Traditional Doom Metal

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Traditional Doom Metal is one of the sub-genres of the Doom Metal genre. It can be seen as one of the earliest recognised forms of metal music, found as early as Heavy Metal itself through the work of Black Sabbath, who can be seen as the biggest influence on the development of the first actual doom metal acts in the late seventies and early eighties. Up until about 1985 the key founding doom metal acts were Pentagram (A.K.A. Death Row), Witchfinder General, Pagan Altar, Trouble and Saint Vitus. Two of these bands, Witchfinder General and Pagan Altar, were also heavily associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the only acts of the movement to be playing doom.

Due to it appearing first, traditional doom metal is often seen to be an interchangeable term with doom metal, and in its early days that would have been fair. Since then the doom metal genre has diversified considerably, including the development of other sub-genres including Death-Doom Metal, Funeral Doom Metal and Stoner Doom Metal, so the term doom metal on its own has come to be seen as a general term and traditional doom metal to be a sub-genre meaning something more specific, that being doom metal which still has strong ties to its heavy metal roots. This can come out in the music in the form of faster playing than that employed by other types of doom metal act, though it isn't considered essential for something to be traditional doom metal. What is considered essential in the genre is the use of clean, melodic vocals. Any dominate harsh or growled vocals typically preclude an artist or release from being considered traditional doom.

Traditional doom metal is sometimes also known as Epic Doom Metal, though some use the two terms to mean different things and the latter isn't as widely recognised as the former and the two share many similarities, so it is better to consider epic doom to be a variant on traditional doom, that variation coming in the form of a classical influence to the doom sound, which may come in the form of operatic singing. Acts such as Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus are among those commonly credited with playing epic doom, though are usually branded under the traditional doom metal banner. Both though are slightly later key acts of the sub-genre, with Candlemass releasing their debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986 and Solitude Aeturnus being one of the key acts of the nineties. Candlemass especially has gone onto be arguably the best known act of traditional doom metal, with Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and the following album Nightfall in particular often credited as two of the genre's best albums along with Pentagram's self-titled debut, Trouble's Psalm 9 and Pagan Altar's self-titled debut (A.K.A. Volume 1 or Judgement of the Dead).

While antiquated, like with traditional heavy metal itself traditional doom metal is still a commonly played form of music with old guard artists like Pentagram still going and many new acts like Argus, Pallbearer, Spirit Adrift and perhaps most notably The Doomsday Kingdom, a new project of Candlemass founder Leif Edling, flying its flag. It's influence has also found it's way into a modern heavy psych scene through acts such as Blood Ceremony, Uncle Acid and Ides of Gemini.

- Genre definition written by MorniumGoatahl.

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traditional doom metal Music Reviews

THE OBSESSED The Obsessed

EP · 1983 · Traditional Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Although Black Sabbath usually gets credit as the first heavy metal band to release an album in 1970, likewise Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin released what many call early metal the same year. While all three bands were extremely popular throughout their 70s run, it seems the speed kings Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin were more influential at first in spawning legions of imitators that would evolve their heavy metal styles into faster and more extreme expressions.

Only a handful of bands favored the Black Sabbath sound over the more traditional 80s heavy metal sound. Pentagram was one of the earliest doom metal bands following in Sabbath’s footsteps forming as far back as 1971 but still not releasing its first album until 1985. Clearly the speed freaks needed some time to take a chill pill and rediscover the occult lyric-rich slow plodding delicacies of the world of doom metal.

Although it would take another decade for doom metal to really take off, the 80s found a few intrepid Sabbath revivalists strutting their stuff. Witchfinder General, Trouble and Pentragram emerged as well as Candlemass’ epic doom metal classic “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” in 1986 but even that would have to wait a few years before it would be accepted during an era where thrash metal and neoclassical soloing was still reigning supreme.

One of the early traditional doom metal bands to emerge from Potomac, Maryland was THE OBSESSED. Originally formed as early as 1976 only under the name Warhorse, the band played live for a number of years before changing its name in 1980 to a more doom metal friendly moniker and then continued to play the live circuit for another few years before finally releasing its first self-titled EP (some sources list this as being titled “Sodden Jackal 7”).

At this point the lineup was lead vocalist guitarist Scott Weinrich, bassist Mark Laue and drummer Ed Gulli but THE OBSESSED experienced many lineup changes before its debut full-length that premiered in 1990 not to mention later reformations. This EP only featured three tracks and went unheard during its initial release but found the band establishing themselves as one of the doom metal revivalists that would rekindle the lost potential of Sabbath inspired bands that had been usurped by the speed fueled forms of metal that dominated the 80s.

A lo-fi affair THE OBSESSED delivered three tracks that were somewhere in between the Sabbath inspired doom metal they would become more famous for and the speedier early metal expressions from bands of the era. While the opening “Iron & Stone” reminds a bit of Manilla Road, the shorter “Indestroy” definitely features a more Ozzy Osbourne nod in the vocal performance and although the speedy guitar riffing is closer to Venom than Candlemass, there’s still a doomy procession to it. “Sodden Jackal” on the other hand slows things down a bit and offers a veritable slice of early 80s doom metal that represents the band’s later output.

An interesting little early 80s early doom metal release even if its impossible to find now. Luckily the band’s first two EPs along with other odds and sods have been compiled into the “Incarnate” compilation. Despite remaining underground throughout the rest of the 80s the band broke up once before reforming and delivering three albums in the 90s including the lauded “The Church Witin” album from 1994. One of the lesser known bands in the early doom metal revivalist world but certainly one to check out.

CRYPT SERMON The Ruins Of Fading Light

Album · 2019 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Warthur
Offering up a tasty feast of Candlemass-esque doom metal with a sense of the majestic, The Ruins of Fading Light builds wonderfully on the foundations that Crypt Sermon capably laid with their debut. The mystical Christian themes of the first album continue to be heard here, and tasteful doses of synthesiser are woven into the fabric of the band's sound to further enrich it, but the centre of gravity is still very much Nightfall-era Candlemass, so if that's something which floats your boat, they've got you covered. It might not be all that original when it comes to the fundamental parameters of its sound, but the compositional execution here is marvellous.

CANDLEMASS Candlemass

Album · 2005 · Traditional Doom Metal
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UMUR
"Candlemass" is the eponymously titled 8th full-length studio album by Swedish doom metal act Candlemass. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in May 2005. It´s the successor to "From the 13th Sun" from 1999 and features massive lineup changes since the predecessor and a major change in sound. Candlemass had been through a decade of lineup changes, a break-up in 1994, the Leif Edling side-project Abstract Algebra, and experimentation with their sound, which resulted in the albums "Chapter VI (1992)", "Dactylis Glomerata (1998)", and "From the 13th Sun (1999)". "Candlemass" however sees a return of the classic lineup from the late 80s, which also means a return of lead vocalist Messiah Marcolin.

The classic lineup reunited in 2002 and played some live shows, which resulted in the release of the live album "Doomed for Live – Reunion 2002" from 2003. Candlemass subsequently started working on material for a new studio album, but soon disbanded again. They however reunited in November 2004 for a second time in the classic 80s lineup and completed writing and recording the material featured on this album.

Stylistically the material on "Candlemass" is a continuation of the epic doom metal sound of the previous Marcolin-fronted Candlemass albums, but the band have opted for a darker, less epic, and more riff heavy sound this time around. "Black Dwarf" opens the album in an energetic and quite aggressive fashion (for Candlemass), and it´s a high quality opening track. Other standout tracks are "Seven Silver Keys", "Witches" and "Copernicus". There are a couple of more standard quality tracks on the album, but the quality of the material is predominantly high and fully on par with the quality of the material on the three other Marcolin-fronted Candlemass albums.

The musicianship is high on all posts. The rhythm section is heavy and solid, the riffs are massive, and the lead guitar work from Lars Johansson is exquisite. Marcolin is THE voice of Candlemass, and his vocals on this album are more varied but just as powerful and unique as always. He has a distinct sounding voice and a commanding semi-operatic delivery, and the vocal melodies are intriguing and memorable. As "Candlemass" also features a high quality sound production (maybe the best production on any Candlemass album), it is upon conclusion a high quality release through and through. This is in other words a mandatory listen for fans of the band´s classic sound, and the fans who fled the ranks during the musical experimentation of the 90s, are advised to return to the fold. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

CANDLEMASS Dactylis Glomerata

Album · 1998 · Traditional Doom Metal
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UMUR
"Dactylis Glomerata" is the 6th full-length studio album by Swedish doom metal act Candlemass. The album was released through Music for Nations in April 1998. It´s the successor to "Chapter VI" from 1992 and can be labelled a comeback album as Candlemass disbanded in 1994. Much of the material featured on "Dactylis Glomerata" were originally written for bassist Leif Edling's side-project Abstrakt Algebra and were supposed to be included on that project´s second album. However Music for Nations refused to release the material under the Abstrakt Algebra monicker and thus Edling had to revive Candlemass. Only Edling remains from the lineup who recorded "Chapter VI", but some of the musicians who were involved in Abstrakt Algebra are also featured on "Dactylis Glomerata". It´s worth mentioning that Mike Amott (Carnage, Carcass, Arch Enemy) plays guitar on the album.

"Dactylis Glomerata" opens in the heavy end of the spectrum with the Black Sabbath influenced doom metal/stoner doom metal track "Wiz", but the album is not a one-dimensional affair and there are a lot of other types of heavy riffs and rhythms, and a strong psychadelic influence here too. I wasn´t surprised that tracks like "Abstrakt Sun" and "Lidocain God" were originally written for the Abstrakt Algebra project, but that a track like the slow building atmospheric/psychadelic "Dustflow" was also written for that project is a bit more surprising to me. It doesn´t really sound like a typical Candlemass track either though, and it´s just an example of the eclectic nature of the material on "Dactylis Glomerata". It´s not only eclectic, but also very, very different from what the band had produced before.

"Dactylis Glomerata" features an organic and powerful sound production, which suits the material perfectly and while it´s not the strongest nor the most memorable release in the Candlemass catalogue it´s still a decent quality release and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating isn´t all wrong.

CANDLEMASS Chapter VI

Album · 1992 · Traditional Doom Metal
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UMUR
"Chapter VI" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish doom metal act Candlemass (despite what the album title might suggest). The album was released through Music for Nations in May 1992. It´s the successor to "Tales of Creation" from 1989 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as lead vocalist Messiah Marcolin has been replaced by Thomas Vikström. Marcolin had a serious falling out with some of the other members of the band while touring in support of "Tales of Creation (1989)", and left the band mid-tour. "Chapter VI" would be the last album release before Candlemass initial split-up in 1994.

Replacing a frontman like Marcolin must have been a daunting task for Vikström, as the former had such a distinct sounding voice and stage presence. And let´s establish right away that Vikström is not able to replace Marcolin and add anything resembling his predecessors uniqueness. Less will do though and Vikström is not a poorly skilled vocalist by any means. His voice and singing style are just a little more regular heavy metal/power metal styled and as Candlemass have also added keyboards and a little more pace and traditional heavy metal/power metal elements to their music, "Chapter VI" is not the most doomy album in the band´s discography. Those tendencies were already introduced on "Tales of Creation (1989)", but they are even further explored here.

The material on the 8 track, 46:26 minutes long album are well written and the listener is treated to loads of powerful heavy riffs, blistering melodic guitar solos, and heavy rhythms. So "Chapter VI" is in many ways a strong release by Candlemass, if you listen to it with an open mind and don´t expect it to sound like -era Candlemass. The sound production is a bit on the thin side (the bass drums sound pretty horrible), but it´s overall a decent sounding release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong.

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