It’s been almost a year since marijuana laws were changed in the state of California — on Jan. 1, 2018 — to allow for its recreational use, and the downfall of mankind has failed to materialize. Well, perhaps not failed, but any descent into madness has certainly got nothing to do with whether or not one needs a doctor’s certificate to buy a bag of weed. What it means, in real terms, is that one no longer has to go to the trouble of inventing some ailment or other in order to acquire such a certificate, or indeed purchase their weed from a purveyor of other dubious substances down some dark alleyway. Not that we should ever negate the legitimate use of medical marijuana, many ailments being far from fictitious and its use in treating genuine patients being invaluable. But, let’s be honest, the majority of weed smokers just want to get high, listen to music, giggle and get the munchies. And, understandably, they’d like to do so without the risk of going to jail.
Of course, despite what you might smell on every other street corner, it is still illegal to smoke weed in public, but by and large it would appear that the war on drugs — or at least this particular drug — has been won. By a bunch of stoners who weren’t really trying very hard. In celebration of this end to hostilities, we have complied a list of 10 of the best metal songs in praise of the happy herb. There is, after all, a genre called stoner rock!
1. Black Sabbath, “Sweet Leaf”
It would be an act of almost criminal negligence not to begin our list with this Black Sabbath classic of 1971, from their Master of Reality opus. Legend has it that the coughing noise that opens the track, and indeed the album, is the result of guitarist Tony Iommi smoking a monumentally large joint, which was provided by Ozzy Osbourne. This further suggests that the band were ridiculously high for the recording, which hardly comes as news. To this day, “Sweet Leaf” is rightly considered to be the quintessential stoner-rock anthem, and the birthplace of the genre.
2. Clutch, “Spacegrass”
It could, without much risk of embarrassment, be argued that Clutch’s self-titled second album of 1995 ranks among the greatest stoner-rock albums of all time, and no track exemplifies this greatness more than “Spacegrass.” Having evolved from the hardcore roots of their debut record, Clutch found themselves moving into blues and stoner-rock territory and have pretty much kept one foot on that path ever since. Here we find the Maryland giants cruising the universe in a Galaxy 500, top down, chassis low, before hitting neutral in the tail of a comet. Now that’s what you call getting high!
3. Nashville Pussy, “I’m So High”
Not to be outdone, Atlanta rockers Nashville Pussy are so high that they’ve “gotta look down to see the sky.” To be fair, this seems to be a fairly constant state of affairs for the band, who also released an album titled High as Hell, but this track from their 2009 album From Hell to Texas must surely win a prize of some sort for the lyric “I’m standing on the top of everywhere/Blasting a Temptations tune/I’m gonna get wasted in the stratosphere/And take a shit on the moon.” It’s unlikely to be a Grammy, mind. They were nominated for Best Metal Performance in 1999 and lost to a little-known band called Metallica.
4. Down, “Bury Me in Smoke”
Yes, we easily could have chosen “Hail the Leaf” from this, Down’s 1995 debut album, NOLA, but it’s not as if fans of the band will argue too much about the inclusion of “Bury Me in Smoke,” mostly because they’ll be too stoned to argue. Closing the album and clocking in at seven minutes long, the track has been played at countless funerals, doubtless due to the lyric “Don’t regret the rules I broke/when I die bury me in smoke.” And, rather fittingly, the band played just 13 shows in support of the record before taking seven years to make the next one!
5. Monster Magnet, “Nod Scene”
Speaking of perfect stoner-rock albums, which we were earlier, in case you got high and forgot, Monster Magnet’s Spine of God, released in 1991, is every inch the epitome of perfection, a true masterpiece, and none more so than “Nod Scene,” a track so, well, perfect, that you’ll get high just listening to it. Which can be the only possible explanation for some of the lyrical interpretations you’ll find online, should you be interested. Hey, man, that’s “whippets,” not “whip hits”! Oh well, at least they got the last word right: SMOKE! Ironically, frontman Dave Wyndorf insists that he had given up all drugs at the time of writing and was relying on “drug memory.” Which is remarkable, since most of us can’t remember why we went in the kitchen.
6. Kyuss, “Green Machine”
And speaking of lyrical (mis)interpretation — just a minute ago, remember? — there are countless suggestions as to what Kyuss’s “Green Machine” might be about, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s about a green car, insists one, while another informs that it refers to corporate greed and the inner conflict between wanting to make money and not sell out. A third suggestion is that, “Uh, it’s probably about drugs.” And who knows? All we can tell you is that the track — and the Blues for the Red Sun album, whence it came — is most excellent, and sounds even better with the benefit of headphones and a joint the size of a baseball bat.
7. 1000Mods, “Electric Carve”
For the purposes of compiling these lists, we occasionally poke around on the internet looking for this or that song. Perhaps it wasn’t as great as we remember. … Maybe we got that lyric wrong. … And given that this particular list is about stoner-rock tunes, we got kinda distracted and found this. 1000Mods apparently are from Greece and formed in 2006. Doubtless they have several songs that reference weed and the smoking thereof, but until we find one, have some of this. You’ll probably find it more conducive to getting high than Cannabis Corpse.
8/ Karma to Burn, “Ma Petite Mort”
It should be noted that this, the opening song from Karma to Burn’s magnificent self-titled album of 1997, was selected purely because it references getting high. Which, after all, is what this list is about. It also should be noted, however, that every song on the record is a work of genius, not least the band’s cover of Joy Division’s “24 Hours.” Later albums were entirely instrumental, which would technically have excluded them from our list, but you have to be pretty stoned to stop bothering with song titles and have numbers instead, which they also did on later records. Forty-two is particularly good.
9. Belzebong, “Bong Thrower”
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As you might imagine, there are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of stoner-rock bands, many of them with names that make their fondness for “wacky tobaccy” only too clear: Weedeater, Bongzilla, Greenleaf, etc. The silliest name of all has to be that of Polish stoners Belzebong, but as you’ll find on “Bong Thrower,” from their Sonic Scrapes & Weedy Grooves album, there is nothing silly about their wonderfully sonic racket. Heavier than an elephant’s testicles, they gain extra cool points for sampling Withnail and I at the start: “The purveyor of rare herbs and prescribed chemicals is back. Will we never be set free?” Let’s hope not.
10. Sleep, “Dopesmoker”
Are you sitting comfortably? Been for a pee break? Good. You’ll need to be suitably prepared for this one, because, as the title suggests, this is for serious stoners. Recorded in 1995, Dopesmoker is the title of Sleep’s third album. It is also the title of the only track on that album, which clocks in at over an hour long. Perhaps not surprisingly, executives at London Records, who had funded its making, were rather upset about this and refused to release it, ultimately leading to the breakup of the band. But, hey, what do record companies know? Today, Dopesmoker is rightly considered to be a benchmark album (or song), one critic describing it as being “like Mark Rothko hitting you over the head with a bag of hammers.”