In the summer of 2015, several hundred stoner rock artists and fans travelled to a small festival by a lake in the northern part of Greece. And though that turned out to be the Fuzztastic Planet Festival’s final year—so far, anyway—the scene’s pulse has hardly diminished. In 2016, fans headed to the Los Almiros Festival to watch their local heroes share the stage with international acts like Truckfighters.
Heavy music has been popular in Greece for decades. In the ’90s, underground black metal bands like Athens’ Rotting Christ responded to the Nordic dominance in the genre with albums that included themes from ancient Greece. In the panic and slump that followed Greece’s economic crash in 2010, scores of young people fled the country. For some of those who chose to stay, fuzzed-out rock provides an escape from the daily routine. Radio stations like Downtuned, the self-described home of the Greek heavy underground, have become a beacon of the scene, spreading the word across the globe.
Needless to say, stoner rock has very little in common with traditional Greek music—don’t expect bouzouki, Cretan lute, or Epirus clarinet here, though a handful of bands, like Villagers of Ioannina City, have managed to merge the two sounds successfully. Most of them, though, including bands like Nightstalker and Planet of Zeus, keep the focus simple: guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. If you’re a fan of groups like Kyuss or Turbonegro, there are plenty of interesting things happening in Greece to warrant your attention.