The Best Japanese Stoner Sludge Doom Bands (2022)

We all know the lore of how Judas Priest, Deep Purple and KISS made big waves in Japan and inspired the thriving metal scene we see there today. Like any other country, the impact of Black Sabbath was palpable in Japan as well, with the directly attributed subgenres of stoner, sludge and doom metal eventually forming in the country.

The earliest traces of Sabbath worship can be seen in what is believed to be the first recorded cover of a Black Sabbath song, when proto-metal act Flower Travellin’ Band did a cover of “Black Sabbath” for their 1970 album Anywhere. Additionally, Flower Travellin’ Band have had a hand in cultivating the doom metal sound in general, with their album Kirikyogen incorporating a heavily dissonant, low-tuned and slower tempoed guitar style – a menacing tone which would be replicated and embellished by amplifier worshipers throughout Japan and beyond.

Since Flower Travellin’ Band, countless other musicians have plugged in, played slow and recited the Satanic Rites of Drugula. We now take a look at the legendary, current, and brand-new acts who sit at the dope throne inside the Shinto shrine.

Church of Misery

If you thought Macabre and Necrophagia were the only bands of quality who dabbled in serial killer and horror film mythos, lend your ears to the unholy congregation at this church. Formed in 1995, Church of Misery take a lot from that humid, marshy NOLA sound, and at times, I forget that I amnot listening to a Down record – there are certainly some Anselmo vibes in the vocal delivery, while the music is that not-quite 70s sounding, muscled up, bong-filled-to-the brim Electric Wizard type of sludge. It is difficult to pick a favorite album or song, as anyone with any interest in both doom metal and serial killers will find a lot to love here. Their bassist Tatsu Mikami has been the sole constant member in their line-up, with Church of Misery having as many ex-guitarists as Richard Ramirez had victims. Load up the pipe and get ready for some sludgy creepy crawling.


(Video) Sithter - Evilfucker (2014) sludge | drone | doom | doom metal | japan

Inspired by the famed Melvins sludge masterpiece “Boris” as part of their Bullhead album,Boris formed in 1992, just a year after Bullhead was released, making both that song and this band hallmarks of experimental rock. Composed of drummer Atsuo, guitarist/bassist Takeshi, and guitarist/keyboardist Wata, the three members contribute equally to the diversified collection of songs and albums they have produced. And they have produced quite a bit, with many being masterpieces which sprawl across several genres such as Heavy Rocks, Amplifier Worship andAbsolutego. Boris are not shy about collaborating and pushing their music beyond sludge, drone, stoner or whatever else you’d like to label them, having done work with noise artist Merzbow (together they covered their song namesake on 2R0I2P0), Sunn O))) and guitarist Michio Kurihara.

Eternal Elysium

Another act that grew out of the funky mushroom patch of doom and stoner acts in the early 90s, Nagoya’s Eternal Elysium sprouted up from the sludgy soil of guitarist/vocalist Yukito Okazaki in 1991. Lineup changes were as frequent as pipe replacements for Eternal Elysium, starting with original bassist Atsutoshi Tachimoto and drummer Jiro Murakami leaving after their debut albumFaithful, and continue to this day – though Okazaki’s vision remains lit. Since the 90s, they’ve rolled up some seminal albums including the 2005 doom/psych/acid rock masterpiece Searching Low and High, recorded far from home but in a familiar feeling place – the California desert. Check out the live DVD Wizard's Convention: Japanese Heavy Rock Showcase for songs by Eternal Elysium as well as Church of Misery, Boris and Greenmachine.


You are going to have to sift through thick clouds of bong smoke and building debris to find the members of Corrupted – the elusive legends avoid interviews and publicity, so even adding them in this list may be against their best intentions. “We do not reject all media, or bash writers who express themselves through articles or reviews.” That's a relief. Formed in 1994, they are a misanthropic force which is powered by the riff, playing at an ungodly volume level live. Their cult status has influenced countless other acts, such as Gallhammer, in which Vivian Slaughter was quoted as saying Corrupted are the “greatest band in the world.” Corrupted are unique in that they write most of their lyrics in Spanish. Corrupted – a gloomy sludgathon with the odd acoustic passage used to nestle you in before the rumble. Listen now and keep the legend alive.

Ningen Isu

(Video) Abiuro - Enmity 【Japanese Doom/Sludge/Stoner Compilation “Doom Fujiyama”】

Ningen Isu are a band you are most likely aware of, as their video for “Heartless Scat” made the viral rounds recently, introducing over 9 million people to their new favorite Japanese band. Obviously, this was not their first scat around the pit, as the band, named after the horror story by Edogawa Rampo, “human chair,” formed way back in 1987, releasing their first album Ningen Shikkaku in 1990. The fresh faced/ghoul faced at the time band made their presence known in Japan by appearing on a TV show. Their sound is a Sabbath inspired affair which combines literary influences like the aforementioned Rampo as well as Lovecraft, Poe and so on. In 2013 they managed to meet their masters, playing on Ozzfest. Now, Ningen Itsu has finally received the acclaim they deserve, with the Western world embracing the band through reaction videos. Why not give it a few more views to help it get to that 10 million mark?

Funeral Moth

Mothra goes doom metal. Funeral Moth features ex-Coffins, ex-Psycho To Black, ex-Deathchurch members who have joined forces to make this “extreme doom” outfit. Formed in 2005, the band spread their wings and took to the stage in 2006, before releasing their first EP in 2008, the two-tracked Funeral Moth. By 2015, after releasing their full-length LP Dense Fog, the moth was strong enough to fly outside of Japan, seeing a stop in Taiwan. Listen to their new EP, Polar, and ride the moth into the funeral sky.


An eclectic display of metal percussive instruments are the tools Osaka based experimental sludge band Birushanah employ on stage. The hammered sounds bring a tribal edge to the genre – like a band of concrete jungle natives who have just smoked the secret herb and now want to pound out a sacred ceremony using modern instruments. The band’s sludge and doom influences range fromNeurosis and Swans to fellow countrymen Corrupted, and with their unique clinks and clangs, along with Japanese traditional scale – another notable aspect of their sound, they create something a little different than the usual Iommi worship.


(Video) Samothrace - Life's Trade [Full Album · 2008] Sludge/Doom Metal

This is hyper doom. Abiuro, meaning “to deny by oath” is one of the murkiest sludge groups to emerge from Japan. Sounding as if the band members and their instruments had just come out of the Shikogabana swamp, Abiuro join the ranks of the new wave of stoner, doom and sludge artists popping up in the country (blackmonday, North by Northwest, Oldemada), many of whom are featured on the Doom Fujiyama compilation album which was recently released. Walk hand in hand with the band through Aokigahara forest and listen to their heavy-as-hell new track “Wounded Land” from The Origin of Hyper Doom.

Hebi Katana

The new samurai team on the block, Hebi Katana, took advantage of the lengthy downtime during the pandemic last year to bring their vision of a fuzzed out feudal Japan to light – that of “Tokyo Samurai Doom.” From jam sessions to iPhone recordings to debut album, the young trio have certainly done their time in the dojo. Their deep purple colored self-titled debut has riffs as sharp as a katana and is available now on CD and cassette. Step into their proto-doom dojo for Sabbathy songs with Wylde vocals.


This section of the article is about the newer stoner or sludge acts, and at times there isn’t much to say about a band who has one album out – besides recommending them as they “keep the Sabbath dream alive.” Luckily, there is a little bit more to Tokyo based Floaters than just a one-sentence promo. They released their first demo in 2015, followed by two full-length albums, Waiting for Amnesty and Roman Holiday. The drugged-out kaiju artwork by Masato Okano is tubular, and the Fu Manchu-esque music makes you feel like a log going down a river of fuzz. Take a trip to your local river, grab a beer and joint, lay your big hairy body in a rubber inner tube, slap this cassette into your portable radio, and become a little floater yourself.

Electric Funeral – In Remembrance Of:

Millarca 1993-1998

(Video) dios del mal-Sacrificio 【Japanese Doom/Sludge/Stoner Compilation “Doom Fujiyama”】

In this section we pay tribute to a few of the early torchbearers of doom, stoner or sludge who felt it was better to burn out than slowly fade away. First up are Millarca, who were only active for five years in total. The epic doom performed by the Osaka natives was influential enough to build a legacy, even though the band only released three demos during their tenure. They often joined Church of Misery on tour before disbanding and disappearing into the ether.

Bellzlleb 1985-1992

Belial, Behemoth, Bellzlleb. Back in 1985, members Tetsu and Yuji summoned the occult powers found within the works of Crowley, cult horror films and satanic philosophy to form the black/doom/hardcore hydra Bellzlleb. The ghost faced/inverted cross clutching heretics toured the club circuit extensively during the 1980s and the early 1990s while putting out such staples as Satanic Metal and their self-titled chaos-filled entity of a disc. The band was put to rest in 1992 when Tetsu became disenchanted with the many member changes and felt the band couldn’t sound any better than they had prior.

Greenmachine 1995-2007

Like the Melvins and Boris connection, there was also one with Kyuss and Greenmachine. The desert aesthetic certainly influenced many bands, and proved to be big enough in Japan to ignite this doom machine. The Wizard's Convention: Japanese Heavy Rock Showcase DVD features the band alongside other genre legends Boris, Church of Misery and Eternal Elysium. While those bands are still active, disbanding, resurfacing and disbanding again was a trend for Greenmachine until their final show in 2007, in which they released a DVD chronicling it entitled This is the End.

(Video) MASSPRESS- Invitation 【Japanese Doom/Sludge/Stoner Compilation “Doom Fujiyama”】

This was a guest post submitted by Ryan Dyer.For Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau bands, there are additional articles about the artists in these areas for your reading pleasure.Also check out his pieces onChinese folk metalandChinese black metal,best metal bands in Chinaandwomen in the Japanese grind scene.


The Best Japanese Stoner Sludge Doom Bands? ›

The Best Japanese Stoner Sludge Doom Bands
  • Ningen Isu. 人間椅子 ...
  • Funeral Moth. Rare Metal Albums. ...
  • Birushanah. Pudding Broadcastプリン放送 ...
  • Abiuro. [official]DOOM FUJIYAMA channel. ...
  • Hebi Katana. DIW by diskunion. ...
  • Floaters. FLOATERS. ...
  • Electric Funeral – In Remembrance Of: Millarca 1993-1998. ...
  • Bellzlleb 1985-1992. [ Eye Tunz ] [HD]
Sep 15, 2021

Who is the best doom metal band? ›

Many people consider Black Sabbath the godfathers of doom metal, but Electric Wizard, Cathedral, Saturnus and Sleep are also widely considered some of the OGs and overall best doom metal bands around who inspired countless newer groups across the genre.

What is Japanese heavy metal called? ›

Kawaii metal (also known as idol metal, cute metal, or kawaiicore) is a musical genre that blends elements of heavy metal and J-pop that was pioneered in Japan in the early 2010s.
Kawaii metal
Other namesIdol metal cute metal kawaiicore
Stylistic originsHeavy metal hard rock J-pop bubblegum pop extreme metal EDM
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What is doom metal music? ›

Doom metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "thicker" or "heavier" sound than other heavy metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom.

What was the first doom metal band? ›

"Black Sabbath" is arguably the first song that could be called doom metal. Black Sabbath has themselves said this was the song that laid the groundwork for the entire Black Sabbath sound.
1.The Halo Effect Days Of The Lost
10.Psycroptic Divine Council
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Dec 21, 2012

Why is it called black metal? ›

The term "black metal" was coined by the English band Venom with their second album Black Metal (1982). Although generally deemed speed metal or thrash metal rather than black metal, the album's lyrics and imagery focused more on anti-Christian and Satanic themes than any before it.

Is heavy metal popular in Japan? ›

The list of popular acting bands of Japanese metal has reached the same level as Australia and even Europe. Japan is famous for many more heavy metal bands, which would take a lot of time to list.

Which band helped popularize heavy metal in Japan? ›

1970s: Early acts

Originally formed in 1967 as a cover band of British and American psychedelic rock titled "Yuya Uchida & the Flowers," Japan's Flower Travellin' Band have been credited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal music.

What is Japanese rock called? ›

Japanese rock, or J-rock, is an eclectic genre of rock and roll music from Japan.

Why is it called sludge metal? ›

Mike IX Williams, vocalist for Eyehategod, suggests that "the moniker of sludge apparently has to do with the slowness, the dirtiness, the filth and general feel of decadence the tunes convey".

Is doom metal goth? ›

Gothic doom metal is a genre without clear borders. Many gothic doom bands are simultaneously death/doom metal, funeral doom, symphonic metal or some form of contemporary gothic rock. What unites the bands is often the sorrow from the gothic lyric themes. Female vocals are usual, but not mandatory.

Which company owns doom? ›

Doom (franchise)
Original workDoom (1993)
Ownerid Software (ZeniMax Media) (Microsoft)
Print publications
Novel(s)Novel Series
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What is the doom music called? ›

Doom Eternal OST - The Only Thing They Fear Is You (Mick Gordon) [Doom Eternal Theme] - YouTube.

Who invented stoner rock? ›

Stoner rock, also known as stoner metal or stoner doom, is a rock music fusion genre that combines elements of doom metal with psychedelic rock and acid rock. The genre emerged during the early 1990s and was pioneered foremost by Kyuss and Sleep.

Is funeral doom death metal? ›

The definition of funeral doom is a crossover between death/doom metal and funeral dirge music. Don't expect much instrumental action, the focus will be on creating a depressive mood at all times.

Who was the first metal band? ›

According to popular opinion, Black Sabbath were the first metal band to exist, releasing their debut album in 1970, but many rock acts set up the devil's favorite genre by recording some seriously heavy tracks in the 1960s and even the '50s.

Why do black metal bands wear makeup? ›

Corpse paint or corpsepaint is a style of black-and-white makeup, used by black metalbands during live concerts and photo shoots. The makeup is used to make the musicians appear inhuman, corpse-like, or demonic, and has likely become "the most identifiable aspect of the black metal aesthetic."

What was the first death metal band? ›

Scream Bloody Gore is widely regarded as the first death metal album. Music biographer Garry Sharpe-Young considered Death "a genre-breaking band centered upon frontman Chuck Schuldiner" and that the band "would become one of the prime instigators of the death metal movement".

What is the heaviest band ever? ›

Top 10 Heaviest bands of all time
  • Motörhead. A classic hitter, super intense for the time and they definitely set the standard for other bands and influenced many after them. ...
  • Slayer. ...
  • Pantera. ...
  • Death. ...
  • Cannibal Corpse. ...
  • Lil Thrash. ...
  • Gorguts. ...
  • Skinless.

Who is the biggest metal band of all time? ›

But a new report has run the numbers of Metallica's ticket sales and financial earnings since 1982, and it's official: Metallica are the biggest metal band in the world, hands down. According to Pollstar, Metallica have sold approximately 22.1 million tickets since 1982, bringing in around $1.4 billion.

Is Slipknot popular in Japan? ›

For those who are unaware, Slipknot's presence in Japan has always been far and wide and influenced generations of Japanese rock artists. Expanding its reach, Japan is also one of the few countries that are treated with the Slipknot-born festival, “Knotfest”.

What is J metal? ›

CEMCO's “J” Metal products are manufactured in various grounds (depths) to be used with a variety of polystyrene or foam insulation boards for exterior purposes. “J” Metal also provides for a workable screed around doors and windows.

What is a visual kei band? ›

Visual kei (Japanese: ヴィジュアル系, Hepburn: Vijuaru Kei, lit. "Visual Style") is a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, similar to Western glam rock.

Where is Babymetal from? ›

Tokyo, Japan

Who is the most popular Japanese band? ›

The best-selling artists by number of singles sold are AKB48 (50.8 million), B'z (35.8 million) in second place, Mr. Children (28.45 million) in third place, and Southern All Stars (25.179 million) in fourth place.

Who is the most famous Japanese singer? ›

1. 宇多田 ヒカル (うただ ひかる) / Utada Hikaru. Popular and well-known worldwide, Utada Hikaru has dominated the Japanese music charts since 1997.

What does it mean to Japan metal? ›

Japanning is a type of finish that originated as a European imitation of East Asian lacquerwork. It was first used on furniture, but was later much used on small items in metal. The word originated in the 17th century.

Is Wagakki band Chinese? ›

Wagakki Band (Japanese: 和楽器バンド, Hepburn: Wagakki Bando) is a Japanese band that combines rock music with wagakki (traditional Japanese musical instruments) and shigin (Japanese poems reciting art). Their early songs were adapted from Vocaloid recordings but they have since written their own original music.

What is a visual kei band? ›

Visual kei (Japanese: ヴィジュアル系, Hepburn: Vijuaru Kei, lit. "Visual Style") is a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, similar to Western glam rock.

Where is Babymetal from? ›

Tokyo, Japan


1. 緑血 (Ryokuchi) - 晨鐘 (Shinsho) (Full EP; 2004) [Experimental Sludge Metal]
(XDM4: The Sludge Pit)
2. [live]abiuro【Only JPN doom/sludge/stoner...etc Channel"Doom Fujiyama"】
([official]DOOM FUJIYAMA channel)
3. REDWOOD - High Speed Tripper **OFFICIAL VIDEO**
(ROB HAMMER *stonerdoom*psych*sludge*grunge*metal*)
4. NINGEN ISU / Heartless Scat
5. HEBI KATANA - Impermanence-無常 [FULL ALBUM] 2022
(ROB HAMMER *stonerdoom*psych*sludge*grunge*metal*)
6. Mercury Tower Full Live (Japanese Doom Metal)
(Mercurytower japan)

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