These 13 Women Are Leading a Stoner Rock Revolution
...And a high, bewitching woman shall rock them.
On Friday, February 13, 1970, Black Sabbath invented heavy metal music with the release of their self-titled first album. The LP’s cover showcases a witchy, black-clad woman with cannabis-hued skin alongside an old woodland watermill. Instantly and eternally, she conjures mystery, power, and ancient fear—a dark goddess who enraptures all before the music even starts.
Now imagine if she had a voice. Today, she does. And her vocals are legion.
Aside from heavy metal in general, Black Sabbath conjured the form’s most compelling contemporary offshoot: The psychedelic strain of doom metal known as stoner rock. While present practitioners include seasoned giants on the order of Sleep, the Melvins, and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, the 21st century’s most dynamic stoner rockers harken back directly to that initial spellbinding woman on the Black Sabbath album cover. These artists invoke nature, revel in the occult, arise on clouds from the limitless inspiration of marijuana, and their main energy channel is unmistakably female—stoned and female.
Don all proper pentagrams and fire up your smokable sacraments, now, as The KIND pays tribute to 13 current forces in stoner-rock that boast particularly bewitching front women.
Lori S. - Acid King
Acid King takes its moniker from the nickname of a notorious LSD dealer and true-crime burnout. Nonetheless, the San Francisco power trio, dominating the stoner scene since 1993, has always been the crushing vehicle of vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and all-around conqueror queen, Lori S.
Alia O'Brien - Blood Ceremony
From the (high) north country, Toronto’s Blood Ceremony turns every performance into a black magick rite. Singer, keyboard player, and flautist Alia O’Brien is an endless font of musical invention, and sight to behold in fringed black leather. Play their latest: Lord of Misrule.
Elin Larsson - Blues Pills
Based in Sweden but formed in Iowa, Blues Pills’ intoxicating heavy psych sound is evident from their name forward. A rhythm section comprising half-brothers bassist Zack Anderson and drummer Cory Berry, along with guitar bomber Dorrian Sorriaux, elevate vocalist Elin Larsson to frozen heights of stoner glory. Their second LP, Lady in Gold, arrives this August.
Christine Davis - Christian Mistress
Before Christine Davis led Pacific Northwest marauders Christian Mistress on their ’70s rock-rooted mission under a pot-leaf flag, she erupted vocals for thrash blasters Buried Blood. She is revered by other metal singers (particularly Fenriz of Darkthrone). An across-the-stoner-psych-spectrum breadth of talent enriches Christine’s every note.
Jinx Dawson - Coven
Remember the first occult-themed album to open with a song titled "Black Sabbath" and feature a musician named Oz Osborne? It’s not the one you think.
That honor actually goes to Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, a proudly pro-Satan LP that beat Black Sabbath to vinyl by a year, and made a proto-metal goddess out of front-witch Jinx Dawson. Countless joints have been rolled on Witchcraft’s legendary gatefold, on which Jinx poses nude while splayed out atop a sacrificial altar.
After decades in repose, Jinx has drawn inspiration from the present generation of female stoner metal vocalists and resurrected Coven to new heights of horns and hails. Dig Coven's present EP, Light the Fire.
Sera Timms - Ides of Gemini
Los Angeles cabal Ides of Gemini recently shifted from being a power trio to a fearsome foursome. Fret not, Sera Timms still mesmerizes on vocals. She binds with an entire separate realm of spells, too, on her solo endeavor, Black Mare.
Jess - Jess and the Ancient Ones
Initially an offshoot of the Finnish metal squad Deathchain, the acid-blasted overwhelm of Jess and the Ancient Ones has proven to a be a trip of magnificent dimensions. Lead vocalist Jess is just that—Jess. Her music is her name.
Emerging from the wilds of Wisconsin, singing sorceress Jex Thoth has piloted the band that shares her name all over the globe, packing bongs and drumming sonic apparitions everywhere she lights up.
Johanna Sadonis - Lucifer
Not to be confused with husband-wife sludge duo Jucifer, the London/Berlin-born supergroup Lucifer arose immediately from the ashes of vocalist Johanna Sadonis’s one-and-done dual-frontwoman project the Oath to become something more—flamingly Phoenix-like more. Backing Johanna are former members of Cathedral, Angel Witch, Saturn, and Pagan Altar. She tops them all.
Rosalie Cunningham - Purson
Purson are to classic psychedelic music of the 1960s and ’70s what today’s wonder weed is to classic marijuana of the ’60s and ’70s. They’re stronger, more immediate, even intimidating in where they take you. But, as embodied by founder and front woman Rosalie Cunningham, Purson is perpetually connected to the fantastic grass that turned on the whole world in the first place. Desire’s Magic Theatre is their latest.
Jillian Taylor - Ruby the Hatchet
It’s not Ruby but Jillian Taylor who sings lead for Philadelphia psychonauts and harbingers of slow-build highs Ruby the Hatchet. Atop organ-pumped grooves and thunderous guitars, Taylor rides the group’s super-fuzz onslaught to a vibrant Valhalla.
Rebecca Vernon - SubRosa
With hypnotic aplomb, guitarist and singer Rebecca Vernon spearheads the eclectic sounds of Salt Lake City’s SubRosa. The band incorporates sludge metal, acoustic folk, and the sonic spookery of two electric violins. If you ever wonder what they’re smoking in Utah, just play More Constant Than the Gods.
Dorthia Cottrell - Windhand
No one in stoner rock, doom metal, or, in fact, anywhere, sounds quite like Windhand wailer Dorthia Cottrell. Her voice is as haunted and haunting as the band’s playing is vast and consuming. Cottrell turns bad trips into great music; smoke cautiously, put on Grief's Infernal Flower and go along wherever she takes you.