Album Review: KIND – “Close Encounters” (Stoner Rock)

Written by Kirk

KINDClose Encounters
> Stoner rock
> Massachusetts, US
> Releasing August 11
> Ripple Music

Do you remember the last time you fell in love with a particular style of music? It could have happened in any of a multitude of ways—you saw a band you’d never heard of at a show, a friend let you borrow an album, or you heard a song on the radio that just blew you away (to name a few). I’m trying to remember exactly when this happened to me with stoner rock, but it was sometime in the mid 2010s. I’d stumbled upon Tee Pee Records and began to investigate their extensive release catalogue. It led me down a deep, deep rabbit hole into a world of whose surface I’d merely scratched using an old plastic butter knife with a cracked handle.

As I dug deeper into the world of stoner rock, I discovered a wealth of really cool bands: Karma to Burn, Mos Generator, and ASG (among many, many more). And in this process, I discovered a whole host of cool labels I’d never heard of before, like Spain’s Spinda Records, Belgium’s Polderrecords, and—one of my personal favorites—California’s Ripple Music. Recommended by a friend who’s the former brewmaster at Oliver Brewing Co. in Baltimore, MD, I subscribed to the label on Bandcamp and have never once looked back. And the story of Ripple Music is an interesting one: originally a blog called The Ripple Effect that focused on new, forgotten, and overlooked releases, it was just that until acid rock and proto-metal legends JPT Scare Band approached the bloggers about releasing some never-heard-before tracks. So a record label was made.

Fast forward three years. It’s 2013, we’re in Boston, MA, and Matt Couto of Elder, Darryl Shepherd of Black Pyramid and The Scimitar, and Tom Corino of Rozamov have started jamming together in their free time. The addition of Craig Riggs of Roadsaw turns this trio into a full-fledged band, and so KIND is born, a stoner rock supergroup with its roots buried deep in doom and sludge metal. Their debut album Rocket Science was released by Ripple Music in 2015 followed by Mental Nudge in 2020 during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns. A heavier, sludgier style of stoner rock, their riffs are akin to that of Relapse Records-era ASG (think beachhead stoner rock with a chip on its shoulder).

With two full-lengths and quite a few miles under their collective belts, KIND have decided to up their game and expand their sound. I don’t know exactly where this new, more mature sound is coming from, but I like it. Like…a lot. There’s something darker and heavier about KIND this time around, as though they’ve had a few “close encounters” since the release of Mental Nudge that have toughened them up and given them a hardened exterior. There are great elements of stoner rock’s moody cousin doom metal throughout this album, but it remains at its core the rifftastic stoner rock from the cosmos we know and love. Perhaps it’s the addition of new instruments to the band’s arsenal—mellotron and synths as well as an expanded array of percussion instruments that add a new level of depth. Or maybe the band is just ready for a new adventure and hoping we’re along for the ride.

Album art by Alexander von Wieding

Opening the album with enough high octane riffs to escape the Earth’s gravitational pull is “Burn Scar”, a song with enough firepower to leave you with your own burn scars if you sit too close to your speakers. What follows is a two-hit combo of doomy tracks—“Favorite One” and “Black Yesterday”—that will not only shift your vibe but your consciousness as well. The stoner rock vibe comes back with “Snag” and then goes psychedelic with “Massive”, with its swirling guitar riffs and throbbing rhythm, so make sure you’re ready. “Power Grab” is just pure adrenaline, the afterburners turned up to full throttle as we blast off into deep space. Things get psychedelic again with “Of the Ages”, and then they get really trippy with “What It Is to Be Free”, a full-on heavy psych trip into inner space. And closing out the album is the utterly wild “Pacino”, the whole band going full Spinal Tap and turning everything up to 11 as we blast off into uncharted territory. Darryl’s guitar work on this song might be my favorite riffs of the year so far, and this whole album just might be KIND’s best work to date. From top to bottom, this record gets better each time you play it.


I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes I think it’s actually okay to do so. For example, if you see a guy walking down the street in full Nazi regalia, you’re probably well within your rights to throw something at him, and there’s a pretty good chance no one will say anything about it. Conversely, take one look at Alexander von Wieding’s artwork on the cover of Close Encounters, and I think you can tell you’re in for a little more than a cheap thrill. Whether you’re new to the music of KIND or have been around since Rocket Science hit us square between the eyes, be prepared for a music experience like few others. And trust me, this is one book that’s as awesome as it looks.