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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THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM The Doomsday Kingdom Album Cover The Doomsday Kingdom
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ARGUS Boldly Stride The Doomed Album Cover Boldly Stride The Doomed
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4.19 | 16 ratings
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traditional doom metal Music Reviews

WORSHIP OF KERES Bloodhounds for Oblivion

EP · 2016 · Traditional Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
WORSHIP OF KERES is an up and coming traditional doom metal band from Lake Shasta, CA which is just north of Redding. As of early 2020 this band has still not released a full-length album but has so far put out two stellar EPs. This debut titled BLOODHOUNDS FOR OBLIVION was released in 2016 and only contains three tracks that up to 17 minutes but what a nicely done set of tracks this one is!

In Greek mythology the KERES (plural of Ker) were female death-spirits that personified violent death and were drawn to bloody corpses on battle fields so as you can imagine WORSHIP OF KERES crafts a subject matter that is quite dark and based in the occult and other nightmarish tidbits of horror. The music is primarily based in old school death metal particularly from the 80s (think Pentagram, St Vitus, Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General etc) but the band dabbles a bit in NWOBHM as well as thrash for brief moments of time.

BLOODHOUNDS FOR OBLIVION contains three tracks: “Book 1,” “Book 2” and “Book 3” and each connects to the other quite nicely. The music’s procession is a doomy stomp that builds in intensity as it ramps up. The guitar tones are nice and fuzzy but distorted into full metal decibalage. The highlight of the band’s sound for sure are the haunting vocal performances of Elise Tarens. Female fronted doom metal as been all the rage in recent years and it does seem that the slow tempos of doom metal cast the perfect sonic spell for a witchy musical experience.

This EP really comes off as if it’s one single track segmented into three chapters yet it’s not exactly prog or anything but the band has definitely mastered the art of subtle changes in order to keep the music interesting on a more active level but this is a very receptive style of doom metal that generates cyclical melodic loops and uses the dynamics and tempo changes to change things up. This is a really compelling album that portends a band that’s on its way to better days and with the band’s signing to Svart Records it’s very likely that this band won’t be a secret for too much longer. I for one look forward to a full album’s worth of material.

SMOULDER Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring

Album · 2019 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Warthur
There's a thick field of traditional doom metal bands singing about retro-fantasy subjects with women on lead vocals these days, but I guess fair's fair: back in the early days of metal hard rock was a bit of a boy's club, and if redressing the balance sounds this good sign me up.

Packed with lyrical references to classic fantasy - from Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard, and C.L. Moore to Dragonlance - the album has something of a variable mixing job (the vocals can get lost a little, which is a shame), but nonetheless takes the listener on a journey into the barbaric border region between traditional doom metal and classic heavy metal. (I detect a certain amount of classic-period Manilla Road influence which is especially welcome.)

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Death Penalty

Album · 1982 · Traditional Doom Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Before metal was even a decade old the heavier sibling of rock was already shifting gears away from the dark dreary doom metal of Black Sabbath and amping up the sounds of the more operatic and melodic constructs of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple into what would be called the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Despite the trend which found bands like Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Saxon and Def Leppard bringing metal to ever larger audiences, a few bands refused to join the new game in town and looked back to metal’s earliest origins that took the more occult route laced with the slower doom metal riffs.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL was among only a handful of bands which included Sorcery, Pentagram and Death SS which continued the occult themes along with the slower doom metal riffs that would basically launch the subgenre of metal into its own in the 80s alongside the NWOBHM. This band got its start in Stourbridge, England alongside other NWOBHM but stood apart with its horror themes which matched its moniker which came from the 1968 British film of the same name. The band was founded in 1979 by Zeeb Parkes and Phil Cope and although considered a part of the NWOBHM, owed more to early Black Sabbath for its heavy doom riffing and Ozzy Osbourne styled vocal phrasings however the band did implement some of the faster riffing practices of the early 80s.

DEATH PENALTY was the band’s debut and immediately caught attention for the racy cover art which featured a topless model in a yard of a church which sparked outrage and criticism. Along with Parkes (vocals) and Cope (guitar, bass), the band was only a trio with Graham Ditchfield sitting in as drummer. DEATH PENALTY was in effect one of the earliest album’s that took on the full-fledged Sabbath worship since although Pentagram had formed as early as 1973 didn’t release a full-length album until 1985 making WITCHFINDER GENERAL one of the most influential of the second wave of doom metal as the guitar riffs evoked Iommi inspired Sabbathry with nods to classic tracks like “Paranoid” and others.

Perhaps what makes DEATH PENALTY stand apart from other early traditional doom metal albums is that it did mix in a bit of Judas Priest styled riffing as heard in “No Stayer” which sounded like a veritable hybrid of early Priest mixed with Sabbath. There are also much more traditional hard rock blues and overall the album feels like it was created around the 1975 timeline rather than the year 1982 when it was released. DEATH PENALTY is a strong album of doomy NWOBHM inspired retro songs that finds the perfect balance between raw occult fueled sounds and the more operatic rampaging speed metal that was coming of age. While not as evil sounding as early Venom or Celtic Frost, WITCHFINDER GENERAL revived a style of doom metal that some would call witch metal that would be influential for bands like St Vitus of the same decade as well as later bands like Blood Ceremony. All in all a really compelling early slice of doom metal with some NWOBHM influences on board.

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.

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