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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
4.44 | 31 ratings
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THE RUINS OF BEVERAST Exuvia Album Cover Exuvia
4.52 | 13 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Medusa Album Cover Medusa
4.39 | 23 ratings
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NOVEMBERS DOOM The Knowing Album Cover The Knowing
4.42 | 9 ratings
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MY DYING BRIDE Turn Loose the Swans Album Cover Turn Loose the Swans
4.22 | 35 ratings
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MY DYING BRIDE Songs of Darkness, Words of Light Album Cover Songs of Darkness, Words of Light
4.24 | 22 ratings
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SEPTICFLESH Esoptron Album Cover Esoptron
4.36 | 7 ratings
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NOVEMBERS DOOM The Novella Reservoir Album Cover The Novella Reservoir
4.33 | 6 ratings
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NOVEMBERS DOOM The Pale Haunt Departure Album Cover The Pale Haunt Departure
4.25 | 8 ratings
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KATATONIA Brave Murder Day Album Cover Brave Murder Day
4.08 | 37 ratings
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THE 11TH HOUR Lacrima Mortis Album Cover Lacrima Mortis
4.20 | 6 ratings
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CELESTIAL SEASON Solar Lovers Album Cover Solar Lovers
4.20 | 5 ratings
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MY DYING BRIDE The Dreadful Hours

Album · 2001 · Death-Doom Metal
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Following on the footsteps of their previous album, in 2001 My Dying Bride completed their full return to form after a couple of full-lengths that had disappointed more than a few fans. The Dreadful Hours is a fantastic album, containing some of the best songs ever written by the British doomsters. Alas, it also contains a handful of songs that I struggle not to see as “fillers”. Despite its somewhat uneven tracklist, The Dreadful Hours sits tall in the band’s discography as one of their best records to date.

Let’s start with the positives. The Dreadful Hours is the culmination of My Dying Bride’s slow metamorphosis from death/doom frontrunners to purveyors of a hybrid style halfway between gothic metal and doom. This process of transition had started on their 1995 album The Angel and the Dark River and saw the band increasingly streamlining their songs and injecting more and more accessible melodies into the music. Songs like the title-track, “The Raven and the Rose”, “Le Figlie della Tempesta” and “My Hope, the Destroyer” are splendid examples of the musical vision of the Yorkshire band. Deeply melodic, yet incredibly dark and morose (also for the subject matters, such a child abuse on the title-track), these songs perfectly combine the slow-tempos and tortuous guitar riffs of doom with the melodic allure of gothic and dark metal.

What is even more astonishing is how different from one another these songs sound. The title-track starts with an almost post-rock clean guitar riff, before descending in doom/death territory with Aaron Stainthorpe’s cavernous growls and Hamish Glencross and Andrew Craighan’s lead-like guitars. “The Raven and the Rose” is balanced between furious (and fast!) guitar riffs and a beautifully orchestrated melodic section, with thick swathes of organ and synths and a monstrous performance by drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels, who here truly gives a meaning to the words “drum fills”. “Le Figlie della Tempesta” is more atmospheric, almost dark metal, as it dances away on a delicate guitar arpeggio and Aaron’s beautiful clean vocals. Meanwhile, “My Hope, the Destroyer” is a gothic beast that again speeds up the tempo relative to the usual sludgy pace of death/doom. All this variation makes The Dreadful Hours one of the most diverse and exciting album the band had written up to that point of their career. It makes for a truly engaging listen, which never bores and surprises again and again with new twists that are ever so tasteful and appropriate.

Alas, the second half of the album does not match the quality of the opening trio of tracks or “My Hope, the Destroyer”. “Black Heart Romance”, “A Cruel Taste of Winter” and “The Deepest of All Hearts” inhabit more traditional doom territories. There are some surprises and interesting sections (the beautiful clean guitar flourishes on “Black Heart Romance”), but the general feel is one of sluggishness and lack of inspiration. The album closer “Return to the Beautiful” deserves a word apart. This is a re-work of “The Return of the Beautiful” from the band’s debut album, As the Flower Withers, when My Dying Bride were firmly playing death/doom metal. Inevitably, this last song stands in stark contrast with the mellower and more sophisticated gothic/doom of the rest of the record. As an album closer this totally backfires as it concludes the record incongruously, with a completely different sound and atmosphere than the rest of the album.

Despite containing hits and misses, The Dreadful Hours is one of my favourite albums from My Dying Bride. Its moments of brilliance far exceed the duller episodes and the diverse nature of his tracks paint a beautiful and exciting picture of the band’s sound evolution at the dawn of the new millennium.

MY DYING BRIDE The Light at the End of the World

Album · 1999 · Death-Doom Metal
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After two disappointing albums (the mediocre Like Ghosts of the Sun and the failed experiment to modernize their sound which is 34.788%...Complete), My Dying Bride were quick to jump on the horse again and try to show their fans that they were still a relevant voice in the metal landscape at the turn of the millennium. Seen in this light, The Light at the End of the World is certainly a resounding success. Ditching the experimentalism of their previous record, My Dying Bride embraced again their sorrowful doomy identity (including their original logo!) and showed the fans they could still write memorable death/doom/gothic tunes like no other. At the same time, the album only contains a couple of tracks that can truly be numbered among the band’s best, while the rest of the songs are little more than respectable extras.

In terms of songwriting, on this album My Dying Bride return to their tried and true formula of combining snail-paced tempos, long-winding and tortuous guitar riffs, dramatic keyboards (played by Bal Sagoth’s Jonny Maudling who replaced as a guest the band’s former keyboard player Martin Powell), lots of drum fills (played by Shaun Taylor-Steels, who replaced Rick Miah), and Aaron Stainthorpe’s trademark lamented crooning vocals. Aaron also throws-in growled vocals on a couple of songs, as well a half-spoken recitation on the album’s splendid title track. Structurally, the songs are complex and go through several different sections throughout their duration, with plenty of tempo changes and accelerations/decelerations. As with all My Dying Bride’s albums, this is not music for the faint of heart and it requires some time investment to be properly appreciated.

Yet, many songs on The Light at the End of the World showcase instantly memorable melodies carried by either the vocals or the guitars, which greatly facilitate their assimilation compared to the band’s previous output. This trimming-down and streamlining of the sound is a process that the band had already inaugurated on their 1995 album The Angel and the Dark River, and marks the transition from their early death/doom style to the gothic/doom sound they will embrace at later stages in their career. On The Light at the End of the World My Dying Bride are still in transition, though the desire to write more accessible songs is evident on tracks like the chorus-driven “The Isis Script”, for example.

The album flows away pleasantly, with some peaks and some declines. Among the strongest songs there is certainly the title-track, a 10+ minute beast that is as dark and desperate as the night itself. A beautiful tale of lost love, the song ebbs and flows between Aaron’s sombre recitation and a beautifully decadent vocal melody that keep returning again and again throughout the duration of the song. I also like a lot the three “shorter” and more compact pieces that follow the title-track, “The Fever Sea”, “Into the Lake of Ghosts” and “The Isis Script”, which all contain some great, attention-grabbing melodic intuitions. While not as perfect as some of the tracks on the band’s subsequent album (The Dreadful Hours), these tracks showcase all the potential of the gothic/doom sound My Dying Bride were developing at the time. On the other hand, the record sags a bit when it hits the longer compositions, like “Edenbeast” and “Christliar”, which overstay their welcome with tortuous, unyielding melodies that verge on the boring.

Despite a few missteps and a mastodontic length of 71 minutes that discourages repeated listens, The Light at the End of the World is a fine album and a worthwhile descent into misery. It represents a clear return to form for the British band, which was needed after two albums that disappointed more than a few fans. That things were on the upswing for the Bride will become even clearer after a couple of years, when the band will release The Dreadful Hours, which stands still today as one of the best records in their whole discography.

MY DYING BRIDE Turn Loose the Swans

Album · 1993 · Death-Doom Metal
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One album under their belt, and British doomsters My Dying Bride were already looking for new horizons and exploring new ways to express themselves. The aspect of Turn Loose the Swans that I found the most striking is how fearlessly experimental its seven tracks are. In the early 1990s metal was at the beginning of a period of great experimentation and fellow labelmates Anathema and Paradise Lost would also soon start pushing the boundaries of death/doom, but this early on in their career My Dying Bride were clearly at the forefront of this forward-looking movement.

Turn Loose the Swans retains the snail-paced tempos of doom as well as the labyrinthine, slow-winding melodic guitar riffs that are a trademark of the genre, but also innovates along several dimensions. There are strong romantic gothic vibes on the record. Martin Powell’s use of the violin, delicate piano arpeggios and cavernous organ chords play a big role in creating this atmosphere. And so do Aaron Stainthorpe’s bereft croons, which mark a stark departure from the growls of the debut album. He does still use his extreme vocal style on a couple of tracks, but on most songs Aaron resorts to a peculiar clean style, halfway between singing and recitation. In addition, female vocals are used on closer “Black God”, hinting to the “beauty and the beast” genre that will soon gain popularity in Europe. All these elements combined create an incredibly dense, downcast and romantic atmosphere that permeates throughout the whole album and gives it a strong, immediately recognizable identity.

Admittedly, one has to be in the right mood to appreciate the extremely bleak atmosphere of the album, so this is a difficult album that may not be for everyone. This is even more so when one considers that My Dying Bride are often melodically unyielding. The guitar riffs crawl around, indulging in melodies that are far from instantly accessible. Aaron’s vocals move in similar directions and it will be hard to find anything catchy or that immediately grabs the listener on the 58+ minutes of the record.

But those listeners who want to invest attention and time into this record, will find many hidden gems just behind its dense surface. The complex, unconventional structures of songs like “Your River” and “The Crown of Sympathy” are highly engaging and keep the listener on their toes, unsure of what may hide just behind the next corner. Clean guitar arpeggios swap melodies with the violin and heavily distorted guitars, creating a rich tapestry of sound. Rick Miah’s free-form drumming is almost like an additional lead instrument, harking back to the days of progressive rock where drummers were so much more than just tempo-keepers (I keep thinking of the fill-fest of those early King Crimsons’ albums when I hear Rick’s playing on this album). Martin Powell’s violin is certainly one of the elements that stand out the most, again adding a progressive flair to the proceedings. His choice of sound and use of keyboards is also impressive.

There are no weak tracks on the album, except perhaps the title-track that I find slightly too conventional and perhaps a tad uninspired. On the other hand, there is a clear masterpiece that stands out above all other compositions: “The Crown of Sympathy”. This song is incredible. It’s an unstoppable tourbillion of great musical ideas, from its understated beginning to the hallucinated downward spiral of its second half where the song slowly deconstructs itself, before picking up again to close with a beautiful, fading guitar lead. The lyrics are also beautiful. Aaron Stainthorpe is slightly monothematic when it comes to song lyrics (love, lost love, death of a loved one … you get the gist), but here these themes find a very poetic expression, with a touch of personal lyricism that elevates the text above the rest.

Overall, Turn Loose the Swans is a very good album. I don’t love it since, at the time I listened to it, it did not speak much to me on an emotional level. However, I do know that, if one day I will be in the right frame of mind, this is one of those records that can leave a mark on one’s soul. Regardless of whether it personally touches you or not, it’s hard not to admire what My Dying Bride have achieved here. They have experimented fearlessly with texture and structure and, in doing so, they have expanded the boundaries of death/doom to invent a new gothic hybrid that will be a template for bands to follow for decades. And you cannot say that of many bands or albums.

MY DYING BRIDE The Thrash of Naked Limbs

EP · 1993 · Death-Doom Metal
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After Martin Powell had served as session violinist on My Dying Bride's debut album and the preceding EP, The Thrash of Naked Limbs marked his entry as a full member of the lineup, with his violin contributions adding a distinctive touch to the material here which helps My Dying Bride stand apart from labelmates Paradise Lost and other explorers of the death-doom subgenre.

Between this and the odd keyboard contribution, things seem to be drifting somewhat in the sort of gothic metal direction which Paradise Lost had at this point gone a little further in exploring, but by and large the centre of gravity is still within the realms already explored on As the Flower Withers. If you dig the sound of early My Dying Bride, this will make the EP (or its compilation appearance on Trilogy) a tempting proposition, offering 18 minutes of beautifully grim mope-metal.

ACID WITCH Witchtanic Hellucination

Album · 2008 · Death-Doom Metal
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"Witchtanic Hellucinations" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Michigan based doom/death metal act Acid Witch. The album was released through Razorback Recordings in October 2008. Acid Witch were formed in 2007 and released a demo that same year before being signed for the release of "Witchtanic Hellucinations".

So it´s not a particularly seasoned act (or at least they haven´t played together that long in this constellation) although all members have played with various other underground acts (Shitfucker, Reaper, Skindcrawler, and Harbinger, just to mention a few). Stylistically the music on the album is psychadelic tinged stoner doom/death metal with lyrics about drugs, witchcraft, and horror. Song titles like "Witches Tits", "Rabid Werewitch", and "Broomstick Bitch", tell that story too, and also the story that there is a humourous cartoonish/twisted fairytale touch to both the lyrics and the band image.

The instrumental part of the music consists of heavy stoner doomy riffs and leads right out of the 70s Black Sabbath playbook, heavy rhythms, psychadelic effects, and some dark burping growling vocals in front (which wouldn´t sound wrong on any Carcass influenced goregrind release). It´s actually only the latter element, which connects the material on "Witchtanic Hellucinations" to death metal, because the remaining part of the music is stoner doom through and through. The combination of the instrumental stoner doom elements and the mucilaginous growling vocals is what makes the material unique, but it´s also an odd combination, which takes some getting used to, and which also wears a bit thin after a while. It´s somewhat charming alright, but also a bit one-dimensional and tedious towards the end of the album.

"Witchtanic Hellucinations" is well performed and also features a suitingly dark and organic sound production, so upon conclusion it´s a quality release by Acid Witch and definitely an interesting debut album with a relatively unique sound. A couple of more hooks, and a little more variation between tracks could have elevated the album from good to great, but as it is, it´s still an entertaining release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

death-doom metal movie reviews


Movie · 2004 · Death-Doom Metal
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Considering this was actually released on VHS in 1990, Paradise Lost must surely overestimate the passion and loyalty of their fan club. Filmed in Bradford in 1989 to coincide with the band’s debut album, this is a 30-minute video of the band playing on stage. They barely move around, you barely see glimpses of the crowd, and in fact, you barely see vocalist Nick Holmes’ face due to his shaggy hair constantly covering it.

I’m not really a fan of their earlier, death metal growly material anyway, but even if I was, this video isn’t enjoyable or interesting to watch at all. Re-released in 2004 on DVD, this isn’t worth the 50p I spent on it if not for the fact that I do, in fact, actually like this band, and have a compulsive obsession to own everything a band puts out.

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