yes, another one - this time it's about Doom Metal:
When Black Sabbath invented Heavy Metal in the early seventies they played it dark and heavy but also slow. Later bands such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden speeded it up but other, mostly pretty obscure artists kept to the Black Sabbath formula of keeping the music heavy but slow. This type of Metal was called Doom Metal and during the era of Thrash and Death Metal, when playing fast was the most popular thing for Metal bands, Doom Metal remained very much a niche market of rather obscure and not very popular bands.
The Doom Metal pioneers then were not very well known or successful at the time. From Virginia, Pentagram were the first to follow Sabbath into Doom Metal. They started playing and recording very Black Sabbath influenced music in the late seventies but it wasn’t until 1985 that they released their debut album, a self titled album nicknamed Relentless after one of the tracks. This was followed two years later by Day of Reckoning (1987).
Another early Doom Metal band was Saint Vitus from Los Angeles. Their debut album, called simply Saint Vitus (1984) and also their second album Hallow’s Victim (1985) introduced the band’s impressively sludgy sound but for many people 1986’s Born Late is the classic Saint Vitus album, featuring as it does vocalist Scott Weinrich from the Obsessed, another early Doom Metal band from Maryland.
The other great pioneer of Doom Metal was Trouble. With their first two albums (Psalm 9 (1984) and The Skull(1985)), Trouble introduced an unusual religious tone to Heavy Metal lyrics, creating biblical Doom Metal. On later albums, such as 1992’s Manic Frustration Trouble shifted their style from classic Doom to a Stoner Rock direction (Doom Metal influenced by Psychedelic Rock).
Those pioneers didn’t make much money. The first Doom Metal band to have any kind of success was Sweden’s Candlemass, a band who not only helped to popularise Doom but who also gave it a fantasy themed and theatrical/operatic twist (ala Iron Maiden) that was dubbed Epic Doom by critics and fans. Their debut album, 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus was significant enough but with the addition of vocalist Messiah Marcolin for Nightfall (1987) and the two albums that followed it (Ancient Dreams (1988) and Tales of Creation (1989)) Candlemass became quite a legendary force in heavy metal history. Nightfall in particular contains so many classic Doom anthems, tracks that add a delightful melodramatic intensity to the Sabbath influence. ‘Well of Souls’, ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Mourner’s Lament’ are three that come instantly to mind. When Messiah Marcolin left the band however they struggled to make the same impact.
Another band who brought Doom Metal to much greater prominence than before was Cathedral in the early nineties. Cathedral was formed by Lee Dorian, ex-vocalist of Napalm Death. Seemingly frustrated by the fast music and short tracks of Napalm Death, Lee Dorian brought things down to a funereal crawl with very long tracks on Cathedral’s debut album Forest of Equilibrium (1991). This torturously slow form of Doom (a kind of extreme Doom Metal) would become an influence on a brand of Doom Metal known as Funeral Doom. Funeral Doom bands like Thergothon would take things to even greater extremes of slowness. But Cathedral themselves sped things up for the follow up album The Ethereal Mirror (1993) and although still a gravelly and forboding offering, The Ethereal Mirror was the beginning of a move by Cathedral towards Stoner Metal, the psychedelic form of Doom. Carnival Bizarre (1995) was very like its predecessor but with a bit more of a groove to it and the next couple of releases afterwards were definitely Stoner Metal or perhaps even Stoner Rock. More recently however, Cathedral have returned to the heavy doom sound of albums such as The Ethereal Mirror, without doubt their most popular album.
Around the same time as Cathedral were making major waves, a style of Doom arose that contained elements of Death Metal and also of Goth. Known as Death/Doom this style was mainly created by British bands, especially from Yorkshire. Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride are probably the two most important Death/Doom bands. Paradise Lost started sounding a lot like a Death Metal band on their first two albums, Lost Paradise (1990) and Gothic (1991) but then the Doomy and Gothic albums started to show up, first on Shades of God (1992), which contained an exquisite single in ‘As I Die’ and then with Icon (1993). By 1997’s One Second however the Gothic elements were mostly all that remained, the band now wearing their Depeche Mode influences on their sleeves. My Dying Bride however have remained largely consistent over the years, churning out the same Gothic Doom Metal for album after album. The debut album As the Flower Withers (1991) sat squarely in the Death/Doom category. Then the band added violin to second album Turn Loose the Swans (1993) and they hit something of a formula with this sound, following Turn Loose the Swans with the Angel and the Dark River (1995) and Gods of the Sun (1996). These last two albums however ditched the growling Death Metal vocals in favour of a cleaner, more tuneful style, albeit one that was absolutely drenched in melancholy and despair. An ill thought out but short-lived experimental period followed but then My Dying Bride soon got back to business as usual with the wonderful album, The Light at the End of the World (1999). This time however there was no violin and the clean vocals were accompanied once more by the Death Metal style. My Dying Bride have pretty much continued with this approach ever since, releasing fabulously miserable albums such as the Dreadful Hours (2001), Songs of Darkness, Words of Light (2004) and For Lies I Sire (2009).
Other forms of Doom emerged in the early nineties. Popularised by Candlemass, Cathedral and the popular Death/Doom acts such as My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, Doom Metal was now a successful enough scene to diversify and split off into niche subgenres. There was Epic Doom, Death/Doom, Funeral Doom, Stoner Doom, Drone Metal and Sludge Metal.
Stoner Doom really got under way with American bands like Kyuss and Sleep. Blues for the Red Sun (1992) by Kyuss is in particular the classic text for the Stoner Doom subgenre. Some of the members of Kyuss went on to form Queens of the Stone Age, who took the Stoner sound towards mainstream acceptance and fans of Alternative Metal. A British band called Electric Wizard, following very closely in the footsteps of Cathedral is another important Stoner Doom band and their albums Come My Fanatics (1997) and Dopethrone (2000) are considered to be classics.
In New Orleans a dark and edgy form of Doom Metal was created that mixed Doom with Hardcore Punk. Called Sludge Metal, the style is largely the creation of Eyehategod, whose key albums Take as Needed For Pain (1993), Dopesick (1996) and Confederacy of Ruined Lives (2000) are must haves for any fan of dark angst such as Black Flag and depressing metal such as Black Sabbath and Cathedral. Other sludge bands include Crowbar, Grief and Acid Bath.
Drone Metal meanwhile is a very avant-garde form of Doom Metal that consists of drones, notes that are sustained and repeated throughout the music. This style, inspired by Minimalist composers, features a lot of reverb and feedback and very little rhythm. Some artists of Drone Metal are Sunn O))) and Earth.
Doom continues to be popular. It’s heyday I suppose was in the early nineties, when bands like Cathedral and Paradise Lost were making Doom Metal the most popular it has ever been but like Black Metal and Death Metal, Doom has won a place in metallers hearts as a style that somehow sounds modern and edgy, extreme but also comfortingly traditional during these times of nu-metal and metalcore. If you like the edginess of Death Metal and the atmosphere of Black Metal but you also want a traditional metal feel, like the great pioneers Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, if you want music that is both heavy and slow then Doom Metal hits the spot every time.