Western Canadian Fuzz: A Primer on Everything Stoner from Vancouver


Beachside skateparks, laidback attitudes, astronomical rent prices, and year round red sun. If I asked you to name one city in the world where all of the aforementioned apply, I’d bet you a handful of nickels that California crawls its way into your head first. You normally wouldn’t be wrong, but in this specific case, we’re talking about our Sunshine State: Vancouver, British Columbia.

We’ve still got your crazed, dirty-faced street dwellers constantly spewing about how the end is nigh. We’ve also got good B.C. bud (which is legal up here in Canada, by the way). And we’ve got fresh fish tacos at Go Fish down near Granville Island. We’ve even got homeless people riding stolen shopping carts down hills just for the thrill of it.

Well, there’s something about the combination of sea, sky, and city that sustains a cultural hotbed - one known for film, art, and music. The first Rambo film, titled First Blood (1982), saw Sylvester Stallone hiking through the Canadian bush up in a little town called Hope, just an hour away from our seaside city. Vancouver’s nickname of “Hollywood North” couldn’t be more accurate, with more movies filmed here than you’d think - they’re just not set in Vancouver. 

However, the musically-inclined lie at the forefront of this creative culture. From fuzz to sludgy riffs, Vanvouver is a city that is slowly becoming known for its stoner-tinged heavy music scene. While there are, of course, bands that don’t deal with anything stoner-related, but there seems to be a trend that leans this way. Here are seven Vancity stoner metal bands you should be listening to - in no particular order.



Bison emerged from Vancouver’s crossover/punk/thrash skate scene that produced a few decent bands out of the early 2000s. However, unlike their meals-on-four-wheels skatepark contemporaries who leaned more towards a punky crossover edge, Bison stands tall with a heavier, doomier, sludgier sound. While officially labeled as stoner/sludge metal, the group really appeals to most corners of the metal arena. Their debut 2008 LP, Quiet Earth, (which sports a bison riding a smoking canoe through space as an album cover) leans toward a thrashier, more fast-paced sound, but their newest output - 2017’s You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient - offers slower and more doomier sonics, coupled with lyrics that mostly focus on environmental issues.

Fun Fact: The documentary Carts of Darkness (2008), which depicts Vancouver’s shopping cart-riding homeless culture, features a Bison song.

Recommended record: You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient (2017)

Trial track: “Until the Earth is Empty



S.T.R.E.E.T.S. (a.k.a. Skateboarding Totally Rules Everything Else Totally Sucks) is a now-defunct skate thrash band that saw its hayday sometime between the turn of the century and 2005. The act most notably featured James Gnarwell, who also does lead vocals for the aforementioned band, Bison. While his vocal style more-or-less remains within the same sonic vein throughout the two projects, S.T.R.E.E.T.S. demonstrates a more lighthearted side to Gnarwell’s now-serious musicianship. Featuring album titles like Invaders From Gnars and BoBoGnarGnar, the band’s music is diversely fun — with catchy lead guitar work, gnarly basslines, and comical lyrics at the forefront of it all. It sounds exactly like what a bunch of skateboarding teens would put together after a jaunt at the skatepark, and sometimes that’s all you need from a record spin.

Fun fact:  The band’s song “Georgia St.” was featured in the first edition of EA’s Skate video game series.

Recommended record: Invaders From Gnars (2005)

Trial track: “Beat Up In A Langley Washroom


Black Wizard:

Black Wizard move us along our Vancouvian showcase towards a more melodic region of the metal-verse. While Bison and S.T.R.E.E.T.S. featured a little more thrashy crossover action coupled with barking vocals, Black Wizard run closer to what their name suggests. Taking more influence from traditional stoner/doom bands like Monolord and Om, melodic clean singing is the name of the game here. On that note, blending melodic clean singing with precise instrumentation is what Black Wizard excels at. The band also manages to include a few faster, thrashier anthems to their releases, which gives them a bit more punch than other contemporaries.

Fun fact: On the band’s newest record, there is a song titled “James Wolfe”. Contrary to popular belief, this tune is not named after the British army general who helped beat the French on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec back in 1759. James Wolfe just happens to be a modern friend of the band who they decided to give a nod to. No politics here - whew!

Recommended record: Livin’ Oblivion (2018)

Trial track: “Two Of These Nights



Following-up as number 4 on the list is Seer, another Vancouver-based stoner/doom band. With this group, one would be highly mistaken to misjudge them solely by their genre tag, as they offer a whole lot more than just bland stonerish doom metal. Injecting haunting soaring vocals, juicy breakdowns, and even occasional blast beats/growling into the stoner/doom sound is what Seer does better than any other band I have come across. You know that trope people say about albums that goes something like “wow, that didn’t feel like forty-five minutes”? Yeah, well, the first person to ever say that was listening to a Seer album. Furthermore, despite having an average song length of 7-8 minutes, none of their albums draw past the forty-five minute mark, making each a palatable listen. All killer, no filler, baby.

Fun fact: Don’t mistake the band name for some word you just don’t know. “Seer” literally just means someone who sees. I’m not ashamed, but it took me a few weeks to realize that.

Recommended record: Vol. 6 (2019)

Trial track: “As The Light Fades



Ah, yes. The weedian names are finally starting to emerge. Take that, Weedeater, I like Hashteroid’s band name better. Anyways, this list would not be complete without a silly band name centered around marijuana, so in comes Hashteroid. These Vancouvians play a little faster than the average bloke standing outside one of the city’s many cannabis cafés, with some serious High On Fire/Motörhead vibes going on throughout their debut self-titled album. If you like the aforementioned punky bands and enjoy a little more sativa than indica in your non-potable potents, Hashteroid might be your next big kick.

Fun fact: Sleep, one of the most influential and popular stoner/doom bands of all time, released a surprise album a few years back, of which the opening track includes the lyric “through the hashteroid fields, a transmission yields”. Whether it is a nod to our B.C. boys or not, the true Hashteroid were pretty stoked about that.

Recommended record: Hashteroid (2018)

Trial track: “...Return to Hash Planet


Dead Quiet:

Dead Quiet are probably the most standard-sounding band in this list, and that is by no means a bad thing. To describe their sound, they sound like a punkier, bluesier version of Kyuss, with maybe a cleaner production. They’ve got some faster hitters, some more instrumentation-oriented tracks, and some sing-songy slower numbers that stick in your head, inevitably asking you to crawl back for more. While Dead Quiet can certainly easily be compared to a few other similar bands out there, it cannot be denied that they know how to write catchy stoner rock songs. Borderlining on music that sounds like classic rock, Dead Quiet is the band you listen to when your ears can’t take any more of that progressive post-hardcore melodic grindcore you love oh so much.

Fun fact: When on the road, Dead Quiet always keep at least one jar of salt-brine pickles in the tour van, as lead singer Kevin Keegan says, “They keep our guts healthy… and the juice is great for chasing shots of whiskey” (quote credit to Vancity Rockers).

Recommended record: Dead Quiet (2015)

Trial track: “Remaining Remains



Photo Credit: Chelsey Bigland Photography

Bringing up the rear is Craters, our western hometown heroes. Craters are arguably the least stoner-sounding band on this list; one could even argue that they are out of place here. While aforementioned bands like Bison and Black Wizard all hit some serious numbers on the fuzz-meter, Craters caters to a more post-oriented sound — tinged with doom and psychedelics. However, while I cannot ascertain that members of the band are stoners (but they definitely are), I can confirm that you absolutely need to be a stoner to listen to these guys. Craters released a full-length album back in 2016 and it contained a whopping two tracks. If you thought the twelve-minute opening song was long, then you won’t enjoy the twenty-six-minute banger that follows it. Still not as long as Dopesmoker, though.

Did I mention this band plays purely instrumental?

Fun fact: There is a girl in this band.

Recommended record: Laurentian Abyss EP (2018)

Trial track: “Batagaika

Thanks for running through seven of our favourite Van-bands with us. Let us know what you liked, what you hated, and what you can’t stop spinning.


Hunter Walwaski co-hosts The Iron Club on Sundays from 10:00-11:00PM.