Death-Doom Metal

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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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4.30 | 17 ratings
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death-doom metal Music Reviews

PARADISE LOST Medusa

Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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MorniumGoatahl
The UK's Paradise Lost are a band I've always liked despite not being that into the genre that they are most associated with: gothic metal. In a genre that seems flooded with so called beauty and the beast bands, they stand out thanks to Nick Holmes' commanding clean vocals, which depending on the album can have some classic James Hetfield vibes to them. But Paradise Lost started their career as an extreme metal band and were a pioneer of the death-doom metal style and it's this style of their early albums that I've personally always been most fond of, with Gothic being my favourite. The sudden reintroduction of death growling vocals on The Plague Within, didn't change that although that album has risen to become one of my favourites from the band. The band's latest album Medusa though, changes everything about my relationship with the band and has already become my favourite album of theirs.

That's because Medusa is Paradise Lost's first death-doom metal album since the early nineties and thanks to the wonders of modern recording and production equipment and techniques, is the most powerful they've ever sounded when playing this style. Sure, there's a brief resurgence of their gothic metal style (with added growling like on The Plague Within) for a couple of tracks, The Longest Winter and the title track while Blood & Chaos is a bit too upbeat to be considered a doom song, but otherwise they've slowed their tempo right down and Nick Holmes is growling even more than on the previous album and certainly in a more death metal manner than is used on the Shades of God album. I don't thinking they've ever been heavier.

Fearless Sky is the perfect opener for this album. Despite it's slow and crushing sound, there's also a triumphant feel to it, especially in the chorus growls from Holmes. Some clean vocals are used, but it's not until those middle tracks that they ever become dominant on the album and by the time of No Passage For the Dead they've back in the centre stage again. I like Nick as a clean singer and am glad he didn't throw those vocals out completely, but despite years of not using growls in the band he can still deliver them and arguably is even better than ever. His appointment to the death metal band Bloodbath may have something to do with that.

The standard version of Medusa is eight tracks long but it's worth picking up the special edition if you can which will also net you two extra tracks: Shrine and Symbolic Virtue. Which both, especially the latter, feel more like The Plague Within or even earlier material compared to the death-doom of the main album, they're definitely worth having. Symbolic Virtue is a good reminder of why Paradise Lost are one of if not the best gothic metal band despite this return to their roots.

PARADISE LOST Medusa

Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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Kev Rowland
Formed in 1988 in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Paradise Lost are not only known as one of the most distinctive acts in metal - their music arguably defined the gothic subgenre and raised doom metal to a new level - they are also considered pioneers of an entire musical generation. Never ones to hesitate to explore undiscovered paths, they have encompassed many genres during their career - from their death metal beginnings to the more mainstream electronic dark-pop album ‘Host’, electronic influences on ‘Symbol Of Life’ alongside majestic gothic moments. Vocalist Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, along with bassist Steve Edmondson have never ceased to follow their own vision. The quartet has been an inseparable unit since its inception, with only the drummer's position changing hands several times. The latest incumbent, Waltteri Väyrynen, is only 22 years old, while the band have now been in existence for nearly 30!

With their last album, they showed that they were starting to return to their roots, and that has journey has progressed with ‘Medusa’, which is certainly one of, if not the, heaviest album they have ever released. Here we have doom and gothic metal hitting head on and being brought to live with vocals that owe more to the death scene than any other. There is a quality here that is hard to define, as they bring all the misery of Northern England to bear in 43 minutes of depressing, intense, music. Here is a band that is refusing to rest on their considerable laurels, but instead continue to push boundaries, and to my ears this is easily the most complete work they have ever produced. The drum and bass are crushing, the riffs are solid slabs of lead, while the solos are uplifting and almost cathartic while Nick Holmes shows no sign at all of mellowing in his middle age. I discovered that the more I listened to the album, the more I kept turning up the volume, until the neighbours the other side of the neighbours could share it as well. This is certainly one of the finest metal albums to come out of the UK this year.

SPECTRAL VOICE Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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Vim Fuego
Once upon a time, someone hit upon the great idea of pulling together death metal’s distorted heavy guitars and gargled vocals with doom metal’s pedestrian pace to create one of metal’s most vital and creative, but simultaneously depressing and gloomy, genres. As with all things metal, there could be more than one answer as to who came up with the idea first, but it matters not. What matters is the legacy of this momentous combination, from its earliest tentative steps through to today.

Paradise Lost’s debut album, the rather unimaginatively named “Lost Paradise” was one of the first examples of the genre to actually gain a wide release. It took death metal tunings and vocals, and played them at doom metal speeds. The band really hit their straps with the more gothic sounding “Gothic” (hmm, is that a pattern forming?) which also introduced the element of clean sung female vocals, and less of the deathly side of things. The band’s third album “Shades of God” saw the doom starting to dominate, as the death metal influences started to disappear.

There were also Paradise Lost’s great buddies from the north of England My Dying Bride and Anathema. Just about every early release by My Dying Bride was an exercise in soul crushing despair, with wonderful titles like “Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium” and “The Angel and the Dark River”. With less of a death metal sound than Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride were still crushingly heavy. Were? They still fucking are!

Anathema were just as despairingly heavy as the other two, although they lost their death metal influence a lot sooner. No matter, their later works like “A Natural Disaster”, “Judgement”, or “A Fine Day to Exit” are far more subtle exercises in desperation.

Skin Chamber threw an industrial element into the mix. Although inspired by Napalm Death, Skin Chamber came out sounding like Godflesh raping The Swans (ooh, The Swans! I forgot the fucking Swans!). Created by Paul Lemos, and Chris Moriarty of experimental band Controlled Bleeding, the original intention was to produce short, sharp sonic blasts, like Napalm Death was doing, under the name Fat Hacker. However, given time, a recording budget, and the aforementioned Swans’ album “COP” on heavy rotation, the result was two legendary albums of industrial doom-death which have rarely been emulated since. The project was put to bed after just the two albums, but was about to be resurrected in 2008 when Moriarty’s untimely death put paid to it.

Disembowelment er, or diSEMBOWELMENT, as they spelled it, was an Australian band formed in 1989 from the ashes of grindcore band Bacteria. The band became famous for their funereal tempos interspersed with occasional bursts of speed. Their only album “Transcendence into the Peripheral” is still regarded as an essential album of its kind today. In 1993, band members Renato Gallina and Matthew Skarajew formed the highly respected ambient/fusion/world music outfit Trial of the Bow. All in all, this was quite some achievement for a band which only existed for four years and never performed live.

Closer to home, (well, my home anyway) there was Sinistrous Diabolus from Christchurch, New Zealand. The three piece band produced an absolutely stunning demo in 1993 named “Opus One”. The three tracks were far beyond the realm of what any other band in New Zealand was doing at the time, combining doom and death metal with anti-Christian black metal imagery. Like many a great band at the time, if Sinistrous Diabolus had been based in Europe or the US, they would have snagged a record deal, but New Zealand was and still is too far from the rest of the world. The band lay dormant for many years, but was revived in the 2010s, and has been emitting occasional slabs of filthy doom-death ever since.

So why a mention of all these excellent albums of days gone by when this is supposed to be a review of Spectral Voice’s “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing”? Because “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” is unbelievably tedious, and all the previous selections mentioned are better examples of doom-death metal.

All the ingredients for a good sound are there. Spectral Voice are undeniably heavy. The sound is utterly crushing and extreme. Somehow, it still doesn't work.

There is so little inspiration or effort in the music its surprising even the musicians themselves don’t get bored with it. Yes, it is supposed to be slow and heavy. Yes, it is decently executed doom/death. Yes, the band members in Spectral Voice are highly skilled musicians. These things are not what’s at fault here. The biggest problem is it is unoriginal, predictable, interchangeable, and ultimately dull.

This album has had a lot of praise from social media, but it seems like another case of hype building up the mediocre to a status far beyond that it deserves. Music is supposed to inspire some sort of strong reaction in a listener. “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” inspires apathy.

That’s not to say “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” is a total loss. While slow-paced plodding gets a bit monotonous, when the band uses a bit of tempo things improve. “Dissolution” blasts into life after a dreary opening passage, but this is over 40 minutes into the album. There is little to offer which has not been done before. While near faultlessly performed, “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” has no character or vitality, and is just not an essential release.

SPECTRAL VOICE Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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666sharon666
The fusion of doom metal and death metal can result in a number of vastly different sounding albums all being branded under the same 'death-doom metal' banner. From more melodic and gothic stuff like the recent (and early) Paradise Lost outings to slowed to a snail's pace crossovers with the funeral doom metal style and even something like Exuvia by The Ruins of Beverast that throws in all kinds of unusual influences like tribal ambient. Then you get an album like Eroded Corridors of Unbeing, the 2017 debut full-length by US act Spectral Voice, which instead of feeling like a doom metal album with death metal influences like a lot of death-doom metal can be described as, is more like a true fusion of the two: in some ways it's a death-doom metal album, in others it's a doom-death metal album.

I say this because there's plenty of instances during the album where Spectral Voice's music is much more death metal based than it is in doom metal, especially during tracks like Lurking Gloom where they pick up the tempo and go beyond what is normally considered acceptable for doom metal, even the more heavy metal influenced so called 'traditional' style. Maybe that shouldn't be a surprise when most of the band's line-up also belongs to the death metal act Blood Incantation, so they're hardly greenhorns (Spectral Voice themselves have also previously released no less than five demos and two splits) in the genre.

Yes, more often the music on Eroded Corridors of Unbeing is slow to mid-paced, but it certainly equally has the sound of a death metal album in terms of riffing style. And it sounds like a particularly filthy death metal album at that. There's no modern squeaky clean polished production work been done here and the band show everything they can do offer perfectly without it. Through it all though the album builds an atmosphere of oppressive menace, which is in no way mitigated by the inclusion of melodic guitar lines and notes and ambient sound effects during the brief moments the album allows you to come up for air. I can't understand the vocals, but in this case I don't need to: they function perfectly as an extra instrument, adding an extra layer to the evil cacophony of guitars, bass and drums.

Eroded Corridors of Unbeing is a mid-length album, containing five songs. I find that some death-doom metal albums can end up seeming like they've been drawn out for too long, but there's no danger of that impression forming here. These five songs are packed to the brim with quality riffs, and though it sure doesn't sound pretty the unpolished production gives the album a certain kind of charm that has me instantly hooked in Spectral Voice's style. I really think this one is a special album. It's quickly become my new personal favourite doom and death metal album of the year. Play it loud and often.

SPECTRAL VOICE Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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adg211288
Boasting a line-up that includes 75% of the US death metal act Blood Incantation (who released their debut album Starspawn last year), Paul Riedl (guitars), Morris Kolontyrsky (guitars) and Jeff Barrett (bass), with a line-up completed by Eli Wendler (drums, vocals), comes Spectral Voice, an ominous and menacing new entry in the directory of death-doom metal. These guys have been around for five years now and already have a number of demo and split releases to their name. They used to be a five-piece with Casey Hogan (Clad in Darkness) as their vocalist, but Wendler took over the role in 2016 in time for Eroded Corridors of Unbeing (2017), the group's rather unsettling debut studio album.

Heavily channelling the death metal element for their music, with a small dash of black metal for good measure, Spectral Voice's Eroded Corridors of Unbeing creates a vibe that is undeniably all about doom metal. Even during the parts of the music that feature faster guitar riffs atypical for the doom genre, that are more like they're straight out of old school death metal, they manage to make sound absolutely sinister, filling their listeners with dread. It's a feeling shared by the more atmospheric and slow parts. The band's immense, powerful sound feels completely evil and rotten to its very core.

It's often the case with new bands, especially extreme metal bands, that the actual songwriting ends up being the weak link in a group even when they've hit on a winning sound and have good musicianship, because the individual songs don't make an impression. That's not the case with Eroded Corridors of Unbeing, which shows the guys in Spectral Voice to be very capable and creative songwriters. Often throwing out traditional song structure, each one of the album's five tracks feels jam packed with ideas, whether it be the 13:59 long Visions of Psychic Dismemberment that uses its long duration to move through multiple distinct sections or the instrumental Lurking Gloom where the band really rev up their speed to deliver some pummelling riff work. Their production work is far from polished, in fact it sounds pretty filthy, but nothing is lost in the murk. The guitar riffs stand out, as does the band's flair for haunting melodic notes that can regularly be heard behind the distortion, subtly adding atmosphere to the aggression in one wicked, unholy union. The growls from Eli Wendler are also worth taking note of, since he uses a whole range of styles. Nothing monotonous about his performance at all!

With Eroded Corridors of Unbeing Spectral Voice have a record where there's none of the usual pitfalls that extreme metal styles can fall into. Many bands, especially new ones, tend to make records where everything sounds exactly the same all the time, meaning that even if they are good musicians and have a good sound production their songs end up lacking identity. That's definitely not to the case with this one. Their music may sit in the dark and gloomy end of metal, but Spectral Voice are shining a bright light on the future of the extreme metal scene.

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