrchestraSyntheosis
Released April 5, 2019 by Svart Records
Waste Of Space Orchestra is a band made up of the members of two bands from Finland, Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising. Not just a few members, it’s the full roster of both bands combined, including both drummers. The resulting album is something quite unique featuring elements of both bands, Oranssi Pazuzu leans toward black metal while Dark Buddha Rising is rooted more in doom metal, with everything wrapped up in heavy amounts of that spacey vibe they both incorporate.

Sunn O)))Life Metal
Released April 26, 2019 by Southern Lord Recordings
The band Earth created the drone genre but Sunn O))) took it to another level. The duo released two albums in 2019 after 3 years without a studio release, but Life Metal is the better of the two. This extremely slow music that is meant to be played at very high volumes is not for everyone. If you’re looking for riffs there are none. There’s no drums either. The music is more about tone, textures and moods and on this release Sunn O))) shows they’re still the best drone band around.

DuelValley of Shadows
Self-released May 17, 2019
The Sword may have gone on indefinite hiatus but fellow Austin, Texas, natives Duel are clearly trying to fill that void. Valley of Shadows is packed with infectious riffs and catchy vocal lines making it quite hard to pick a single song as a favorite, it’s really that good. This album was self released and digital only, but should be on any stoner metal fan’s radar.

PelicanNighttime Stories
Released June 7, 2019 by Southern Lord Recordings
Chicago based instrumental band Pelican is a bit of an odd ball on this list, they’re not really stoner nor doom but their first release in 6 years is so strong I had to find a way to include it. Sometimes labeled post-metal, I’m not sold on that take either. Regardless, the band has returned with some of the best songwriting of their career, really tightening up their sound. I just hope the next full length isn’t another six years away.

BeastwarsIV
Self-released June 28, 2019
Recorded in 10 days starting just a week after Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde finished chemotherapy treatment, this album has a pain and darkness to it that you just can’t fake. The song “Storms of Mars” is a powerful example of the New Zealand based band’s dark sludgey sound as you hear a powerless man begging for just ten more years so he can watch his child grow up. This was obviously a therapeutic album for a band that was recording in the middle of a healing process, as part of that very process, and it makes IV something really special.

LowFlyingHawksAnxious Ghosts
Released June 28, 2019 by Magnetic Eye Records
This short release covers a lot of ground in just 5 songs. There are slow spacey stoner soundscapes that give way to more straight forward sludge grooves. LowFlyingHawk’s rhythm section includes Dale Crover of the Melvins behind the kit and Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle on bass but it’s the seamless transitions of styles that have kept my attention on this release.

Plague Of CarcosaOcean Is More Ancient Than The Mountains
Released July 19, 2019 by Sludgelord Records
Plague of Carcosa is another instrumental band from Chicago on this list but their sound is more akin to heavyweights like Bongripper and Conan but with an added Lovecraftian spookiness underneath it all. This release is short but the two songs are long, haunting and crushingly heavy.

WaingroIII
Self-released August 16, 2019
Vancouver based Waingro have put out something fun with their third full length. They play a high energy style of crunchy stoner metal but with a singer that does a hardcore style shouted vocal delivery. I know that isn’t something everyone is going to love but it actually fits the band’s sound well.

MonolordNo Comfort
Released September 20, 2019 by Relapse Records
From Gothenburg, Sweden, Monolord play nothing akin to the melodic death metal the city is famous for. Pallbearer changed the game with their debut release Sorrow and Extinction in 2012 and a wave of doom metal bands with clean vocals popped up around the world, including Monolord. Where Pallbearer has moved further away from doom with every release Monolord has stayed the course and instead of rehashing they have evolved the sound even further. They have managed to make an incredible album here with memorable riffs (that riff at about 3 minutes into “Last Leaf” may be the best on this entire list) but are also able to slow it way down into the doldrums that modern doom is known for.

Holy SerpentEndless
Released October 18, 2019 by RidingEasy Records
Australian band Holy Serpent put out a really solid slab of stoner/doom metal with Endless. The catchy, thundering riffs on these jams make the release very accessible to any fan of the genre. Dissonant vocals contrast well with the guitar tone creating a sound that is both fun and quite chill at the same time.

EsotericA Pyrrhic Existence
Released November 8, 2019 by Season of Mist
Esoteric has long been my favorite funeral doom metal band and their first release in 8 years did not change that opinion. The Birmingham, England, based band has put out an impressive amount of beautiful yet grindingly slow and heavy material since the mid-90s with no concern for commercial appeal. Case in point, A Pyrrhic Existence starts off with a 27+ minute long dirge that, while not particularly marketable on the radio, shows the band building up tension to a crescendo masterfully.

SpaceslugReign of the Orion
Released December 6, 2019 by BSFD Records
I’ve really been diving into the world of Eastern European stoner bands the past couple years and Polish band Spaceslug, along with contemporaries like The Re-Stoned, Somali Yacht Club, Bantha Rider and Stoned Jesus, have been proving the area has some of the best bands in the genre today. As you might expect from the title, Reign of the Orion is full of spaced out tunes to help you float away to distant nebulae in your mind’s eye.

Metal Show Of The Week: Pelican

Who? Pelican
When? Saturday, November 2nd
Where? DC9 (map)
How much? $15 cash at the door or on Ticket Fly

I won’t lie, there’s a ton of great shows coming up in the next week (and beyond) on the DCHM upcoming concert calendar. Dying Fetus/Exhumed, Watain/In Solitude, Orange Goblin, Finntroll… but this week’s pick for metal show of the week goes to a gig that’s a bit more obscure. Chicago’s Pelican is headlining a show at DC9 (right by the 9:30 Club, Velvet Lounge, etc…) this Saturday, November 2nd, and if you don’t know who they are you should check come them out. They’re an instrumental band and they’re not particularly brutal by any means. In fact they’re often labeled as post rock, though they did play at Maryland Deathfest back in May. They’re not overly soft like some instrumental bands though, they’ve got some big riffs in there and they really jam out live. They just put out a new album, Forever Becoming, this month and I’m pretty excited to hear them play some material off of it, particularly the song Deny The Absolute.

Pelican isn’t the only band worth seeing on this bill though. Coliseum is from Kentucky’s punk scene though they’re not your typical punk band. Their songs are actually really well put together with riffs that are very catchy. When I saw Coliseum play a Deathfest after show back in May they were super energetic on stage and they should be a perfect warm up set before Pelican. Coliseum will also be selling tour posters for that look like this so bring a few extra bucks to snag one (or some other merch). There’s also a local punk band called Highway Cross opening the show. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of them before but they remind me of Fugazi some. You can check them out here and be sure to listen to the tracks I’ve posted by Pelican and Coliseum below as well. I hope to see some of you at the show, it should be a lot of fun!