No, this isn't a rant about the way our music industry is heading or an article about the impending doom of mankind. This is just an article about doom metal.
Doom metal is somewhat of a new genre to me; I have always been more of a thrash/death metal guy. But lately, I've been really interested in the genre and it's subgenres, and I feel a need to share my excitement.
So, what is doom metal? Well, it's metal. It's THE metal. Ever heard of Black Sabbath? You should have. Sabbath is officially the first metal band to exist, and every single band in the world that has been formed after the year 1970 is influenced by Sabbath's work. But why am I telling you this? Well, this is an article about doom metal. And Black Sabbath is the pioneer of doom metal. If you think of "Paranoid" when someone says "Sabbath", think again. You should think of songs like "Black Sabbath", "War Pigs" and "Children Of The Grave". Those are the earliest examples of the genre know as doom metal, and they represent this style of music in it's rawest form. Especially the first album, which is a timeless doom metal classic. Slow, gloomy riffs, tritones, depressing lyrics, dark mood... Early Sabbath has it all. And of course, being the first metal band in the world, they have influenced every other metal band in the world.
But some bands didn't merely take influence, some bands tried to duplicate that darkness and doom of Black Sabbath. As others pioneered new genres, these bands faithfully followed in the tracks of Black Sabbath and improved their style, resulting in the genre we call doom metal. 12 years after Sabbath's debut album, a British band known as Witchfinder General released theirs. They are known as one of the pioneers of doom metal genre, and are without a doubt one of the most influential doom acts in existence.
Two years after Witchfinder General's debut two revered American doom metal bands released their first albums. Trouble and Saint Vitus both released their debut albums in 1984. Both bands followed Sabbath's footsteps accurately, while still sounding original, and of course, dark and gloomy. Saint Vitus is known as one of the most important bands of the whole genre, and although they are one of the earliest bands in the genre they are still relevant today. Trouble can also be considered one of the fathers of doom, even though their music has since slipped to a more psychedelic direction.
A year after the first albums of Trouble and Vitus another American doom band released it's debut. This band is known as Pentagram, a band who took Sabbath's doom influence and added a little bit of aggression. Having shorter but faster songs than the earlier pioneers, Pentagram managed to add it's own unique influence to the genre, while still sounding like pure doom metal.
But not only UK and US had what it takes to create perfect doom metal. In 1986, a year after Pentagram's debut, a Swedish band known as Candlemass released their first record. Candlemass has ever since been one of the most influential and important bands in the genre. They had more theatrical elements in their music than the earlier bands, which only added to the atmosphere of the music. Candlemass is labeled "epic doom metal", a genre that fits the band perfectly. Because their music is pretty damn epic.
There are many bands who follow the style of 80's pioneering doom metal bands and keep the genre alive. At the 90's, bands like Solstice, Cathedral and Solitude Aeternus made a name for themselves and kept the black flame of doom metal burning. Even today, bands like Orchid follow the path of Black Sabbath and deliver new but still awesome metal for the gloomy fanbase of doom.
But in the 90's a new, more shocking and even heavier style of music surfaced from the dark depths of human creativity. "Gothic", an album by Paradise Lost released in 1990, marks the birth of the holy union of doom metal and death metal. This genre that I'll call "doomdeath" from now on combines the darkness and gloom of doom metal with the brutality of death metal. Paradise Lost is not only one of the pioneers of this genre, but also an important band in the traditional doom metal scene. Their album "Icon", released in 1993, is a traditional doom metal record with gothic influences, while their first two albums are classic doom-death records.
Paradise Lost is still only one of the pioneers of doom-death. Two years after their debut, a band called My Dying Bride released their first record, known as "As The Flower Withers". This is a classic doomdeath album, and My Dying Bride is definitely one of the most important doom-death bands.
But as we go forward another year, we find ourselves in the year 1993 with two important doom-death records. The other one is the debut album of the band known as Anathema. Together with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, it forms the trinity of early British doom-death. But again, the British couldn't hog all the honor from pioneering the said style of music. Again, we can thank Sweden for delivering some excellent early doom-death that can hold its ground against the British doom giants. Slightly less than a year after Anathema's debut a Swedish band called Katatonia released theirs. "Dance Of December Souls" was a huge success among the doom metal fanbase, and is still considered one of the greatest classic in this genre.
It's too bad that almost all of the pioneering doomdeath bands have since changed their music style to a calmer and more depressing sound, often playing gothic and atmospheric rock. But well, at least we have some great music to remember them by.
As the death metal influenced doom metal grew in popularity, some gloomy Finnish dudes decide to come up with something even darker and more depressing. A year after Anathema's and Katatonia's debut albums a Finnish band called Thergothon released their debut record. A year after that, another Finnish group called Skepticism released theirs. Both of these bands played slower, darker and sadder style of doom metal, that came to be known as funeral doom metal.
Thergothon is officially the first funeral doom metal band in the world, as their debut album "Stream From The Heavens" was the first funeral doom record. Unfortunately it was also their last, but fortunately they managed to influence other people with similar taste, which resulted in the birth of the funeral doom genre. The most important band that took influence from Thergothon was Skepticism, a funeral doom act that is considered one of the most influential pioneers of the said genre and a band that is still relevant today. Even though Thergothon failed at carrying on with their music, Skepticism carries their torch with pride and manages to deliver the finest funeral doom metal in existence.
But at this point, the genre of doom metal split into two. The other, more depressing and emotional side developed into funeral doom, while the other, more technical and hypnotic side turned into drone doom.
A band named Earth released it's debut in 1993, pioneering the drone doom genre and confusing a lot of metalheads. Their music was differed from doomdeath and funeral doom by being more hypnotic and repetitive, giving fans a chance to completely submerge themselves into the music. It was still slow and low, but instead of sadness and melancholy it utilized emptiness and mystery; Instead of giving fans a way to relate to their music through depression or anger they created their own emotion, slowly hypnotizing the listener to a trance. Drone doom never caught the same attention as the rest of the doom subgenres but it is still one of the most interesting metal subgenres out there, still influencing and impressing new fans.
But what about doom metal as general? What do I have to say about the genre as a whole? Well, it's a near perfect style of music. Even if you don't really like the brutal growls of death metal, you can still appreciate the emotion of doom metal. If you're a die hard extreme metal fan, you will still enjoy the heavy, crushing riffs of early doom metal. Never listened to metal before? Doom is a good place to start. I'm going to give you some recommendations from each of the doom subgenres:
Traditional Doom Metal:
Black Sabbath - "Black Sabbath"
Witchfinder General - "Friends Of Hell"
Trouble - "Psalm 9"
Saint Vitus - "Born Too Late"
Pentagram - "Be Forewarned"
Candlemass - "Ancient Dreams"
Cathedral - "Forest Of Equilibrium"
Solstice - "New Dark Age"
Solitude Aeternus - "Beyond The Crimson Horizon"
Paradise Lost - "Gothic"
My Dying Bride - "The Angel And The Dark River"
Anathema - "The Silent Enigma"
Katatonia - "Dance Of December Souls"
Funeral Doom Metal:
Thergothon - "Stream Form The Heavens"
Skepticism - "Stormcrowfleet"
Evoken - "Antithesis Of Light"
Mournful Congregation - "The Monad of Creation"
Esoteric - "The Pernicious Enigma"
Ahab - "The Call Of The Wretched Sea"
Earth - "HEX; or Printing In The Infernal Method"
Sunn O))) - "Monoliths And Dimensions"
Khanate - "Khanate"
Post scriptum thing - I haven't got the faintest idea why I wrote this. I just had a sudden urge to write something about metal music, and I happened to be feeling a bit doomy. I hope I managed to help or at least entertain someone, and if people like this one I might do another one with a different genre. Please share any criticism or comments in the comment section.