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)

doom metal top albums

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SAINT VITUS Die Healing Album Cover Die Healing
SAINT VITUS
4.70 | 7 ratings
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AHAB The Call of the Wretched Sea Album Cover The Call of the Wretched Sea
AHAB
4.63 | 9 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Album Cover Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
CANDLEMASS
4.40 | 48 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Last Rites Album Cover Last Rites
PENTAGRAM
4.49 | 13 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Be Forewarned Album Cover Be Forewarned
PENTAGRAM
4.46 | 14 ratings
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CELTIC FROST Monotheist Album Cover Monotheist
CELTIC FROST
4.38 | 37 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Nightfall Album Cover Nightfall
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4.35 | 39 ratings
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ELECTRIC WIZARD Come My Fanatics... Album Cover Come My Fanatics...
ELECTRIC WIZARD
4.40 | 14 ratings
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ARGUS Boldly Stride The Doomed Album Cover Boldly Stride The Doomed
ARGUS
4.41 | 12 ratings
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TROUBLE Run to the Light Album Cover Run to the Light
TROUBLE
4.48 | 7 ratings
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ESOTERIC The Maniacal Vale Album Cover The Maniacal Vale
ESOTERIC
4.37 | 14 ratings
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ESOTERIC The Pernicious Enigma Album Cover The Pernicious Enigma
ESOTERIC
4.40 | 10 ratings
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doom metal Music Reviews

MORDOR Odes

Demo · 1991 · Funeral Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
With a name like MORDOR which depicts the fiery aftermath of volcanic eruptions and steaming pits of lava rendering nothing conducive to lifeforms, it’s no wonder that well over a dozen metal bands from around the world have claimed this band name as their own. However only one of these bands can lay claims to being the first to create a hybrid of musical forms that would later be considered by many to be the first example of what would later be tagged funeral doom metal. This MORDOR arose in Lausanne, Switzerland out of the ashes of the black metal band Ärog which existed from 1987-90 never having released a single piece of their work. After a falling out with the drummer, the remaining duo of Dam Gomhory (vocals, keyboards, drum programming) and Scorh Anyroth (vocals, guitars, effects) set out to create some of the most despondent and depressive music ever recorded.

MORDOR released only two demos, ODES in 1991 and “Csejthe” in 1992 and then both together as a compilation shortly thereafter with one two-track EP emerging two years later. While these demos were released originally on cassette, like many underground artists of the era they would eventually find their way onto CD releases with bonus tracks. While emerging more out of the black metal lineage of the underground scene rather than doom metal itself, MORDOR nonetheless found the perfect marriage of the doom laden depressive atmosphere which took the snail-paced tempos to new extremes. Those attributes coupled with the droning chord distortions that reverberate to infinity and despairing tortured vocalized agony ensured only the most hopeless and nightmarish of sonicscapes to be experienced at the time.

ODES was only a demo but still clocks in just a couple minutes or so shy of the hour mark with only three tracks. The first and last clock in at over the 20 minute mark with the middle just shy of a mere ten. Although ODES qualifies as funeral doom metal with its dirge-like dissonance and nonchalant percussive march into oblivion, the elements of drone metal were hot on the heels of Earth were also on full display however the vocals are more of the black metal ilk sounding something like Mayhem on valium at times. The atmospheric dark ambience also brings Burzum’s later work to mind but these three tracks are far more devastating to the human psyche than anything Varg Vikernes could ever conjure up.

The three tracks have distinct flavors despite creeping out of the digestive pits of dismay, despair and utter mortification. “Dark Throne Of Blasphemous Evil” lives up to its title with punishing undulations of creepy dark synthesized terror in sync with lo-fi down tuned distortion doggedly eking out every possible second of sustainability. Moans of anguish beset the psyche while dirging drumbeats intersperse the dread while sonic frequencies add syrupy slow musical scales that seduce the spirits to commit vile and repugnant acts of horror. “The Great Kat Is God” shockingly begins as a Mozart piece and then finds the melody snuffed out by an oscillating synth and slightly more upbeat percussion. The vocals are more sung on this one but just as tortured and demented. This one has a slight guitar riff that recurs. “Lamentations For Corinne” provide a funeral organ riff as the marching drumbeat slowly ascends from the underworld. A guitar lick slowly ratchets up the tension, first with a melody and then into utter chaos while dungeon synth keyboard dirges emerge from nowhere and then fall into oblivion. At over 25 minutes in length the track builds up to the emotional breaking point.

Recommended for those who love to investigate the origins of the funeral doom metal sound and who crave the lo-fi errancy of the metal underground. The tortured soundscapes evoke the most inhospitable lower strata of the metal universe where melody is twisted and tortured into obsequious slaves to uphold the tyranny of torment and to crucify and extinguish all hope. The atmospheric black metal aspects are far superior to the likes of Burzum or wannabe followers. MORDOR successfully interpreted the fiery hellish landscapes of the J.R.R.. Tolkien universe into nail biting sonic reality. While funeral doom metal, atmospheric black metal and drone metal would quickly all splinter off into their own self-regulated subgenera within the greater metal universe, MORDOR display on this early demo the crossroads where they once all gathered together with the same goal of creating the utmost minimalistic melancholy that the world would most like never even hear. Scary stuff this one.

PARADISE LOST Medusa

Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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Although the UK's Paradise Lost may have started as a death-doom metal band and arguably were the originators of that particular fusion, after a few albums they ventured deeper into the territory of gothic metal and it's for this genre that they are no doubt most famous for now, with Draconian Times (1995) and Icon (1993) usually counted as their best releases and pillars of the entire gothic metal genre. They turned away from metal briefly on the album Host (1999) but were quick to return to it on Believe in Nothing (2001). Mostly sticking to the gothic metal genre ever since, they've gradually been reintroducing doom metal elements to their music and on The Plague Within (2015) took things a step further back towards their roots with the reintroduction of death growling vocals. This has paved the way for Medusa (2017), the band's fifteenth studio album and their first album to fully embraced death-doom metal since Shades of God (1992).

I say fully, but what I really mean is that Paradise Lost have made death-doom metal the main focus of their music on Medusa. They also retain some more regular doom metal parts with clean vocals and an influence of the gothic metal style they've played throughout most of their career, but it's now taken a back seat in terms of their playing style, particularly in the guitars. Lead single The Longest Winter would suggest that not much has changed in camp Paradise Lost, being one of the more gothic songs with primarily clean vocals from Nick Holmes, but this is an illusion that is quickly dispelled when you start the album from the very beginning when the band serve up the album's longest track Fearless Sky. This one is quite the opposite affair, with growling vocals taking centre stage, which is the same case with the following Gods of Ancient and is subsequently shown to be the theme of the album.

While Holmes still uses plenty of clean singing - in fact after a back to back listen my impression is that there may even be a little more on Medusa than The Plague Within had - there are certainly more growls and an overall focus on extreme metal. The key difference to its predecessor that sets the two albums apart is the instrumental shift back to a doom metal dominant sound and an increase in general heaviness, though the music isn't as menacing or outright malevolent as some death-doom metal can be. If I was to choose any word to describe it I'd have to say modern. It's definitely more accessible than a lot of groups of this style are. That's what ultimately helps to make it a memorable release though, with tracks such as Fearless Sky, From the Gallows, Blood and Chaos and Until the Grave staying with me long after the album's conclusion.

If you're mainly a fan of the band's early days, this album can only be good news and perhaps even something you'd never have imagined possible, even after the growl heavy The Plague Within which was still musically more of a gothic metal album. If you prefer their fully clean sung gothic metal work though then Medusa may spell disappointment for you. That's the inherent trouble with a band that has changed their sound more than once. Hopefully most fans can appreciate both of Paradise Lost's core styles of metal and will embrace Medusa as an excellent throwback album that still has enough of their gothic metal style to retain at least some interest from gothic metal fans, though I would say gothic fans have more for them on the special editions of the album that include two bonus tracks that lean more this way; Shrines and Symbolic Virtue, which add almost a further ten minutes to Medusa's total playing time and go a long way towards evening out the doom and gothic metal elements on offer.

For my money though the base eight track album alone is an exceptional release from Paradise Lost. 2017 is certainly shaping up to be a great year for the doom metal genre, with many great and inventive albums released already, but Paradise Lost striking back to reclaim the death-doom throne they vacated twenty-five years ago may just be the doom metal event of the year.

ESOTERIC Epistemological Despondency

Album · 1994 · Funeral Doom Metal
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SURREAL METAL 101

There were some bands that jumped on the bandwagon of a certain trend and ran away with it and then there are those that knew exactly what they wanted from very start. Birmingham, England’s ESOTERIC are amongst the latter as they quickly distinguished themselves from the ever expanding doom metal universe into the extreme melancholy of the early funeral doom metal world. Along with early pioneers Thergothan, Skepticism, Funeral and Mournful Congregation, ESOTERIC excelled in the total submersion into the ultimate depressive atmospheric snail-paced dirge metal that ceased to exist in the physical world and opted to sublimate into a more hallucinogenic state of mind where echoey power chords take on droning characteristic accompanied by ethereal and wickedly depressive ambience to create some of the most surreal metal ever to exist.

ESOTERIC meant business as their career began and has revolved around slow and doom-laden metal that takes its sweet time to unfold its freeze-dried fury around you only to captivate your soul and entrancify your spirit into a phantasmic surrender of the will. Even with the demo “Esoteric Emotions - The Death Of Ignorance” the Birmingham band was all about sustaining a depressive atmosphere for over an hour. The demo clocked in at an astounding 82 minutes and was the prognosticator of entire career as every ESOTERIC album since has been a double CD fortified with endless drifting action of depressive doom metal action that is the equivalent to a sonic Salvador Dalí copulating with the early potentials of Black Sabbath and the countless emulators that emerged in their wake.

EPISTEMOLOGICAL DESPONDENCY is the debut album of ESOTERIC which appeared after their demo tape made a huge impression on the personal at Aesthetic Death Records who realized quite quickly that they had a rather unique musical entity on their radar. After all the legalities ensued, ESOTERIC recorded their debut album and set out to create one of the weirdest and most demanding albums of the mid-90s. While based in the world of doom metal mostly due to their molasses flowing guitar riffs and distortion to forever techniques, ESOTERIC is somewhat of a hybrid between the early 90s doom metal of Skepticism, Evoken and Pantheist cross-pollinating with some sort of sluggish ambient electronic band such as Coil with valium-esque synthesizer laden keyboard riffs that take the term “downers” to a whole new level.

ESOTERIC has been quite exemplary in their ability to tweak their sound ever-so-slightly on album after album but they proved themselves worthy quite well even on this gem of a debut that not only immediately separates them from the pack of death doom and funeral doom progenerators but also displays an emotional depth of character that few were capable of experiencing during the day of production. EPISTEMOLOGICAL DESPONDENCY is like no other of the day. This album is literally capable of causing extreme depression and suicidal thoughts much like legal drugs that have been promoted since. Personally i have no need for such chemical mind inducing intruders when such sonic therapy such as this exists. Literally nothing else before or since can compare to ESOTERIC’s bizarre and surreal take on doom metal and this debut is the perfect introduction to the phantasmagoric sonic reality of this strange band. ESOTERIC is one of my all time favorite bands and this debut reminds me why that is so time and time again. Do start here!

WINTER Into Darkness

Album · 1990 · Death-Doom Metal
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Winter came to my attention while watching the Lock Horns episode on Death / Doom. They only released a single LP, which was not really appreciated as much as it should have been at the time, according to the CD re-release booklet. However, in later years, Winter's music seems to have attracted more attention.

Hailing from Long Island, New York, the band was part of the underground hardcore scene, though their style of music contrasted greatly with the speed and raw aggression of most contemporary acts in the area. Nevertheless, Winter often played at hardcore festivals (I think they were actually called "squats" or "sit-ins" because they were generally held in basement venues and were not particularly glorious by any measure) and music events to raise public awareness about social issues.

It's interesting to imagine some sweaty, gungey underground club scene with all these hardcore types facing the stage as Winter walks on and proceeds to play extremely slow, bitterly ominous, and very heavy doom. If they opened their set with "Oppression Freedom / Opression (reprise)", their audience would slowly be bludgeoned into mind-numbing submission, slaves and captives to utter disparity and gloom. The whole purpose of that track seems to be to hammer one over the consciousness with a giant iron, rubber-coated mallet.

After this though, the secret behind Winter's approach becomes apparent: somebody was listening to "Morbid Tales" and "To Mega Therion" an awful lot. The deep vocals, the choice of vocabulary, the enunciation of the words along with the use of slow, heavy power chords is so derivative of Celtic Frost that you might be believe CF was the only band these guys ever listened to. Even the guitar solo style and very occasional leap in speed sound like Celtic Frost's most ominous, forbidding, and gloom-inducing songs. This for me seems to underscore Celtic Frost's influence on the death / doom scene. As if to corroborate my conjecture about Winter's mentors, they even named their EP "Eternal Frost".

Winter have not exactly ripped off Celtic Frost. There are no covers which would have been too obvious, and of course they are their own individual selves. The choice to play even slower or add some sparse, atmospheric keyboards make them somewhat different from Celtic Frost. Still, I don't think anyone familiar with the famous Swiss band would fail to notice the similarities.

That aside, it is a well-recorded album. The sound is full and warm, if you can use the term warm in the same sentence as Winter's music. It's above lo-fi making it easy to appreciate the music, but not crisp and sharp, which would have taken something away.

I give this album three and a half stars because it delivers what the musicians intended but doesn't come across as particularly original (am I hearing some My Dying Bride in here as well now?). For really slow, gloomy, ominous music, it could be worth checking out.

DEVIL ELECTRIC Devil Electric

Album · 2017 · Doom Metal
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Following their debut EP The Gods Below (2016), Australian band Devil Electric have wasted no time in upgrading to the full-length album format. Devil Electric (2017) is their self-titled debut album. Of the EP's trackd The Dove & The Serpent has been carried over but the remainder of the nine track album is new material.

The music on Devil Electric flits between some very heavy hard rock and even heavier doom metal. The doom metal parts, which were the more dominant feature of The Gods Below EP, have a very old school quality to them and it's easy to think of the early pioneers of the metal genre like Black Sabbath when listening to the music. For me, the doom parts are the bigger draw to the band, but the hard rock side of the album is equally expertly executed and provides a great contrast of sounds and riff ideas and ultimately helps create a stronger album. Though Devil Electric are to my ears the heavier band and don't flirt with psych influences as much (I'd say there's the lightest of touches of it here) it's also easy to put this debut in the same ballpark as the early work of Blood Ceremony, at least regarding their mix of hard rock and doom metal elements. Very different bands beyond that. Devil Electric also display the occasional bluesy touch, especially with the lead guitar parts.

While the heavy music played by the trio of instrumentalists, guitarist Christos Athanasias, bassist Tom Hulse and drummer Mark van de Beek, is incredibly satisfying on its own, I have to say that it's singer Pierina O'Brien who absolutely steals this show. Demonstrating a voice that has a power capable of withstanding the heavy music behind her and also seeming to be in complete control of it, she's equally effective during lively hard rock or subdued doom metal parts that the album serves up. It's her commanding performance that makes the album an absorbing experience and makes it very easy to listen to the whole thing a second time as soon as you've finished it.

Of course it's not actually that long of a record at 36:13 minutes, but we're definitely dealing with a work that is a proponent of quality over quantity. There are a couple of shorter instrumentals that serve more as interludes, albeit substantial ones, Monolith and Lilith, but otherwise Devil Electric deliver excellent hard rock/doom metal tracks. Monologue (Where You Once Walked), Lady Velvet and The Dove & The Serpent are quick to stand out as highlights.

Perhaps the biggest issue facing the album is that Devil Electric have carried over The Dove & The Serpent from The Gods Below EP but not the other equally excellent tracks, which haven't to date seen a release on CD format, only digital and a limited run of 7” vinyls (as The Gods Below Vol. I and The Gods Below Vol. 2). Devil's Bells, the first song from the EP, definitely has its absence on this full-length debut felt. Of course bands aren't obligated to tack on their prior EP tracks to a full-length but if you're going to do it for one of them...

That minor quibble aside, it's impossible to come away from Devil Electric not feeling very enthusiastic about it as an album and them as a band. It may be the case that on future releases they settle with either the hard rock or doom metal side that this one displays but no matter what they do they've set the groundwork here for it to be something even more spectacular. The spirit of heavy rock and metal is very much alive here.

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