Doom Metal

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Doom metal is an extreme form of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much 'thicker' or 'heavier' sound than other metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom. The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, who formed a prototype for doom metal with songs such as "Black Sabbath" and "Into the Void". During the first half of the 1980s, a number of bands from England (Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General) and the United States (Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Trouble) defined doom metal as a distinct genre.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doom_metal

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • Nightfly (leader)
  • MorniumGoatahl

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SAINT VITUS Die Healing Album Cover Die Healing
SAINT VITUS
4.75 | 8 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Be Forewarned Album Cover Be Forewarned
PENTAGRAM
4.53 | 15 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Album Cover Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
CANDLEMASS
4.44 | 50 ratings
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SOLITUDE AETURNUS Through the Darkest Hour Album Cover Through the Darkest Hour
SOLITUDE AETURNUS
4.63 | 7 ratings
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CELTIC FROST Monotheist Album Cover Monotheist
CELTIC FROST
4.41 | 37 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Last Rites Album Cover Last Rites
PENTAGRAM
4.49 | 14 ratings
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AHAB The Call of the Wretched Sea Album Cover The Call of the Wretched Sea
AHAB
4.47 | 11 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Nightfall Album Cover Nightfall
CANDLEMASS
4.37 | 41 ratings
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ARGUS Boldly Stride The Doomed Album Cover Boldly Stride The Doomed
ARGUS
4.42 | 15 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Shades of God Album Cover Shades of God
PARADISE LOST
4.37 | 29 ratings
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SAINT VITUS V Album Cover V
SAINT VITUS
4.67 | 4 ratings
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ESOTERIC The Pernicious Enigma Album Cover The Pernicious Enigma
ESOTERIC
4.41 | 11 ratings
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doom metal Music Reviews

HAMFERÐ Tamsins Likam

Album · 2018 · Funeral Doom Metal
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Nightfly
I’ve only just discovered Faroese doom metal band Hamferð. Their first album Evst released in 2013 having totally passed me by. Still, better late than never and I’m certainly glad to have caught up with them now as Tamsins Likam is the best album I’ve heard in the doom realm for quite some time.

Tamsins Likam is part three of a trilogy that began with their 2010 EP Vilst Er Siðsta Fet. It’s the story of a man who’s racked with guilt over the fate of his family. The story however goes backwards, starting with his death on the EP. Evst was the run up to his death and Tamsins Likam goes back to an earlier time where he and his wife are dealing with the loss of a child. You’ll have to take my word for this however as all the lyrics are sung in Faroese.

Funeral doom is a genre that I generally can only take in small doses despite enjoying work from Evoken, Shape Of Despair and Ahab in particular. The deathly slow tempos wear a bit thin with me after a while and it can sometimes come across as a little one dimensional with little room for variation despite many bands injecting atmospheric and mellower moments between the crushingly heavy riffs. Whilst Hamferð take funeral doom as a starting point, there is more to them than this. Sure there’s the expected doom drenched guitar riffs but drummer Remi Johannesen has a musicality not often seen in the genre amongst drummers with some inventive patterns shaping the song structures. I know very little about the Faroe Islands other than it’s around 200 miles north of the top end of Scotland, but through their music they manage to convey a feeling of cold stark beauty echoing my impression of the place, or what I imagine it to be anyway. This gives their music a unique flavour making them stand out from the doom crowd.

The album kicks off with Fylgisflog in a very understated way. Sparse guitar work and Jón Aldará’s clean mournful vocals take centre stage until it explodes into more familiar doom territory with Aldará using growls for the heavier sections. The music has a cinematic feel for want of a better way of putting it, aided by atmospheric keyboard work, with big riffs displaying a melodic sensibility with much musical tension present. There’s a beauty in this music that in a way reminds me of the way Opeth used to do it in their metal days – the way they could inject beauty in and around the most heavy riffs. Don’t mistake this for thinking they sound like Opeth though but you could say Hamferð are to doom what Opeth were to death metal. This sets the scene for much of the album with quiet restraint juxtaposed against the heavier sections. An exception is the death doom of Hon Syndrast which sounds huge from start to finish with some imaginative chord progressions, riffs and time changes making for a totally captivating listen and is perhaps my favourite of the entire album.

Tamsins Likam is a complete masterpiece of metal and I was so impressed I immediately ordered their last album Evst and plan on doing likewise with their first EP shortly. So early in the year yet I can already declare with confidence that this will be one of the best albums I’ll hear in 2018.

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.

DEVIL ELECTRIC Devil Electric

Album · 2017 · Doom Metal
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DippoMagoo
Doom metal is not a genre I'm very experienced with, as I don't even know many of the more famous bands in the genre and in fact, for a long period when first getting into metal, it was a genre I struggled to listen to at all, simply finding it too slow and plodding. However, over time I've come to enjoy two particular styles of it, that being death doom in the style of bands such as Novembers Doom and early Katatonia, as well as the the more recent wave of heavy psych and classic hard rock influenced bands, usually led by female vocalists, such as Blood Ceremony and Avatarium on their first two albums. Falling into the latter category is Australian band Devil Electric, who released a 4 track EP in 2016 called The Gods Below and are now back in 2017 with their self-titled full length debut. Out of all albums I've heard in this style, Devil Electric is definitely one of the best, and is arguably the most doom infused of all.

Unlike other bands that fall into similar territory, Devil Electric clearly allow their doom metal elements to dominate their music most of the time, with some very heavy guitar work, dark atmospheres, and some very groovy rhythms, with some often complex and quite interesting drum patterns. Most tracks on their debut fall into the heavier side of the genre, with the guitars especially being dominant, and there's some very interesting riffs here, often with a sinister tone and the guitars are often used to add to the overall tone of the songs, as well as at times being used for some great melodic solos. While the more doom infused tracks tend to be fairly slow paced, there are some tempo changes at times, as well as some slightly more upbeat hard rock influenced tracks, which have some added energy to them, so there's never a point where the albums drags or I start to lose attention. Of course, the rather short 36 minutes running time also helps with this, though curiously, this release is only about 15 minutes longer than the EP the band released previously, which feels a bit odd, especially when considering one of the tracks from that release appears on this album, keeping the new material at just over 30 minutes. For the most part, heavy psych elements are kept to a minimum, though I do occasionally notice some slight psychedelic tones to the guitar, and one particular track definitely feels like a 70's psych rock inspired track.

While there's some excellent instrumental work throughout the album, the band's biggest star is definitely lead vocalist Pierina O'Brien, who feels like an absolutely perfect fit for this style of music, and she delivers a show stealing performance on every song. She has a fairly deep and very powerful, aggressive voice that works perfectly for the heavier sections, and she also has a certain sinister quality to her voice a lot of the time, which works perfectly with the dark atmosphere of the album. She also has a voice that exudes confidence and energy on every track, and while it doesn't happen very often, most noticeably on “The Dove & the Serpent”, she also has a very beautiful softer voice that helps a lot during the more melodic sections. There's also some occasional male backing vocals, most noticeably on “Lady Velvet”, and these are nicely done and work well in harmony with the lead vocals. All around, this is an amazing album vocally.

The area I tend to be most nervous about when listening to a doom metal album is the songwriting, but Devil Electric has done a nice job here, with every track being enjoyable, some standing out a bit more than others for sure, but there's definitely no filler. Opening track “Monologue (Where You Once Walked” has a nice atmospheric guitar intro, before picking up the pace a bit and turning into a pretty fun track with some heavy riffs and it has a nice tempo to it, as well as some very good drum patterns that have a nice groove to them, and excellent guitar work all around. It's a great introduction to the band, and of course Pierina shines throughout with her excellent vocals, especially sounding great during the slow and powerful chorus. Next is the brief but very memorable “Shadowman”, a heavier track where the guitars give off a very sinister tone, which is enhanced by the vocals, and it's definitely one of the more doom infused tracks on the album.

After that comes the most heavy psych influenced track in “Lady Velvet”, a very melodic, mid paced track where the guitars have a 70's psych rock feel to them, but with just a slight metal edge added, and of course Pierina's rocking vocal manage to fit the style perfectly, and the drum patterns are very interesting and add a nice groove to the track. The vocals get more intense in the second half of the track and this section is incredible and easily the highlight of the album, while the guitar solo near the end is also great, and the track is probably my favorite on the album overall. Following one of the lighter tracks, it of course makes sense that “Acidic Fire” is a slower, more doom infused track, with some heavy riffs, dark tones and more excellent vocals. The song is great all around, but in the second half when the tempo picks up and the vocals get more intense, it reaches a whole new level, with the following guitar solo only making it even better. Definitely another one of my favorites on the album. After that we get the first of two instrumental tracks in “Monolith”, which is the heavier of the two, featuring some great guitar work. It's brief, but quite enjoyable while it lasts.

Next is “The Dove & the Serpent”, another very doom infused track, which starts out heavy and intense, before slowing down for a while, and it's during this softer section where we get some of the best vocal work from Pierina, as she sings a bit more softly than normal, but still adds in a bit of power and still maintains her dark tone throughout. The chorus is very nice, and showcases her voice wonderfully. At the same time, once the tempo picks up and the riffs kick in during the second half, her powerful vocals shows up again and are amazing as always, so overall it's simply an incredible performance from her, and is probably one of the best songs I've heard all year, when it comes to the vocals. Next is the brief but very enjoyable track “Sacred Machine”, a more hard rock infused track with a slight psych rock feel. It has some heavy riffs, but doesn't feel dark as most of the other songs here, and it moves at a nice pace, while of course having great vocals as always. After that is the softer of the two instrumentals, “Lilith”, which feels like an atmospheric interlude, and then we get the excellent closing track “Hypnotica”. This is the longest song on the album and is another slow and heavy doom meta track, with some nice atmosphere, great guitar work and drumming, as well as of course some excellent vocals as always. The instrumental section that closes out the album is especially great, and it's another one of the more memorable tracks on the album, for sure.

Overall, Devil Electric is an excellent debut, which offers up a nice blend of doom metal, hard rock and a bit of heavy pysch, with some excellent guitar work, great drumming, an excellent dark atmosphere, and one of the best vocal performances I've heard all year. It's definitely an impressive release and one of my favorite albums in the genre to date, so it certainly raises expectations for anything the band releases in the future, and I highly recommend it to any fan of this particular style of doom metal, as well as anyone looking to hear an album with some amazing, powerful female vocals.

BELL WITCH Mirror Reaper

Album · 2017 · Funeral Doom Metal
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MorniumGoatahl
Back in October this year metal fans from all around boarded the hype train for the third full-length album by funeral doom metal act Bell Witch. Entitled Mirror Reaper, I'd personally been aware of the band but never checked them out. Unless you're the type that lives under a rock though it would have been hard to miss that most who were talking about this album seem to think it is a pretty big deal.

My question to them is a simple one. Why?

First a bit of history. Bell Witch is a duo that doesn't use guitars and is instead driven by bass and drums. That's not unheard of but is still atypical in today's metal and heavy rock climate. So that's a point in their favour to make them more interesting than the average funeral doom metal band. They also suffered a tragedy since their last album Four Phantoms was released in 2015 – one of their original founders, who had already left the band at that point, Adrian Guerra, suddenly passed away. I'm not one to speak ill of the dead, but it's no secret in the music industry that death does wonders for one's career and for better or worse Guerra's passing may have played a role in the amount of attention this album has gotten to date, which appears to be considerable more than the aforementioned Four Phantoms.

But enough about that. The music. And back to my question: why?

Why when Mirror Reaper is, in a word, boring. Composed of just one song that lasts for, wait for it, a whole 83:43 minutes, Bell Witch made a record that couldn't even fit on a regular CD album without being forced to snip the track into two parts and two discs. To some, especially listeners of the digital, uncut version, this may not seem like it's a big deal, it's actually the most obvious example of the problem with the entire album/track. The band's unwillingness to cut it down rather than drag it out until it's long outstayed its welcome. Picture this: a few minutes less on a composition of this length isn't going to make any meaningful difference, so why butcher it for those who (I assume) enjoy it and want a physical copy, by making it that few minutes too long to fit on a single disc? Surely that's a more agreeable sacrifice that enforcing a pause during a song, something I personally despise doing regardless of length. Or perhaps that is Bell Witch's way of admitting that they know they dragged this out for far too long any way and may as well offer an ideal place for listeners to go away and have a tea break.

And 'dragged out' is really the only way to describe Mirror Reaper. The long song length itself it's the issue but it's what they do with it. Funeral doom metal is not a lively genre by default but this is ridiculous. The song is long and it doesn't sound as if they really do much during its running time. There's slow and then there's slow and not actually getting anywhere. This is the latter. Fuck, if they were much slower they'd be playing in reverse. For a lot of the time the music on the album is not even metal, but rather slowcore (an indie rock sub-genre), which is basically just droning clean tone bass guitars, organ and bland clean singing. The actual metal parts are not much better. The band shows off a nice heavy sound and the growling vocals are more convincingly performed, but it's still got the same problem of dragging the band's ideas out too much until they become uninteresting and then some, before they eventually deign to change the song up again. This is the pattern that is basically on repeat for the whole duration.

It's funeral doom metal and to complain that a band releases a dirge seems to be missing the point, but this one seems to be an example of taking things way too far. I'm not sure that cutting Mirror Reaper down even by half its current length would have saved it, but the point is I reckon that Bell Witch could easily have covered every actual musical idea in this song in a ten to fifteen minute track and here's a radical thought: written some more songs to make up the rest of the album! We may have had a release worthy of the hype then.

If its meant to be about atmosphere then I for one admit that I do not get it, because Mirror Reaper as an album and song bores me out of my tree long before it's even a quarter of the way through. I've made myself sit through it a few times to try and get it, but I'm failing to see what this is having such a widespread appeal in the metal world. It's not exciting or even technically interesting. It's certainly not innovative. If guitarless bass driven bands interest you then there are much better examples out there than this, both within the doom metal genre and without. It's just an album that takes a few ideas and runs each of them into the ground and is memorable only in the way that an experience that scars you for life is memorable.

And yet somehow Mirror Reaper has quickly become one of if not the most highly talked about and regarded doom metal albums of 2017. If this is what counts as good in doom metal these days then I have to declare the genre dead. And so one final time, though no one is likely to say anything that is going to change my opinion at this point, my question:

WHY?

BELL WITCH Mirror Reaper

Album · 2017 · Funeral Doom Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
A composition of a scale that was really only commercially possible in the digital age - physical releases are forced to split it up in various different ways - Bell Witch's Mirror Reaper is to funeral doom metal what Sleep's Dopesmoker is to stoner doom - a massive, sprawling exploration of the genre's basic principles cranked up to 11 and taken to their uttermost limit.

In this case, Bell Witch here offer a vision of funeral doom which takes it about as far as its death-doom-influenced roots as it can get; rather than fat, sick riffs, we are treated to sparse, gothic guitar tones and maudlin, melancholy lyrics. I hadn't heard that it was a tribute to Adrian Guerra, their deceased fellow bandmate, but it is certainly both suitable as a musical monument to a friend and as a distinct piece of art in its own right. Bell Witch take us here on a subdued, slow journey through their personal vale of tears, their grief overshadowing all, and what they have produced may not be the most heavy or extreme metal piece ever - it's almost a guitar-based approach to ambient music at points - but it is a powerful release which, whilst I'd want to be in the correct emotional mood to fully appreciate it, I am extremely glad to own.

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