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Funeral doom is a sub-genre of doom metal which has many of the hallmarks of more traditional doom, e.g. low tuned guitar work creating an extremely heavy sound and slow tempos. The tempos in funeral doom are generally even slower and often likened to and give the impression of a funeral dirge. It contains death doom elements and often shares the growl style vocal work of that sub-genre as well as cleaner mournful vocals. The use of keyboards is common, generally used to create atmospheric ambient passages. Bands such as Sketicism, Thergothon, Esoteric and Evoken are considered pioneers of the genre in the early nineties.

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EA Ea Taesse Album Cover Ea Taesse
4.54 | 6 ratings
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SKEPTICISM Stormcrowfleet Album Cover Stormcrowfleet
4.41 | 12 ratings
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ESOTERIC The Pernicious Enigma Album Cover The Pernicious Enigma
4.37 | 14 ratings
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ESOTERIC The Maniacal Vale Album Cover The Maniacal Vale
4.35 | 19 ratings
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ESOTERIC A Pyrrhic Existence Album Cover A Pyrrhic Existence
4.50 | 5 ratings
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HAMFERÐ Tamsins Likam Album Cover Tamsins Likam
4.46 | 6 ratings
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MONOLITHE Monolithe I Album Cover Monolithe I
4.39 | 6 ratings
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AHAB The Call of the Wretched Sea Album Cover The Call of the Wretched Sea
4.25 | 17 ratings
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EVOKEN Embrace The Emptiness Album Cover Embrace The Emptiness
4.30 | 9 ratings
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EVOKEN Atra Mors Album Cover Atra Mors
4.25 | 12 ratings
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MONOLITHE Monolithe II Album Cover Monolithe II
4.33 | 5 ratings
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ESOTERIC Subconscious Dissolution Into The Continuum Album Cover Subconscious Dissolution Into The Continuum
4.22 | 10 ratings
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EA Ea Taesse

Album · 2006 · Funeral Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While the band name EA may sound like a really lame name for a metal band, it all starts to make much more sense once you discover that the term was borrowed from an ancient deity of Babylonian mythology which when taken into consideration with the lengthy dreamlike funeral doom metal that this band cranks out. EA is a band of mystery with absolutely no information to be found due to the band’s desire to remain in complete anonymity and let the music speak for itself. While there is speculation that this band is actually from Russia, on its Bandcamp site it lists Cody, Wyoming as its place of origin but it has also listed Antarctica thus adding more enigmatic uncertainty to anything about his band at all.

One can only go by what the band claims itself and it seems that EA relies on ancient sacred texts written in a dead language for inspiration and crafts a musical vision that is purportedly interpreting the voices of the ancients that have finally reached us through the centuries. Whatever the case EA formed in 2005 and released its debut EA TAESSE which is a 54 plus minute song split into three parts. The basis of this funeral doom metal like bands such as Esoteric, Shape Of Despair and others is a slow plodding display of sustaining guitar drones that take on a dirge-like procession accompanied by the punctuated beats of drums. EA is exceptionally talented at crafting an atmospheric counterpoint which is where the true diversity of the album resides.

In addition to the plodding guitar distortion, EA employs classical piano runs, synthesized ambience and choir melodies which give the overall music a melodic melancholy that goes above and beyond the duty of the average funeral doom metal band. Although this gives EA TAESSE the feeling that it is really a dark ambient album with metal accoutrements instead of a bonafide extreme metal release, it nevertheless is quite effective in crafting some of the most ethereal and surreal sounds laid out in a doom metal procession regardless of subgenre nomenclature. One could even go as far as calling this symphonic funeral doom metal and that would probably be the best description of it. Despite the extreme slow plodding of the guitar riffs that include a soaring lead as well as a bass driven chord sustain, the tempo does pick up from time to time with heavier emphasis on the bass and drums but the atmospheric river of melancholy remains steadily perched above the metal content to infuse an impending sense of dread.

Like any music of this type, you really have to be in it for the long haul and have no expectations of head banging fury or be in a hurry to rush through it. This is music that oozes into your soul and slowly coats it with an emotive cloak of atmospheric awe. While mostly instrumental, growly vocals do emerge from beneath the guitar fuzz and atmospheric ambience but overall vocals are quite rare save the incessant choir melodies that anchor the melodic constructs to the rhythmic dirges. In between the long haul of epic riffs and emotive oversoul themes are acoustic insertions, melodic guitar leads that soar like a drifting glacier as well as moments of pure ambient music and horror elements. There are also speculations that due to the fact that EA sounds similar to the Russian Melodic Death Doom act Откровения Дождя (known to non-Russian speakers as 'Revelations of Rain’), that at the very least there could possibly be some members involved in this project.

Whatever the case regarding this mysterious band’s identity and whereabouts, one thing is for sure and that is that EA delivers a satisfying 54 minutes plus of quality atmospheric funeral doom metal laced with haunting melodies and dirges of doom sounding unlike any other in the field. Although it’s tempting to lump all such funeral doom acts in the same category, it’s really the subtleties that make or break such acts as the tightrope tension walks are what make it a compelling listen or simply one that irritates to high heaven. Personally i find EA TAESSE to live up to the hype that it exudes an epic timeless feel that very well could be the voices of the ancients channeled through modern day musicians. At the very least, what a cool gimmick! EA has released so far 5 albums but this is perhaps the best as it perfectly exemplifies some strange ancient Babylonian ritual that has been all but lost in time.

THERGOTHON Stream From the Heavens

Album · 1994 · Funeral Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Finland’s THERGOTHON was one of the earliest pioneering funeral doom metal bands along with the Russian Вой (Voj) and Swiss Mordor by having released its debut EP “Fhtagn-nagh Yog-Sothoth” as far back as 1991 with the aforementioned two bands. THERGOTHON was formed in Kaarina, Finland in 1990 by by vocalist Niko Sirkiä, drummer Jori Sjöroos and guitarist Mikko Ruotsalainen as a death metal band but quickly switched over to doom metal followed by Sami Kaveri joining as a second guitarist. A demo titled “Dancing In The Realm Of Shades” preceded the EP.

Looking like the band was set to sail, that’s when everything went topsy turvy with Kaveri leaving the band so THERGOTHON decided to focus exclusively on recording music in the studio and not play any live shows. As the band’s doom metal sound began to evolve it grew slower and darker with elements of death metal but went beyond the mere hybridization of death-doom and crafted eerie atmospheres with the inclusion of keyboards. The band had finished recording its one and only album STREAM FROM THE HEAVENS as early as 1992 but due to significant delays but finally found a home on the Italian record label Avantgarde Music.

STREAM FROM THE HEAVENS officially was released on 15 June 1994 and is considered one of the earliest landmark albums of the funeral doom metal subgenre and remains popular in the modern era often appearing on top funeral doom metal album charts. The lineup had been significantly reduced since the band’s inception and on this album has become the mere trio of Niko “Skorpio” Sirkiä on vocals and keyboards, Mikko Ruotsalainen on guitars and Jori Sjöroos on drums and vocals. The album hosts six dirge-like tracks with some such as "Yet the Watchers Guard” and “Elemental” hovering around the nine minute mark thus showcasing a sneak preview of the standards by which funeral doom metal would evolve.

Sirkiä has explained that the music was created to express the existential fear that one experiences at the end of adolescence when one is thrust into a cruel unforgiving world and all the pent up uncertainties that go along with it. While many Scandinavian extreme metal bands were falling into either the black metal route or the death metal routes with increasing speeds, intensity and jarring characteristics, THERGOTHON seemed to exhibit a form of paralysis and went the opposite direction by slowing down tempos to a snail’s pace with doom-laden guitar riffs and a bass and drum rhythm section to follow. While this type of music can easily become boring quite quickly if not infused with an inspiring methodology of keeping things interesting, THERGOTHON added creepy keyboard crafted atmospheres that haunt the background while the thunderous guitar stomps sustain and proceed in their funeral march processions.

There are also moments of homegrown folk music creeping in as well and while the majority of vocals are evil sounding guttural death growls and also sporadic clean vocals in the style of Viking music popularized by bands like Enslaved on later releases. As far as i’m aware this was quite rare at this point in time considering Amorphis is often cited as a pioneer in adding folk elements to their death metal release “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” which also appeared in 1994 so considering STREAM FROM THE HEAVENS was finished as far back as 1992, the addition of Finnish folk elements to extreme metal may actually originate with THERGOTHON. In addition to the growls and clean vocals which include moments of liturgical chants, there are a few spoken word moments which seem to represent a sermon of some sort only not the kind your grandparents would approve of for sure.

Of the three pioneers of funeral doom metal which found THERGOTHON in third place, it’s this band that seems to have gotten the credit as most inspiring innovator of the style probably because they did it in a way that was the most accessible and in the process inspired the entire funeral doom metal subgenre with several bands such as Rigor Sardonicous, Mournful Congregations, Beneath Oblivion and Ea crafting similar sounds to this sole THERGOTHON album. While not as surreal as bands like Esoteric or as hardcore as bands like Skepticism, THERGOTHON gracefully constructed that fine line between glacial doom metal with a dungeon synth accompaniment which was utterly unique at the time and still holds up well some 26 years after its release.

URNA Mors Imperatrix Mundi

EP · 2005 · Funeral Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
URNA was formed in 2003 in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia off Italy’s western coast by Roberto Mura (vocals) and Marco Z (guitar, bass). The band was formed with the idea of bringing many ideas of black metal into the mix but the duo quickly became enamored with the sounds of the atmospheric black metal hybridization of dungeon synth with industrial from the likes of Tronus Abyss along with the slow plodding doom metal of Void of Silence, both emerging from Italy’s underground metal scene.

The project evolved into a blackened form of ambient funeral doom metal and the duo released a debut demo titled “Justia Funebria” which some databases consider the first proper album but since it’s impossible to find anywhere to hear it i will ignore it and consider this following EP titled MORS IMPERATRIX MUNDI to be the first available to listen release which came out in 2005. There are actually two versions of this one. The first was a four track EP that consisted of four tracks and clocked in at 34 minutes while a re-release on the GSP label came out in 2014 with two extra tracks that basically doubled the playing time with the 25 minute closer “Incipit modesta vita (Malus vivendi).”

Despite the EP status this is basically a full-length album although it’s possible that this is designated as an EP because the original release featured three original tracks and the bonus cover of Mayhem’s classic “De mysteriis dom sathanas.” The sounds on MORS IMPERATRIX MUNDI really does blur the line between dark ambient / dungeon synth, atmospheric black metal and gloomy funeral doom metal. The production is excellent as it captures the bleakness of space synth in the cold impersonal universe while capturing the droning distortion of doom metal chords and plodding rhythms. The black metal aspects come in with the raspy vocals, guitar tones and overall feel.

The first three tracks are hypnotic and flow like molasses as synthesized sounds provide a percussive drive while metal oriented distortion from guitars sustains. The only true black metal performances comes from the Mayhem cover and it is actually quite a decent cover equalling or excelling the quality over the original. The two bonus tracks on the 2014 edition are more or less lengthy excursions into dark ambient soundscapes that ramble on for lengthy processions down various avenues much like a Klaus Schulze album as it provides an alienating effect. The 25 minute closer eschews guitar altogether and drifts off into the vastness of space.

Funeral doom metal covers a wide range of styles ranging from the guitar driven lo-fi offerings of Skepticism to the ethereal and surreal sonicscapes of Esoteric but blackened funeral doom wasn’t quite the thing back when URNA cranked out their series of albums that merged the two styles of metal into a single musical paradigm. Like many funeral doom releases, this one requires patience and the ability to passively let the random sounds float by but for my personal likings i find this one to hit all the right notes with production precision that allows all the elements to be heard and a nice mix of gritty metal sounds with spaced out dark ambient and dungeon synth. Not quite as out there as Esoteric but approaching that side of the spectrum.

SLOW VI - Dantalion

Album · 2019 · Funeral Doom Metal
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Kev Rowland
I live in New Zealand, a country with incredible landscapes and wonderful people, which in terms of geothermic activity is also fairly active. All kiwis enjoy going to the multiple places where it is possible to swim in thermally heated water or have been to Hot Water Beach and dug spa pools in the sand, and when it comes to earthquakes, we all think we’re experts. Since moving to Aotearoa in 2006 there have been three major quakes, two of which caused loss of life, but generally when we feel a quake we have discussions as to how big it was and how far away, and then all check the GeoNet app on our phones to see how close we were. Why do I mention this? It’s just because I am sure the tectonic plates often move more quickly than these guys. Slow by name, slow by nature, this is funeral doom where Déhà can strike a chord, and while the strings are still resonating he can go to the bar, order a drink, and still have plenty of time to strike the next one. On top of that, this atmospheric music is unbelievably heavy yet although we can all feel the weight of the music all around is, it is somehow never unbearably oppressive.

For many years Slow were just Déhà (all instruments), and this is the first album where someone else has been involved, Lore (lyrics, concepts, bass, vocals (backing), arrangements). Between them they have created something which is majestic, all-encompassing, doom which has also contains huge elements of atmospheric black metal as if Burzum and Sabbath have gone somewhere and recorded at quarter speed. That somewhere had to be a cave in Scandinavia, in the winter, music like this has no business at all coming out of Belgium. Play this to the powers that be in Brussels and the EU would collapse like the house of cards it undoubtedly is.

Any slower and this band would be going backwards, any heavier and the music would never get up off the floor. Perfect music to listen to in the dark of the night, outside with headphones on, looking up at the stars with a drink in hand. Majestic.

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.

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