By Dillon O’Toole
Have you ever found yourself listening to a song? Probably, right? I mean, listening to music is something that most people can relate to, unless, of course, you’re one of those strange people who doesn’t listen to music. Now, the real question is, have you ever found yourself listening to a song and thinking “man, I wish this song was played at a really slow tempo and repeated the same riff for the entire song”? If yes, then Doom Metal is the music genre made perfectly for you.
Now, I am oversimplifying my description of Doom Metal a little, but in its most basic form, the genre can be classified as Black Sabbath-esque riffs played at a much slower tempo. If you couldn’t guess by my description in the last sentence, Black Sabbath is quite influential to Doom Metal. More specifically, guitarist Tony Iommi’s playing style is often credited as a major influence to Doom Metal bands. What’s so special about this playing style you might ask? Well, Iommi lost the tips of two of his fingers in a workplace accident, forcing him to adapt how he played guitar. He played with thimbles over these fingers, which meant he couldn’t apply the necessary pressure to the strings when they were properly tuned. He then down-tuned the strings, which loosened them, making it easier to apply pressure, and thus was credited with inventing the sound of heavy metal.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah–this genre of music that very few people have heard of. According to Wikipedia, “Doom Metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much ‘thicker’ or ‘heavier’ sound than other heavy metal genres.” Now, I know I have sort of described Doom Metal before (including in this article), but now you have an actual definition. In addition, “both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom.” Charming, isn’t it? But in all seriousness, for a so-called extreme genre of “extreme” metal, Doom is quite tame compared to the likes of Death and Black Metal. The vocals are mostly clean, i.e. growling and screaming are not the primary method of singing (although they still can be present), and the music is not as overtly technical as it can be in other genres of metal. As a result of these qualities, I would consider it to be an easier introduction to the more extreme forms of music as it isn’t too big of a jump from more commonly heard genres of music.
As is tradition when I write about music, it’s now time for me to give both song and band suggestions. Sorry about the upcoming italics, Matt.
Firstly, let’s talk about those artists who follow more closely to the Black Sabbath roots of the genre. Monolord is one such band. Hailing from Sweden, they have released five albums since 2014. In my opinion, their best album to date is their second album Vænir, featuring songs such as Cursing the One, and Died a Million Times (also my experience in any Soulsborne games *hint hint* read my other article). Outside of that album, other great songs by Mononlord include Empress Rising, Rust, At Niceae, The Last Leaf, The Weary, and I’ll Be Damned. Another great band that is more focused on the riffs would have to be Transylvania Stud. This single man band has one album, White Witch, and it features some excellent musicianship. The highlights from the album are the songs Unconditional Numb, Long Way Down, and In Over Your Head. If you enjoy his music, you should also check out the video that accompanies the album as it is a music video for the entire album. Another great band that demonstrates the epitome of a classic Doom Metal riff is Windhand. Some of my personal favorites from this band (since I can’t just say them all), are Winter Sun, Orchard, Feral Bones, Forest Clouds, Crypt Key, Grey Garden, and First to Die. Additionally, Windhand also excels at acoustic songs, especially Pilgrim’s Rest.
Moving to a different category of bands, these upcoming artists are typically classified as Stoner Doom Metal, mainly due to their excessive use and references to Marijuana. Bands like Spaceslug and Stoned Jesus feature such amazing songs like Beneath the Haze and I’m the Mountain. But one cannot talk about Stoner Metal bands without talking about the band Sleep. These masters of the weed have released classics such as Holy Mountain, Marijuanaut’s Theme, and Giza Butler (a reference to Black Sabbath member Geezer Butler). On top of this, they also released an hour-long song called Dopesmoker, a sound that is about the “weedian’s” journey through the desert (I think, the band was clearly stoned when writing this song so it’s not exactly clear).
Since writing about every band and song that I like within this genre would likely take way too long, I will leave you with the last few recommendations of bands I think are quite good. These are Elder, Khemmis, and Villagers of Ioannina City (although this band also features a lot of progressive rock influences). That is all for today–don’t be too much of a doomer, now.