Heavy metal music has always had its roots intertwined with those of the cannabis plant. Since Black Sabbath first birthed the genre in an amniotic rush of bong water, weed has been metalheads’ drug of choice for its ability to make things sound tastier, move slower, and feel less like a massive bummer all the time. That said, as metal’s extremity increased, its relationship with weed soured a little. Soon, it was widely acknowledged that metal and marijuana did not mix, and that the former would severely harsh the buzz of those enjoying the latter.
But this categorization is unfair. The truth is that there are plenty of extreme metal albums out that that are absolutely brilliant to listen to while faded as fuck. Whether due to their deliciously zaftig riffs, their themes of dark psychedelia, or the extent of their musical experimentation, these records will surprise metal fans by going well with a massive bong rip, while veteran potheads of the tie-dyed variety will find themselves unexpectedly sucked into their catacombish depths.
Here are 10 albums you didn’t expect to like so much while high as hell…
Celtic Frost, To Mega Therion (1985)
It’s all about the grandeur, dude. Celtic Frost are for many the birthplace of black metal, a stygian sonic force that exudes only wrath and blackness…but that guitar tone is just so damn chocolatey. That, plus the album’s imperial vibe and strange rhythmic shifts throughout, make it a gift to the stoned mind. Best listened to on vinyl in some sort of blacklit den or shed in the woods.
Rwake, If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die (2004)
Arkansas’ Rwake started off as easily one of the ugliest, most despairing bands on the planet. And yet their third album If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die has a nihilistic hugeness that feels good on the resin-caked soul. Even as the band explore incredible depths of hopelessness and shadow with the songs on this record, they do so with a winding, arcane atmosphere which feels just artsy and enthralling enough for even good-timey stoners to embrace.
Code Orange, Forever (2017)
Part of what has endeared Code Orange to the metal-loving masses is how brutal they get, adding grating industrial noise and hostile death metal influences into even their catchiest songs. But while these sounds might alienate the sober listener, the high explorer hears how these enhance the music, and feels their effect on a deep emotional level. The end result is an experience of Forever that is devoid of scene politics and metal history, with only the cacophony to guide you. Sure, this one’ll scare off the hippies, but that might be for the best.
Autopsy, The Headless Ritual (2013)
Though always on the weird, doomy side of the death metal spectrum, Autopsy’s rebirth in the 2010s saw them fully merger their speedy and murkier sides. It was on 2013’s The Headless Ritual where this reached a beautifully stony equilibrium, with the band alternating between furious rapid fire and eerie ambience at the drop of a hat. This feels in tune with the stoner head, still providing the metallic side of things while never getting unnecessarily harsh or cruel to the ear. A warning that the track “Running From The Goathead” might give one a little paranoia about, well, running from a goat head.
Eyehategod, Take As Needed For Pain (1993)
No band straddles the line between stoner-friendly and Do Not Listen While High like NOLA’s Eyehategod, and this is personified in 1993’s aptly-titled Take As Needed For Pain. On the one hand, the band’s sludgy groan is perfect accompaniment to someone in the grips of the broccoli. On the other, the band’s themes of trauma, addiction, and total misanthropy will sour the mental milk of your average love child. Definitely approach with caution, but if you’re the right kind of stoner, this one’ll suck you in.
Bathory, Hammerheart (1990)
For many old-school listeners, Hammerheart is where Bathory’s Viking history fetish got all experimental. For potheads, though, it’s where the band’s ripping thrash era ended and they became enthrallingly weird. Slow, historic, and just packed with mood, Hammerheart is a beautiful journey for the weed smoker who wants to drift along the tides of Scandinavian history. Still dark and violent, but in a totally groovy way.
Cannibal Corpse, The Bleeding (1994)
Even with its themes of perverse sex murder and its grinding riffage, Cannibal Corpse’s The Bleeding feels distinctly stoner-friendly. So much of that is the guitar tone — unlike many later Cannibal albums, which have a steelier and harsher guitar sound, this album has a much thicker, lusher tone, making the riffs feel less serrated and more intestinal. Of course, given how much weed former Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes is known for smoking, it’s unsurprising that the band have a lettuce-friendly side.
Darkthrone, Old Star (2019)
A Darkthrone album that’s fun to get high to — not something you think of every day. But the Norwegian black metal stalwarts pulled it off with 2019’s Old Star, a record that perfectly melds the duo’s traditional black metal vibe and their punkier, doomier later material. The result is an album still steeped in shadow and bitterness, but one that has a certain accessibility with the faded brain. Death to narc metal!
Ensiferum, One Man Army (2015)
It’s weird that there isn’t more pothead pagan metal, as the genre’s jauntiness feels tailor-made for stoned shenanigans. And though Ensiferum are pretty warlike on One Man Army, they also bring some powerfully folkish mid-paced marching songs. The whole thing comes to a head with “Two of Spades,” a folk-thrash song with a disco breakdown and a chorus lyric of, “I am not a poser!” Die laughing.
Cinderella, Night Songs (1986)
This isn’t extreme! we hear some of you say. But sure it is — it’s extremely cheesy. You can laugh all you want at hair metal’s poofier bands, but Cinderella‘s Night Songs is one of the genre’s most underrated gems. More so, it’s catchy riffs and humid, hazy vibe definitely feel weed-favorable. Slinky and eerie, the opening title track is the kind of song that goes perfectly with getting a tan on top of your van as an edible kicks in. Ignore the Aquanet and you’ve got a solid stoner record.
Words by Chris Krovatin