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 Die Healing Album Cover Die Healing
SAINT VITUS
4.77 | 9 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Nightfall Album Cover Nightfall
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4.42 | 43 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Review Your Choices Album Cover Review Your Choices
PENTAGRAM
4.59 | 7 ratings
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TROUBLE Run to the Light Album Cover Run to the Light
TROUBLE
4.48 | 9 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Last Rites Album Cover Last Rites
PENTAGRAM
4.35 | 14 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Candlemass Album Cover Candlemass
CANDLEMASS
4.25 | 36 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Album Cover Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
CANDLEMASS
4.22 | 54 ratings
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THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM The Doomsday Kingdom Album Cover The Doomsday Kingdom
THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM
4.44 | 7 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Pentagram (Relentless) Album Cover Pentagram (Relentless)
PENTAGRAM
4.25 | 13 ratings
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SOLITUDE AETURNUS Downfall Album Cover Downfall
SOLITUDE AETURNUS
4.31 | 9 ratings
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SOLITUDE AETURNUS Through the Darkest Hour Album Cover Through the Darkest Hour
SOLITUDE AETURNUS
4.21 | 8 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Tales of Creation Album Cover Tales of Creation
CANDLEMASS
4.05 | 35 ratings
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Divided By Darkness
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SPIRIT ADRIFT
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Eye Of The Storm
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BEASTMAKER
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Departed Souls
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MAGIC CIRCLE
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traditional doom metal Music Reviews

SOLITUDE AETURNUS Justice for All

EP · 2000 · Traditional Doom Metal
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UMUR
"Justice for All" is an EP release by US, Arlington, Texas based doom metal act Solitude Aeturnus. The EP was released through Doomed Planet Records in 2000. "Justice for All" doesn´t feature contemporary original material though, as it´s sort of a compilation, featuring 6 tracks from the band´s two pre-album demos "And Justice For All... (1988)" (originally released under the Solitude monicker) and "Demo 1989)". 5 tracks from the former and 1 track from the latter. So "Justice for All" is basically a reissue of the "And Justice For All... (1988)" demo with a bonus track. Some of the material featured on the two original cassette tape demos would appear in re-recorded versions on subsequent studio albums.

Stylistically the music on the EP is epic doom metal and Trouble and especially Candlemass are valid references. The tracks from the "And Justice For All... (1988)" demo features Kristoff Gabehart on vocals while "Opaque Divinity (3/89)" from "Demo 1989)" features Robert Lowe. The latter is a strong vocalist and the Solitude Aeturnus singer who most people probably know as he performs on the "classic" studio albums by the band. Kristoff Gabehart is not without skills though and while his low register singing/talking type vocals aren´t the most appealing, his more powerful and majestic vocals are of a good quality.

The material are well written heavy doom metal tunes packed in an epic atmosphere. There are occasional nods toward traditional heavy metal and thrash metal in the music too. Considering that the tracks are demo material from 1988-89 the sound quality is relatively well sounding. The guitars are slightly thin sounding and there´s a bit too much reverb on the drums, but other than that the EP is well produced.

So upon conclusion "Justice for All" is well worth a listen if you´re a fan of Solitude Aeturnus. The more casual listener is recommended starting with the "regular" studio albums. With that said the quality of the material featured on this EP is still so high, that a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

SAINT VITUS Lillie: F-65

Album · 2012 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Nightfly
Few would argue the importance of Saint Vitus in the doom/traditional doom sphere and they certainly went out on a high with 1995’s Die Healing. Fast forward to 2012 and Lillie: F-65 was their first studio album for 17 years. Bassist Mark Adams and guitarist Dave Chandler remain from the line-up from Die Healing and in came new drummer Henry Vasquez to replace the sadly now deceased Armando Acosta. It also saw the return of Vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich (The Obscessed, Wino) replacing Scott Reagers once again.

The sound on Lillie not surprisingly is dominated by Chandler’s fuzzed guitar sound and while he’s never been the most busy player his playing seems even more minimal here as well as upping the fuzz quotient, from Die Healing at least. This to a certain extent seems to rob the riffs of some of their power unfortunately. Weinrich’s vocals whilst doing the job lack the range and expressiveness of Reagers. He was more convincing in The Obsessed to my ears. At only 34 minutes it’s pretty short and whilst there’s a few good songs time is wasted considering the short running time by album closer Withdrawal which is basically three minutes of feedback. Vertigo is better but is really another filler being a short guitar only instrumental. Of the five remaining songs nothing jumps out as great which is disappointing. Pick of the bunch is probably opener Let Them Fall and Blessed Nights. The faster and busier Blessed Nights has the edge but Let Them Fall whilst being very basic has a riff that gets under the skin. The Bleeding Ground for the most part is a bit too basic but scores points for Chandler’s searing guitar solo on the more up tempo ending.

Not the comeback album I would have hoped for from Saint Vitus then after the excellent Die Healing but I know it has its fans. However at the time of writing Saint Vitus have a new album due imminently with Reagers back on vocals. Whilst it’s too early to say, based on the two tracks currently available this is sounding far more like the return I’d have hoped for. Time will soon tell.

BEASTMAKER You Must Sin

EP · 2015 · Traditional Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
BEASTMAKER is a trio from Fresno, CA that makes traditional doom metal in the vein of classic bands like Pentagram, Saint Vitus and Trouble as well as old school Black Sabbath and takes it all back to the grarage rock grit with a stoner vibe along with the luxury of 21st century production techniques. The band consists of Trevor William (guitars / vocals), Andy “Juan Bonham” Saldate (drums) and John Tucker (bass) and despite not being the most prolific band of full-length albums since their circa 2015 formation, the band has however been cranking out EPs like there’s no tomorrow with 10 coming out in 2018 alone,

YOU MUST SIN is the first EP, first release and overall a declaration of intent actually that announced the band was joining the ranks of the greater doom metal world and aligning their energies with the pioneers who have steered the genre into the modern era. Armed with an amateurish looseness as not to take themselves too seriously, this debut of five tracks finds the prevailing methodology of cranking out heavy distorted bluesy riffs that chug along at mid-tempo with the occasional more hefty tempo changes along with psychedelic solos that dissipate into the sonicsphere like a waft of bong smoke in a college dorm.

With an effect of wind sounds and cathedral bells leading the way, BEASTMAKER finds itself surfing familiar territory with the chugging riffs resembling the aforementioned influences almost to a T which along with Church’s dead ringer Ozzy-isms finds the whole affair a tad too traditional for my liking. With lyrics of Pagan mysticism poised in poetic perfection, the storylines fueled by the hazy fuzz of the guitar and bass find the band as masters of mimic and in the end too little originality to really take seriously. BEASTMAKER is amongst a new breed of stoner induced traditional doom metal bands that seems to think that just going through the motions is enough and judging by the popularity of one of metal’s least technically adept sub-genres it very well could pay off in the commercial aspects.

Overtly derivative and staunchly unwilling to experiment YOU MUST SIN sadly marks this beast with the sense of complacency that hasn’t deviated significantly through its massive run of recent EPs. Ultimately BEASTMAKER is a band too steeped in its influences and past glories albeit dressed in the modern era’s clothing with an excellent production and mixing job. While i guess the point is for a fuzzed out trad doom metal band to stick to the playbook, ultimately i just find such ceaseless attempts to replicate the past to feel hollow and unsatisfying. While doom metal is hardly the only guilty party in this attempt to cash in on the past, it sure seems to have a larger roster of characters than most attempting to do so with BEASTMAKER clearly existing in that very camp.

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
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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.

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