The Best Sludge / Stoner Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2017


1.  Elder - Reflections Of A Floating World 209
2.  Ufomammut - 8 48
3.  Primitive Man - Caustic 44
4.  Tombs - The Grand Annihilation 42
5.  Altar Of Betelgeuze - Among The Ruins 41
6.  Celeste - Infidèle(s) 33
7.  Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand (write-in vote) 31
8.  In The Company Of Serpents - Ain​-​Soph Aur 14
9.  Santo Rostro - The Healer 11
10.  Battle Hag - Tongue Of The Earth 9
11.  Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe (write-in vote) 4
  Fange - Pourrissoir 4
Total votes:
524



Altar Of Betelgeuze is a criminally underrated melting pot of stoner, doom/death and sludge from Finland. Among The Ruins features soaring clean vocals and guttural growls that coexist with slow and grinding riffs and a crushing guitar tone aiming to tear into your ears. The more melodic parts combined with a chugging bass offer some respite, until brutal distortion takes over again in this highly recommended release.

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Simple, sweet, and awash in ceaseless seas of distortion-guzzling stoner doom - that's Battle Hag, a band whose sound is as warty and fuzzy as the ugly crone that that name puts us in mind of. Tongue Of The Earth is pretty by-the-books when it comes to the stoner shtick - you'll know what to expect if you're aware that stoner doom is a genre of music - but that shouldn't stop you from slowly sinking into the welcoming pit of bass and feedback this album produces.

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Celeste returns with yet another asphyxiating and demoralizing album. This relentless group has not changed that much since their debut EP came out ten(!) years ago. But let's face it: When the band puts you in such emotional distress with an unmatchable and impenetrable wall of black/sludge/hardcore, why would you even dare to complain? Go ahead and discover that heartache has rarely sounded this violent.

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Despite being a stoner metal album that's over an hour long, Elder manages to write such an amazingly dynamic album that, regardless of its length, no part of it feels recycled. The prog rock infusions make these long jams as tasty as can be. An album with an incredible flow.

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There's been a steady emergence of a formidable sludge scene in France this decade, and Fange are a band standing at its forefront. There's no "sophomore shlump" with Pourissoir. This is one of those sludge albums that does a wonderful job at reminding us of the hardcore side of the music, as here Fange mix things up excellently between painful, crushing doom on the one hand and more upbeat, moshpit-inducing riffage on the other. A "less is more" type band that continues to get the job done, and one to keep watch for in the future.

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The twangy reverb and whisper-like croaks with which In The Company Of Serpents convey their doom-filled intentions have such a strong American Deep South flavor to them that Ain-Soph Aur is almost a work of blues or even folk metal as much as it is brutally thick sludge metal. Juggling heavy odysseys of raw distortion with acoustic interludes was a fortuitous decision, as the contrast not only furthers the comparison to genres largely untapped by the metal scene, but it gives Ain-Soph Aur a much broader variety of flavors and breaks up what could be a potentially monotonous plod. This is mystical and hazy, but also roots-oriented and colorful.

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Ethan McCarthy and company are back and sounding as inhuman as ever, if not even more so than before. Painful and agonizing, but nonetheless incredibly satisfying if you're looking for a pounding, this one brings the juggernaut in full force. There's great alternating between sludge and black metal riffing, Ethan's monstrous vocals, and a thick mammoth of a rhythm section to boot. As always, the band name continues to be appropriate, for this is the soundtrack to primitive men beating each other with bone clubs.

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With their third release, The Healer, Santo Rostro really got their shit together, played to their strengths and created an album that batters their prior offerings. It's like the difference between a 10yo and a 12yo scotch. Whatever characteristics that make that 10-year-old Islay Malt good only improve with the added couple years. A five-track riff-fest alternating a trio of uptempo, horn-waving jams with a pair of slow dirges show what SR is capable of.

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Brooklyn-based Tombs are back with The Grand Annihilation with their particular 'way of the storm', a post-infused blackened sludge amalgamation. They have continued to hone their sound and carve out their own niche, with brilliant results. Walk with us in nightmares, on to the Temple of Mars.

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Welcome back to the command deck. We hope you weren't kept stranded out past the Kuiper belt for too long and encountered no Xenomorphs, black holes, or solar flares. Now that you're back aboard the Italian Spacefleet Ufomammut, please strap on your seat belts once again in preparation for some wicked groovy rhythms, swirly dirly wormhole electronics, and the soaring wails of Captain Urlo. Occasionally you may encounter slight bumps, but don't worry, that's just our new engine, powered by a drummer of course, and he's been getting a lot of practice lately.

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