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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 top albums

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SAINT VITUS Die Healing Album Cover Die Healing
4.67 | 11 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Nightfall Album Cover Nightfall
4.32 | 48 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Review Your Choices Album Cover Review Your Choices
4.62 | 7 ratings
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TROUBLE Run to the Light Album Cover Run to the Light
4.46 | 10 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Candlemass Album Cover Candlemass
4.24 | 38 ratings
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PAGAN ALTAR Volume 1 Album Cover Volume 1
4.47 | 7 ratings
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PENTAGRAM Last Rites Album Cover Last Rites
4.29 | 15 ratings
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THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM The Doomsday Kingdom Album Cover The Doomsday Kingdom
4.44 | 7 ratings
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SOLITUDE AETURNUS Downfall Album Cover Downfall
4.30 | 11 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Album Cover Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
4.15 | 57 ratings
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ARGUS Boldly Stride The Doomed Album Cover Boldly Stride The Doomed
4.19 | 16 ratings
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SOLITUDE AETURNUS Through the Darkest Hour Album Cover Through the Darkest Hour
4.15 | 11 ratings
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CANDLEMASS Tales of Creation

Album · 1989 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Tales of Creation is the last of Candlemass’ original golden era of albums, and what a fine way to conclude Messiah’s (first) run with the band. The album is a concept album of sorts, focusing on creation, loneliness, introspection and self-love. It may not have a direct overarching story, but there are call-back moments throughout that connect the dots.

Musically, it sounds rather identical to the previous two albums. Every song is strong, aside from the short segues there are no weak moments. Messiah’s voice is in top form, and Leif’s slow, melodic yet sludgy riffs are on point. You can’t expect anything new here, but you can expect another top notch Candlemass album.

CANDLEMASS Ancient Dreams

Album · 1988 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Candlemass deliver the same kind of quality, riff-driven epic Trad Doom as always. Again with Messiah’s intense vocal prowess, the album retains the sound from Nightfall. Ancient Dreams tends to be seen as a drop in quality, but I instead see it as a trade off of sorts. There is no doubt that Ancient Dreams fails to deliver the same highs as Nightfall; however, it also does away with any sort of filler material, which dragged Nightfall down a bit. What remains is an extremely consistent album where every song is of equal quality – an odd exception being the title track, who’s riffs are just odd, and Messiah’s vocals don’t really play off them well.

All in all, another high quality Trad Doom album that should be given the same respect as the rest of Candlemass’ first four albums.


Album · 1987 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Candlemass enter one of their most celebrated lineups here with the addition of Messiah and record the great Nightfall. By 1987, Candlemass was pretty much indisputably the best Doom band around, especially solidifying the fact after dropping a follow up album just as amazing as their debut (both of which remain their finest works in most people’s opinion).

They continue the same style as their debut, adding an epic and even uplifting sound to the slow and simple Doom genre, rife with religious symbolism as well as occult fantasy. Messiah and leif grab all the attention here, as Leif wrote most if not all of the music, including many of Trad Doom’s most memorable riffs, and Messiah puts on a vocal performance that would sound at home in an opera show. The act works well for the epic Doom rockers, and many of the songs tell small tales that effectively play off this aesthetic.

Unfortunately, while the debut was strictly 6 great songs, this album has a bit of filler found in mostly pointless interludes between songs. At the Gallows’ End and Samarithan are two of the greatest songs the band ever wrote, but the filler puts this album just below the debut in my opinion.

CANDLEMASS Epicus Doomicus Metallicus

Album · 1986 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. The name carries immense weight, even before hearing what lies therein. Often given the title of the greatest Doom Metal album of all time, bandleader Leif Edling carries the band with immense riff-writing prowess, and Johan Längqvist wields a powerful, epic operatic bellow. Here, he sets the now solidified trope of epic vocals in Trad Doom. His voice was very unique at the time, being capable hitting highs and lows and everything in between, but always remaining melodic and full of vibrato. The riffs here are reminiscent of early Sabbath, but heavier, groovier, and better.

Epicus Doomicus Metallicus has no shortage of quality riffs and vocals, and in fact, there is absolutely no filler to be found. Something Candlemass hadn’t expanded on for Doom, however, was the mood and atmosphere. The songs here remain rather generic worshippings of demons, god, and death in general, and apart from some nice acoustic sections, there is no variation in style or sound. Candlemass are no doubt gods at what they do, which is play straightforward Trad Doom. Unfortunately, to call this the greatest Doom Metal album of all time when the genre has expanded into something so much more than straightforward slow metal is rather unfounded.


Album · 1985 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Not incredibly impressed by Trouble’s debut album, their sophomore effort The Skull completely blew me away. I will say that this is the first Doom Metal album that makes the transition from Trad Doom to the more modern, melancholic Doom that I personally favor.

Musically, the lead guitar focuses on simple albeit effective melodies that add an extra layer of mood to the basic riffs that litter Trad Doom. The song structures are much more progressive – not that the music is incredibly complex, but there is a lot of variation, changes in speed, and many, many riffs in each of the rather long tracks. The solos have a fantastic balance of going for purposeful melodies that work perfectly with the rhythm work, or outright breaking into distorted, droning chaotic buzz. The drumming is another thing I love; I’d say this is also the first case of what I’d call “intelligent Doom Metal drumming.” Instead of simply playing slow, plodding beats, the drummer adds some progressive beats, and adds a great amount of double bass drumming in as well. Occasionally, all the musicians break out into speedy sections and just have at it, which I love in Doom. One song even has synthesized strings – a staple to modern Doom!

The lyrics and mood are the biggest separators from Trad Doom. No, I’m not talking about the Christian lyrics, I mean the references to depression, suicide, loss and death. The rich symbolism and more poetic style of songwriting is something that would be heavily expanded upon by Death Doomers of the 90’s, but it started right here. The music is also much more set to reflect the mood here, and there’s a clear difference to previously Satanic or drug and party influenced Doom of before.

Another aspect I haven’t seen in Trad Doom displayed here is passion. There is true passion in the lyrics and vocal delivery, even if those vocals are pretty rough. It’s clear the vocalist is not only 100% struggling with loss of hope and other issues, but also completely has faith in his God to help him, and to help others, and he’s truly thankful for it. This is music written for purpose; not just to sound good, but to deliver an important message. I myself am not a religious person of any kind, but I can still appreciate the passion and meaning to the music here, and the groundbreaking achievement that it was for my favorite music genre, Doom Metal.

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