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 (+ child sub-genres and shared with Stoner Metal and Drone Metal):
  • Nightfly (leader)
  • MorniumGoatahl

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ВОЙ Кругами вечности

EP · 1991 · Funeral Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
The Soviet Union was an impenetrable fortress of sort that covered a staggering portion of the entire landmass of planet Earth and remained a bastion of state controlled everything where Western influences were repelled like mosquitoes in a DEET factory. Despite the strict censors and gatekeepers suppressing the thoughts and actions of the populace, tenacious souls managed to smuggle in music and other forbidden paraphernalia that would thrive in the underground. In the world of heavy metal, despite bands like Iron Maiden being outside the reach of hungry metalheads wanting to join the world party, bands like Aria picked up the slack by creating homegrown versions.

When the USSR collapsed in 1991 under the pressures and onslaughts of western interference, suddenly an entire universe of music flooded into a deprived culture and literally changed the entire scene in a blink of an eye. Extreme metal was one of these forbidden fruits to rampage into the hearts and minds of the youth and suddenly new paradigms were sprouting all throughout the lands from the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia all the way to the western port city of Vladivostok, however the larger cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) were the quickest to adopt the new world ways.

One of the earliest bands to jump on the bandwagon was вой (Voj) which means “howl” in Russian. This band sprouted up around 1991 when Russia became a new nation and eschewed the 80s heavy metal scene and instead adopted a darker, gloomier sound most like influenced by Swiss band Samuel who played in Moscow shortly before the political collapse of the USSR. Having had these darker sounds gestate, this trio introduced a newly independent nation long deprived of the metal underground to a completely new unthinkable monstrous vision of what music could sound like. The band only ever released one demo called кругами вечности (Circles of Eternity) which contained five tracks and just ran past the 33 minute mark.

Interesting enough, вой could possible be the first example of funeral doom metal with its snail-paced viscous riffs that prognosticated the gloomy Chinese water torture stroll of sound that future bands like Esoteric would develop into a bona fide subgenre of the metal universe. In the timeline of 1991, three bands actually emerged independently to forge this new sound. One was the Moscow based вой, the other the Swiss band Mordor and the other was the Finnish band Thergothon. Due to the fact that all the releases from these bands were demos, it’s hard to tell which came first but it’s almost certain that in these days before the internet that one can conclude that each can to the same outcome independently in what is called convergent evolution.

While innovative for the time, вой crafted a rather primitive crude example of funeral doom metal that doesn’t hold up well by modern day standards. Granted this was a mere demo eventually released as an EP and an interesting example of a popular style of music in its birth pangs but the five tracks are fairly monotonous plodding glacial examples of doom metal slowed down to the speed of fingernails growing that implement long distorted guitar chords sustained to eternity along with bass, drums and growly demonic vocals in the Russian language. This surely must have been quite shocking at the time and in the place but sounds rather tame two centuries into the 21st century. Credit given where it’s due though. These guys were innovators and although it’s doubtful the bigwigs of funeral doom ever heard this EP at the time, it’s interesting how these things develop. While not essential, this is an interesting early slice of funeral doom metal that will interest music buffs who like historical contexts.

SUMMONER’S CIRCLE First Summoning

EP · 2015 · Death-Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
SUMMONER’S CIRCLE isn’t your ordinary metal band for sure. This band doesn’t just play music but lives it. Having formed in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2015, this spaced-out band is something akin to the jazz-world’s Sun Ra when it comes to its knack for crafting its own cosmic mythology and with an over-the-top sense of theatrical performances. Nurturing the sci-fi themes of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard amongst others, SUMMONER’S CIRCLE also claims to be refugees from a cosmic war on the planet Mercury and has relocated on Earth to perform its magic rituals which resemble heavy metal concerts!

The band consists of six members: Blind (vocals), Sol (keyboards), Magog (rhythm guitars), Gog (lead guitars), BG Scios (drums) and Fallen (bass). All six members have been together since the band’s inception and so far they have released two full-length albums, “Tome” and “Become None” but this EP titled FIRST SUMMONING debuted these interplanetary refugees and their eccentricities. This EP consists of only 4 tracks but perfectly displays the band’s unique mix of death doom metal with touches of other elements such as black metal and ambient atmospheres. The band has created its own comprehensive history behind its existence and the lengthy bio on its website displays the amount of effort these guys have put into their mythology, something like the progressive rock act Magma crafted several decades prior.

SUMMONER’S TALE delivers an epic sound like no other. The real journey begins on the double-album debut “Tome” so FIRST SUMMONING which doesn’t quite reach the half hour mark is somewhat of a warm up session or rather an indoctrination into the band’s idiosyncrasies which take death doom metal intro slightly progressive arenas with dramatic keyboards and dominated by Blind’s powerful vocal style. This EP begins with a two and a half minute symphonic narration which insinuates a much larger epic tale to come but seems truncated by the EPs length however in reality this EP is more like a teaser, a statement of sorts that SUMMONER’S TALE has arrived and the show will begin soon.

With death doom metal as the primary genre, this is slow plodding evil sounding metal with Blind sounding most similar to My Dying Bride’s Aaron Stainthorpe and in many ways this band resembles that band only trading in the violin for the keyboards. There are the same gothic overtones and sense of dramatic compositional flair however this sounds different enough that you wouldn’t exactly think this was a MDB release if you heard it. Blind’s vocals are much more rooted in death metal’s guttural growls however his rare clean vocals are a dead ringer for Stainthorpe. Keep in mind the lyrics are all designed to evoke a magic ritual through music and the band hams it up in concert which probably makes them a very interesting live act to follow but just judging from the recorded music, this is very competent death doom metal for sure.

This is a very cool and professional recorded slice of death doom metal that perhaps needs a bit more originality but very well composed and produced. As the band states as their Bandcamp site: Epic doom metal from the wastes of Mercury. “Let us be the soundtrack to your private Doomscape.” If that’s not masterful marketing, what is?!! Overall, SUMMONER’S CIRCLE delivers an excellent debut EP and has peaked my interest in further exploring this high drama death doom metal band from Tennessee. Nice to know Appalachia has spawned more musical diversity than the more famous acts like Dolly Parton and other country / bluegrass legends. Favorite track: the 9:12 closer “Leviathan - Lord Of The Labyrinth.”

AVATARIUM The Fire I Long For

Album · 2019 · Doom Metal
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adg211288
Founded by Leif Edling of Candlemass renown, Avatarium burst onto the doom metal scene in 2013 with their EP Moonhorse and self-titled debut album. Heavy as hell, lyrically poetic, and above all else just damn good, the debut album cemented the band's reputation and proved that they weren't just riding on the name dropping of member's previous work. Second album, 2015's The Girl With the Raven Mask, brought some changes to the band's sound. It wasn't as heavy, though still clearly rooted in doom metal, but more psychedelic influenced. That was exactly what made it so good though: Avatarium did not feel the need to immediately re-hash what worked so well the first time around.

Then Leif Edling left the band. And their sound changed to be much less doom metal based and more firmly rooted in (heavy) psychedelic rock and progressive rock. Yet this was actually quite the paradox, because Edling had still written the majority of third album from 2017, Hurricanes and Halos, even though he didn't play one note on it. So it was obvious that the change in direction away from doom metal hadn't been the result of line-up shifts. Now, Hurricanes and Halos is still pretty fine album, but for this reviewer's money it doesn't get as many revisits as the first two Avatarium records. Which is why I'm happy to say that with fourth full-length The Fire I Long For, Avatarium is back on track. Doom metal is in again.

This could be seen as a double edged sword of course. The first three Avatarium albums, while the general lack of doom metal may have proved a disappointment to many on the last one, had the great benefit that Avatarium had effectively reinvented themselves every time around, but not so much that they alienated fans completely. And while The Fire I Long For brings another change, it's much more of a change back opposed to changing into something new. The album quite comfortably sits alongside The Girl With the Raven Mask in terms of style. Which means that it's pretty psychedelic, with plenty of doom metal riffs, but none that are as crushingly heavy as those found on the debut. As is usual for an Avatarium record, there is also some softer material. Avatarium is one of those rare metal bands that is actually very good at doing softer material though (they are members of a very exclusive club where they keep company with prestigious metal acts like Blind Guardian and err, I can't actually think of another one, that's how exclusive the club is!), so that shouldn't put newcomers off, while returnees will know what to expect.

While we've established that for the first time that a new Avatarium record may not feel as fresh in context of their catalogue, The Fire I Long For does have two things going for it that make it a step up from Hurricanes and Halos. Firstly it's doom metal again as I've pointed out and while Avatarium proved a quite competent heavy psych act on Hurricanes and Halos, they're an exceptional doom metal act. This is the genre they started off in and it's the genre that they shine in. Doom metal, especially the psychedelic influenced kind as Avatarium play, seems to be tailor-made for a singer like Avatarium's Jennie-Ann Smith as well.

That isn't the second reason by the way. The actual second reason is that the song-writing is that much more memorable this time around. There sadly just aren't many details that I can recall about Hurricanes and Halos after some time away from it, except for the excellent opening track Into the Fire / Into the Storm. This isn't true of the first two albums, where hooks flood back without requiring a revisit, no doubt because there's only so long I can go before those albums pull me back. And as for The Fire I Long For, there are already several tracks that have infected me, not least the title track, Voices, and Rubicon. While it is still early days yet, I can't foresee a future where it doesn't go into rotation at least as much as the first two records.

A return to form all round and to be cliché, this was the album I longed for after the last one. Regarding which I have not meant to be disrespectful to in this review despite some comments that even when positive no doubt read as barbed. I quite like Hurricanes and Halos. It's one of those albums I enjoy when I do play it, but I rarely crave it. On the other hand I just love Avatarium, The Girl With the Raven Mask and now The Fire I Long For as well. It's a doom metal highlight for 2019.

ESOTERIC A Pyrrhic Existence

Album · 2019 · Funeral Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
ESOTERIC is hardly the most prolific artist lurking about in the ever expanding world of metal music with albums roughly appearing every 4 or 5 years since 1994’s “Epistemological Despondency” and currently consists of band members Gordon Bicknell (Guitar, Synths), Mark Bodossian (Bass, Synths), Greg Chandler (Guitar, Vocals), Joe Fletcher (Drums) and Jim Nolan (Guitar). The band plods along through the decades crafting new releases as glacially as its unique brand of funeral doom metal oozes about with apocalyptic dirges slinking around like a sluggish serpent writhing in a frozen stupor.

The Birmingham, England based band returns with only its 7th massive album in the 27 years of its existence but with the exception of “Metamorphogenesis” and “Subconscious Dissolution Into The Continuum,” every other ESOTERIC album has yielded two complete discs of material which essentially adds an extra five albums tagged onto the official count. After a lengthy eight years since “Paragon Of Dissonance,” ESOTERIC returns with A PYRRHIC EXISTENCE which once again delivers another massive expanse of deathly funeral doom metal as yet another double album that believe it or not contains a mere six tracks.

Clocking in at over 98 minutes, yep, that’s over an hour and a half of A PYRRHIC EXISTENCE, every track is over 15 minutes long except “Antim Yatra” which is just shy of 5. Refusing to show any compromise in the psychedelic surreal metal that sounds like no other, ESOTERIC chose to open this new release with the lengthiest track “Descent” which at just shy of the 28 minute mark is longer than most EPs and an immediate warning for those who lack the patience of a meditative guru seeking enlightenment to pack up their bags and leave town. This is not a speed metal album after all. This is doom metal slowed down to a near cryogenic halt where tempos ooze by at a snail’s pace and ferocious atmospheric suffocation smothers every protruding guitar riff echoing in and out of existence.

Musically speaking, “Paragon Of Dissonance” tackled a slightly new detour for ESOTERIC which tweaked the playing style a bit, switched up the atmospheres in a somewhat familiar but slightly off congruency while delivering the expected soul-crushing funeral doom metal goods complete with the tortured growly vocals emerging from he depths of hell. On A PYRRHIC EXISTENCE the band seems to return back to the style delivered on albums such as “The Maniacal Vale” and while ESOTERIC has returned to a somewhat familiar overall sound, PYRRHIC is anything but a repeat of the past although a perfunctory spin of the uninitiated may not yield obvious differences.

ESOTERIC is a band that you have to adapt your entire being to in order to absorb its magnanimous delivery of incessant swirls of gnarled guitar chords, unstable atmospheric smokescreens and occasional rampages through an excitable bout of death doom outbursts. A careful listen will reveal that the album, while existing exclusively in the ESOTERIC zone, is actually quite diverse although it does take it’s sweet time in changing things up. This is what i call slow metabolism metal which makes those rare “hulk smash” faster tempos such as those in “Rotting In Dereliction” stand out even more. While it’s really easy just to sit back and meditate to any given ESOTERIC album, an active listen reveals a plethora of soundscapes interacting in a multitude of ways albeit like a taffy pulling context in the deep freeze.

Overall the compositions on A PYRRHIC EXISTENCE are outstanding with an excellent interplay of guitar parts in conjunct with the roaring synth driven atmospheres. The desperation of Greg Chandler’s vocals has never been more effective and the constantly evolving composiitons zigzag around like a drunken sloth finding its way out of a cornfield maze. While ESOTERIC had mastered the art of crafting massive sprawls of apocalyptic soundscapes from the very beginning, PYRRHIC only reinforces that the band is in no danger of losing its touch. Listening to an ESOTERIC album may be the musical equivalent of driving through the never-ending deserts of Nevada with one mountain range ceding into the next valley of sagebrush filled land but it’s this very spareness that allows the subtle elements to become ever more cherished. To sum it up, this is a triumphant return to funeral doom glory.

CONSECRATION Fragilium

Album · 2019 · Death-Doom Metal
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Kev Rowland
Formed back in 2010, this is the second full-length album from the Norwich-based band, following on from 2014’s ‘Ephemerality’. While doom is obviously at the heart of what there are undertaking, there are also plenty of elements of death and black metal in the overall sound, which makes for a very interesting mix indeed. The opening number, “In Darkened Slumber”, is the shortest on the album at just 7 ½ minutes long and sets an incredibly delicate atmosphere. The band change their style thereafter and become more straight doom, but they never really lose that overarching impression of something that is more than just the musical notes. There is a strength within the fragility, a sense of the ominous, of something quite dark which is hidden behind the curtain waiting to attack.

The production is simply superb, with real, clarity, which is what is required when a song commences just with delicate cymbals, a bass not being plucked and a snare being hit just once in a bar. They slow their doom right down at times, and are always in total control so that the listener is being drawn in. The only way to really appreciate this album is by playing it on good headphones, as there is the risk hat some of the nuances will be lost among ambient sound. But don’t think this is anything but a very heavy album indeed, as there are plenty of dark elements to counteract the light, as here is a band who know exactly what power they have at their disposal yet never really let loose the hounds. Overall this is an incredibly impressive atmospheric doom album which is well worth investigating.

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