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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SAINT VITUS Saint Vitus Album Cover Saint Vitus
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CANDLEMASS King of the Grey Islands Album Cover King of the Grey Islands
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3.99 | 26 ratings
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traditional doom metal Music Reviews

DEVIL ELECTRIC Devil Electric

Album · 2017 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Warthur
Devil Electric's debut album finds the Australian unit offering up yet another entry in the pantheon of doomy occult rock outfits. You know the sort - witchy lady on vocals, riffs borrowed from Sabbath and Led Zep, bigger dose of Satanism than the original 1970s bands they're riffing on ever actually indulged in themselves.

It's a short affair at only 36 minutes, but thankfully I think we've moved beyond that phase when people felt they'd been cheated unless an album filled the entire length of a CD (or at least broke the 1 hour mark); I'd always rather hear half an hour of an artist's best stuff than an hour padded out with filler. That said, I'm not wholly sold on Devil Electric. Maybe it's because they regularly lean closer to Zep than Sabbath in their riffage, and I never quite embraced Zeppelin to the same extent that others have, or maybe it's just because I've heard a lot of stuff like this and it takes a bit more than the basic occult doom formula to impress me these days, but I found my mind wandering well before the 36 minutes were up - and that's a bad sign.

DEVIL ELECTRIC Devil Electric

Album · 2017 · Traditional Doom Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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.

DEVIL ELECTRIC Devil Electric

Album · 2017 · Traditional Doom Metal
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adg211288
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.

THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM The Doomsday Kingdom

Album · 2017 · Traditional Doom Metal
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adg211288
Swedish musician Leif Edling may be most famous for being the founder and main writer for major doom metal act Candlemass, but it more recent years he's been furthering his doom metal brand with another project, Avatarium and has two studio albums to that name already with the release of the third, Hurricanes and Halos (2017) imminent at the time of writing this review. Further enhancing his doom metal CV now is The Doomsday Kingdom, whose self-titled debut album appeared a couple of months before the third Avatarium album. Edling founded the project initially as a second solo outing following the project under his own name that spawned the album Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy (2008). He released the Never Machine Demo EP (2016) as a solo project, with a few guests to help along the way, but afterwards The Doomsday Kingdom evolved into a full band.

Avatarium fans will of course be familiar with Marcus Jidell, who again joins Leif Edling as the group's guitarist, with Edling taking on his usual bassist role. For a drummer they've brought in Andreas Johansson of Narnia, Rob Rock and Royal Hunt fame. Together the three have crafted some top quality traditional doom metal music full of heavy, prolonged riffs but also a sense of melody and an energetic attitude. Putting the finishing touches to their sound is their vocalist Niklas Stålvind, better known as the frontman of the heavy metal act Wolf, whose fans will get to hear this great singer in a bit of a different context on The Doomsday Kingdom. He certainly sounds at home within the doom metal genre, delivering powerful, often quite raw clean vocals. No better example of how well everything the group has going for them works is the third song, A Spoonful of Darkness. Now this is really what I want to hear when I think of traditional doom metal! Great vocals, heavy riffs and a menacing atmosphere without any cheapening of their brand by borrowing any elements from extreme metal.

The album is hardly a one trick pony though. Some songs have an even more upbeat feel to them. It's doom, but not necessarily gloom. While more straight-forward doom metal in direction compared to the last Avatarium album The Girl with the Raven Mask (2015) a few elements creep in that seem quite Avatarium-like, such as some light progressive and even psychedelic flavours behind the riff driven doom metal. The Sceptre is another clear album highlight in this regard, featuring a 7:19 minute long running time and some extended instrumental work where the song really goes off on a tangent in true prog style, featuring a moog solo from guest Joakim Svalberg, before returning to the song's familiar structure that it had been at previously.

The first of a double dose of new Leif Edling material for 2017, The Doomsday Kingdom may actually be the album for his fans to get their doom metal kicks this year rather than Avatarium, if the two songs released in the run up to their next album are anything to judge by. Of course they might just be holding some more full-on doom metal material back for the full album release, but in any case it would be inadvisable to pass up a copy of The Doomsday Kingdom. Edling's long history with doom metal has made him a true master of his craft. If you like doom metal and especially any of his various projects within the genre, then this is a must have.

SORCERER In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross

Album · 2015 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Warthur
Sorcerer's cover art, with its sparse monochrome imagery, combined with the Satanic implications of its title might make you expect a kvlt black metal band, or perhaps a black metal artist's dungeon synth side project. Instead, Sorcerer offer up a tasty dish of traditional doom metal that flips the script a little by widening the nostalgia lens a little. As well as performing music harkening back both to Black Sabbath and to the doom metal pioneers of the 1980s like Saint Vitus or Candlemass, Sorcerer also incorporate into their music plenty of influences from classic 1980s heavy metal of the Dio school.

The end result is an album which bridges the worlds of traditional heavy metal and doom metal, presenting a blend which is at once novel and familiar.

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