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Death doom as the name suggests is an extreme metal sub-genre that incorporates elements of death metal into doom. It typically incorporates death growl vocals and aggressive down-tuned guitar parts into slower doom tempos though double kick drum patterns may be used. Its roots can be traced back to the eighties when thrash and early death metal bands started to incorporate doom into their sound. Dream Death are an early example which can be heard on their debut album Journey Into Mystery from 1987 along with bands such as My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Autopsy.

Death doom also had an influence on Gothic metal and played a large part in establishing the funeral doom sub-genre in the nineties.

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MY DYING BRIDE The Dreadful Hours Album Cover The Dreadful Hours
4.40 | 24 ratings
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THE RUINS OF BEVERAST Exuvia Album Cover Exuvia
4.56 | 8 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Medusa Album Cover Medusa
4.39 | 18 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Gothic Album Cover Gothic
4.25 | 31 ratings
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MY DYING BRIDE Songs of Darkness, Words of Light Album Cover Songs of Darkness, Words of Light
4.26 | 19 ratings
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AHAB The Boats of the Glen Carrig Album Cover The Boats of the Glen Carrig
4.50 | 5 ratings
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MY DYING BRIDE Turn Loose the Swans Album Cover Turn Loose the Swans
4.19 | 29 ratings
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KATATONIA Brave Murder Day Album Cover Brave Murder Day
4.09 | 32 ratings
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NOVEMBERS DOOM The Knowing Album Cover The Knowing
4.25 | 6 ratings
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THE 11TH HOUR Lacrima Mortis Album Cover Lacrima Mortis
4.20 | 6 ratings
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NOVEMBERS DOOM The Pale Haunt Departure Album Cover The Pale Haunt Departure
4.17 | 6 ratings
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NOVEMBERS DOOM Amid Its Hallowed Mirth Album Cover Amid Its Hallowed Mirth
4.20 | 5 ratings
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MY DYING BRIDE The Dreadful Hours

Album · 2001 · Death-Doom Metal
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Always one to experiment, MY DYING BRIDE perhaps went a little too far with their misstep into the unknown for the fanbase with “34.788%…Complete” which found the band adding all kinds of wild new ideas. While some like alternative metal suited the band’s signature goth doom sound to a T, others such as trip hop didn’t quite jive and although many including myself found the album to be descent, the overall consensus was that MY DYING BRIDE had hit their stride on “Like Gods Of The Sun” and were in free fall decline, however after the clarity of returning to their signature sound was once again a priority, the band bounced back with “The Light At The End Of The World” which proved they had more than enough life in them and while the album was a fine return to form and an admirable comeback, it wasn’t up to par with the high notes of “Turn Loose The Swans” and “The Angel And The Dark River.”

On THE DREADFUL HOURS, the band’s seventh studio album and first of the 21st century, the fiery creative passion that had made MY DYING BRIDE such a sensation in the early years had returned and released one of the band’s finest albums with eight outrageously delectable tracks that not only were connected to their past goth-tinged death doom days but found yet more ways to incorporate new musical elements into their, by this time, classic unmistakeable stylistic approach. The band’s core remained the same with Aaron Stainthorpe displaying his amazing range of vocal styles with the usual plaintive romantic crooning as well as an increased use of the death growls however on THE DREADFUL HOURS he expands his extreme metal vocals to include a more blackened growl approach which reminds me of Behemoth’s Nergal.

Guitarist Andrew Craighan provided the sole guitar parts on the previous album after the departure of Calvin Robertshaw and joining the crew on this album is guitarist Hamish Glencross, who with Craighan provide a more deadly twin guitar attack as they not only tackle the usual plodding doom riffs but engage in heavier high tempo death metal segments as well as adding palm muting thrash techniques to their doom riffage. The rhythm center of bassist Adrian Jackson and drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels also exercise greater liberties in their playing as each instrument takes on a more expansive role. The bass duties have become more complex and the drumming more experimental as well. While no violinist has returned, the two session keyboardists Jonny Mauding and Yasmin Ahmed dish out tasteful doses of piano tinklings, atmospheric overcast and mood modification mostly set to mournful depression.

With eight tracks that range from five minutes to over fourteen, MY DYING BRIDE cranks out one of the most diverse set lists (well not counting 34.778%) of their career with every element finding the perfect place to express itself. One of the major differences from the past is the incorporation of post-rock elements as heard on the opening title track which sounds more like an Isis album until it erupts into a death-doom frenzy. The compositions have become more complex and progressive as segments segue into others and various riffs, drumming patterns and bass lines slowly shapeshift into something completely new while the haunting atmospheric backdrop nudges it into a new comfort zone. The chemistry of this team is certainly off the charts as it has provided a new energized passion that keeps all the various tracks quite distinct from each other with countless different instrumental spontaneity erupting throughout.

The beauty of MY DRYING BRIDE is that they so successful captured their own distinct sound so early on in their game that have the ability to pretty much adapt any musical idea to the goth death-doom paradigm. Basically Stainthorpe provides the backbone to the band’s style with his charismatic vocal style with an extra anchor in the atmospheric department, however the guitar, bass and drums are pretty much allowed to do whatever they want provided they stay within the confines of the melodies. Such is the case for all of the tracks which to the casual listener will sound like business as usual but to the careful listener will find new rhythmic flows, creative instrumental interplay and a greater focus on shifting timbres, dynamics, tempos and vocals. This is perhaps my favorite MY DYING BRIDE album as it perfectly balances all the various elements which include the goth death doom metal, darkwave ambient and alternative metal with the usual sombre poetic vocal deliveries of Stainthorpe. MY DYING BRIDE not only made a comeback from their nadir but hit one of the highest notes in this apex of their entire career.

MY DYING BRIDE The Light at the End of the World

Album · 1999 · Death-Doom Metal
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After the less than positively received experimental album “34.788%…Complete,” MY DYING BRIDE quickly worked on damage control and did what any band would do when their fast sailing career hits a rock and starts to sink, namely retreat, go back to what worked and repeat! The band wasted no time getting back into the studio and releasing the sixth album THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD the following year with a more classic MY DYING BRIDE sound on display as if shouting out to the fanbase “hey! we were just playing around but we’re back!” And back they were not only with long sprawling epic compositions that displayed the full power of the gothic doom metal that had pushed them through the 90s but with the added bonus of bringing back the death metal aspects with moments of aggressive outbursts accompanied by Aaron Stainthorpe’s grating death growls.

It seems that the experimental album scared off a couple band members who weren’t jiving with the new direction. Drummer Bill Law jumped ship to be replaced by Shaun Steels (formerly of Anathema) and guitarist Calvin Robertshaw stepped down as guitarist but stuck around to become the tour manager which left the band officially as a quartet however keyboardist Jonny Maudling of Bal-Sagoth was recruited as a session player. Robertshaw does appear briefly on the album as the second guitarist on “Sear Me III” which is a thematic continuation from the two previous “Sear Me’s” on earlier albums which served as an extra indicator that MY DYING BRIDE was back in their comfort zone which is exactly where the rabidly hungry gothy death doom crowds wanted them. With Robertshaw out, it left Andrew Craighan as the only guitarist but he does double duty on THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD where he covers all guitar parts and does quite well i might add.

Stylistically THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD pick up where “Like Gods Of Sun” left off and pretends the album in between never happened however this is MY DYING BRIDE and despite returning to a more familiar approach never simply repeats the formula without some tweaking here and there. First thing that is noticeable is that despite the return to former glory, there is still no violin and no piano parts to be heard. Instead, the atmospheric dynamics are handled by the ambient swirls of the keyboard parts and authentically mimic and replace the mournful wails fairly well. It would have seemed unimaginable that such dreadful dirge could be lamented without the sad stringed vibrato and fastidious flexing of the bow but Maudling does an excellent job of layering the atmospheric overcast in such a fashion that it convincingly usurps its once unthinkable absence. While Stainthorpe returns to his classic plaintive goth-tinged crooning once again, this time around his style branches out more with more octaves covered and of course the return to aggressive outbursts of death growls however they only occur infrequently.

Also returning to the old formula is how the tracks sprawl out into slow plodding epics with trodding doom laden guitar riffs that take on two roles: one, chug and two, sustain. Both distorted power chords that sustain and the expected chugging doom march both are quite prevalent, however there are many twin guitar counterpoint attacks as well with more licks and solos sneaking through as well as the rare but satisfying sudden death metal attacks. In fact, this is a really a more guitar oriented album than the earlier ones that focused more on the violin and piano for much of their running time. As with most MY DYING BRIDE albums, this one too is quite consistent in its quality with each track standing out from the rest but never drifting too far away stylistically speaking. This comeback album was certainly what the doctor ordered and set the band back on track to crank out another batch of stellar albums. This is one band that dodged that proverbial bullet and the doom metal world was all the better for it.

MY DYING BRIDE Turn Loose the Swans

Album · 1993 · Death-Doom Metal
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MY DYING BRIDE established a very unique metal style all the way back in 1990 when they formed and merged the disparate sub-genres of doom and death metal with Gothic rock. Along with Paradise Lost and Anathema, MY DYING BRIDE was a pioneer in establishing the marriage of doom and death metal but took a slightly different fork in the road when they created one of the most interesting avenues of the newly fused metal hybrid. After a series of EPs and their debut album “As The Flower Withers,” MY DYING BRIDE immediately stood out for their inclusion of the violin which set a completely new tone in the metal universe and one which allowed the musical flow to evolve quite differently with the deathened growls and plodding doom riffs going along for the ride.

While the EPs and debut album instantly caught the attention of the underground metal scene, it was the band’s second album TURN LOOSE THE SWANS that took it all to the next level and popularized the band’s signature style that was completely unheard by the early 90s extreme mental crowds and had established a cornerstone of inspiration for various strains of doom / Gothic metal hybridization ever since. While the previous releases had taken more liberties in the death metal department with high tempo outbursts, TURN LOOSE THE SWANS slowed things down considerably and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe restrained from the relentless growls and added more plaintive clean vocals as well as poetic spoken words. Likewise with the extreme metal speed toned down, the role of the violin became a major staple of the band which allowed melancholic atmospheric build ups to keep the musical flow steeped in lugubrious longevity.

Violinist Martin Powell was now a full member but also brought more cards to the table. He was also a keyboardist and added a whole new dimension to the band’s established death doom sound with more liberties in orchestration and layers of atmospheric funereal melancholy which likewise allowed the music to develop at a slower pace with varying dynamics entering the scene. While diminished from the previous releases, the heavier passages with death growls are still present but now used more as crescendoes after long bouts of atmospheric doom build up reaching the logical apices. The album establishes its atmospheric prowess right from the beginning with the opening “Sear Me MCMXCIII” which avoid any guitar, bass and drum metal aspects and instead ushers in a sequence of depressive piano arpeggios augmented with Stainthorpe’s disconsolate Gothic vocal touches and a tear-inducing violin backdrop.

The album is actually bookmarked by this metal-free style as the closer “Black God” follows suit in an even darker manner which includes the lovely feminine touch of Zena’s vocal charm in conjunct with Stainthorpe’s poetically spoken somberness. MY DYING BRIDE’s second release TURN LOOSE THE SWANS has been describes as Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the ears which is like a musical melodrama that takes on new Gothic heights in a metal context. The album was considered to be a landmark creative development in the hybridization of death-doom and Gothic metal but most of all cranked out an incredible plodding collection of orchestrated metal masterpieces with the longer tracks such as the transcendental “The Crown Of Sympathy” stealing the show with its innovative progressive meanderings through different musical segments and stylistic juxtapositions. No sophomore slump here. This was only the beginning of a surprisingly long-lasting career and a metal masterpiece at that.

ACID WITCH Black Christmas Evil EP

EP · 2018 · Death-Doom Metal
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Detroit, MI based ACID WITCH has been around now for over a decade after having formed in 2007 and have released three full albums to date: “Witchtanic Hallucinations (2008),” “Stoned (2011)” and “Evil Sound Screamers (2017).” While the band has found itself on the radar of the underground metal scene they haven’t exactly become a household name…. yet. In addition to the three full-length releasees ACID WITCH has been a tad more prolific in releasing shorter length EPs mostly during the Halloween season but the year 2018 finds a new strategy, that is Halloween at Christmas time!

Yes, indeed. ACID WITCH don’t crank out a bunch of wimpy Christmas tracks that totally go against their dark imagery and occult leanings, not one bit. With this two track release titled BLACK CHRISTMAS EVIL EP, the band sticks to their standard death doom metal mix of grunted shrieky vocals, slow plodding riffs with heavily distorted guitar heft. This is definitely the type of music that will get you on Santa’s naughty list and lumps of coal in your stocking but really, who cares when there’s Christmas music like this tailor made for true metalheads!

“Black Christmas” begins with vocal samplings, much like a White Zombie album of the 90s with creepy sound effects and some spoken dialogue that discusses Christmas traditions before the thundering waves of death doom strike with a vengeance. No Christmas niceties allowed as Shagrat regurgitates some of the most deliciously sinister vocal performances of his entire career as he gleefully narrates a tale of the holiday season gone evil. Nice touches of keyboards augment the evil that has taken over like Voldemort at Hogwarts.

Starting with some jingling bells and a somewhat jazzy schizoid bass line, a few archival vocal samplings gleefully narrate the possibilities of Christmas evil as the second track “Christmas Eve (You Better Watch Out!) begins. “You better believe in Santa or he will slay you” is brilliantly uttered from the narrator before the chugging death doom assault begins. This is great! I can’t help think that Spinal Tap with their 1992 lauded “Christmas With The Devil” has passed the baton to a new generation of Christmas blasphemy!

Tired of faux Christmas tributes where bands that profess to be badass suddenly make music that your grandma would go gaga over? Well, here’s some Christmas music to slay all that phony baloney cheerful holiday spirit. This is the type of stuff i want to hear during the holiday season and if the Grinch had this when he was still in scrooge mode surely he would’ve listened to this in his cave on the top of the mountain turned up to 11! The Whos down in Who-ville would not like it a lot. Santa with a switchblade! Oh yeah!!!!


Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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I've never explored The Ruins of Beverast before, but the notes of those who've previously delved into that particular dungeon suggest an interesting progression on the part of its architects. Records suggest that the Ruins began on a foundation of atmospheric black metal, before the Beverastian ruler Alexander von Meilenwald took a turn into death-doom territory.

Certainly, the treasure I found in the region known as Exuvia bears out this idea, because the foundations of atmospheric black metal - blast beats and ambient influences mostly - are frequently evident even amid the towering structures of death-doom, lending them a certain stark majesty which makes the Ruins stand apart from the pack.

There's also a certain tribal influence detectable - mostly in the form of distant chants; I am not particularly well-placed to judge whether these inclusions have been chosen with care to ensure an apt selection appropriate to the material being presented as well as respecting the original source, or whether it's some cheap cultural appropriation of some cool-sounding noises which von Meilenwald doesn't even understand and inadvertently renders the material hilarious if you actually knew how inappropriate the choice was... but gosh, does it sound cool.

"Exuvia" refers to the discarded shell of an arthropod - you know, crabs or spiders or insects, those kind of critters - after it's moulted, much as the Beverastian people moulted their old atmospheric black metal ways for a more experimental path. Having come away from the Ruins of Beverast bearing these intriguing samples, I think I will be exploring more of the fallen city sooner or later.

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