Thursday 15th, March 2018 / 07:00


By Elizabeth Eaton 

Ancient Edmonton doom awakens from slumber 
Photo by Dana Zuk


EDMONTON – Highbernation is Edmonton’s premiere stoner doom band. For those of us unacquainted with the differences between stoner doom, stoner metal, or doom metal, one might begin by considering the aesthetic.  

“It’s evil, it’s green, there are wizards, a lot of cool imagery,” says bassist Raine of their logo. “The art style that goes along with [stoner doom] is what draws me in.” 

Anyone who has smoked a reefer cigarette in their youth could understand the enchantment of this immediate, psychedelic message.  

Regarding the doom aspect, listeners can expect mid-tempo heavy riffs and rhythmic trip-wires punctuating the fuzz of their heavy, sonic hypnosis.  

Highbernation played their first show at Bohemia in August 2017 and have melted their audience’s faces off in each consecutive performance since then. They have opened for Rosetta and North, but the most mind-blowing performance to date was as opener for Conan, the well-established doom metal band from Liverpool.  

It would have be nice if someone had warned me “to strap on my fuckin’ seatbelt” (as guitarist and lead vocalist Matt would say) for that one – Highbernation’s set was nothing less than a goddamn avalanche of saucy riffs that took my senses from one tasty thrill to the next. Their drummer MJ accurately described Hibernation’s sound as “a lot of southern bluesy influence in it, and it’s just real fuckin’ saucy.” 

Indeed, the label “stoner” might drag one down into the idea that it’s mellow. In reality, the flavour of this juicy slide into the senses is addictive and stimulating. There are aspects to Highbernation’s music that are appealing for multi-genre appreciators.  

“I don’t think we’re that niche of a band,” says MJ. “There’s aspects of Highbernation that fit different listening demographics so we’re in the Venn diagram of whatever people are listening to. There’s a lot of intersecting points in Highbernation. Different types of humans can find something to like in it.” 

Although their emergence into the Edmonton scene is recent, Highbernation is a project that’s been bubbling and coalescing for seven years. Back in 2011, Matt and his then-roommate gave MJ a super doomy riff as a birthday present. As the story goes, they began chugging and sludging along. MJ jumped on the drumkit and started crunching along with them. In the interim, MJ had moved to Edmonton and Matt was living in Medicine Hat. When he moved back to Edmonton they found Raine and the project completely came together. 

“It never dies. It runs in our veins, seriously.  I’ve been in a lot of kinds of bands, done a lot of different things and it always comes back to doom metal,” says Matt.  

BeatRoute commented that it seemed like it was huge, to come out on the scene and be immediately opening for a band like Conan.  

“But that’s the thing, we’ve been playing this music like seven years,” explains Matt.  

“We’re ready to go. We’re seasoned veterans at this point. Conan’s just the start.” 


Your next chance to catch Highbernation at Temple on March 22 (Edmonton) with Woodhawk and Wolfrik.

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