Album review: Stöner – Stoners Rule
If Stöner’s name seems a little on the nose, it is. But then, two-thirds of the band – singer/guitarist Brant Bjork and bassist Nick Oliveri – were founding members of stoner rock kings Kyuss and played drums and bass respectively on their landmark Blues For The Red Sun album, with the former sticking around for the equally important Welcome To Sky Valley follow-up. Nick, meanwhile, was the man responsible for the groove on Queens Of The Stone Age’s first three albums. So they’ve got dibs.
Let us shock you: Stoners Rule features big, fuzzy riffs, languid rhythms, a lazy-nod of a tempo, and enough baking California sun to make the Red Hot Chili Peppers think about finding some shade. If you are any kind of stoner rock fan, Stöner are a very familiar hit. But this is a band about the magnetism between the players, the groove, the loose vibe. Taken as such, Stöner are the masters of their trade.
With a two-chord riff and the right thump on the drums, Stöner can paint a desert scene in a couple of bars, before Brant’s vocals have even got their shoes on. His bluesy singing is the perfect, dusty topping to The Older Kids and Nothin’, while the lengthy jams are as fluid and elastic as Black Sabbath in their early-‘70s glory. Like Sabbath, these passages of mellow wigging out are something worth following, losing yourself in.
Stöner are neither original, nor pastiche. It’s just that they’ve been knee-deep in this stuff for 30-odd years, and have grooves running through their bones and jackets that will never lose the smell of weed. That they are still capable of doing something this good with apparently zero effort or fuss is all part of it, man. The name’s on the nose, but the title isn’t: Stoners Rule.
For fans of: Kyuss, Black Sabbath, Orchid
Stoners Rule is out now via Heavy Psych Sounds.
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