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Doom metal

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Doom metal

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Doom metal is a form of heavy metal that emerged as a recognised subgenre in the mid-1980s. It is slow and heavy and intended to evoke an atmosphere of darkness, despair and melancholy. It is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, and a number of early Black Sabbath tracks, such as "Black Sabbath", are often considered embryonic or prototypical doom metal songs.


History of doom metal

Although in the beginning of the 1970s both Black Sabbath and the American Pentagram performed a kind of music that can be considered proto-doom, neither band is generally considered as an actual doom metal band. From the late 1970s to mid 1980s, bands such as Trouble, Saint Vitus and Witchfinder General contributed much to the formation of doom metal as a distinct genre. The form of music played by these artists can be described as being rooted in both the music of Black Sabbath and, especially in the case of Witchfinder General, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The slowness of their music is often also seen as a reaction to the constantly increasing speed of contemporary thrash metal and speed metal. Doom metal first became widely popular with Sweden's Candlemass, who are hailed in the mainstream metal press as one of the most important and influential doom metal bands; their 1986 album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is considered a genre-defining release (at least within the epic subgenre of doom metal). According to the proponents of the classic doom metal style, the most prototypical doom metal band would be Saint Vitus, who released their self-titled debut album in 1984 - two years before doom metal as a genre was recognised in the mainstream metal press.

Doom metal developed further in the early 1990s, when a number of bands started combining the slow, melancholic, doom metal style that was pioneered in the 1980s with influences from death metal and other forms of extreme metal, including growled vocals. The first band to combine these styles may have been the heavily Celtic Frost-influenced Winter, although this style is generally associated with and made popular within mainstream heavy metal by three British bands: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. Nowadays, the original brand of doom metal with clean vocals is usually labelled "classic doom", whereas the later developed styles which involve growled vocals are commonly called "doomdeath" or "death/doom".

During the 1990s the doom metal genre developed further styles, although classic doom and death/doom have remained central to the present. A number of bands, such as The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy took the music of Paradise Lost, got rid of some of the slowness and started experimenting with female vocals[1], thereby helping to create the generally more accessible genre of gothic metal. Although this genre is generally considered to be influenced by doom metal, it is not usually considered a subgenre of doom metal: certain elements, such as the slowness and the emphasis on heavy riffing, are often absent. Other bands took the opposite road and ventured into much more extreme and inaccessible territories, which led to the formation of subgenres such as funeral doom and drone doom, pioneered by Thergothon and Earth respectively.

It has been argued that a nexus exists between doom metal, stoner metal and psychedelic music, although each of these genres have developed on their own. The stoner metal of bands like Kyuss, Monster Magnet and Queens of the Stone Age shares with doom metal a heavy sound and a strong Black Sabbath influence, but generally has a different objective: whereas doom metal aims for dark atmospheres, stoner metal aims for a groovy and psychedelic sound. A number of doom metal bands, however, such as (later) Cathedral and Electric Wizard, have combined doom metal with psychedelic influences, thereby creating a style which can be considered a hybrid form of doom metal and psychedelic rock.

  It should be noted, however, that Paradise Lost themselves made some use of female vocals on their second album, Gothic, in 1991.


Like most kinds of metal, doom metal is typically based upon an instrumentation of vocals, guitar, bass guitar and drums, and heavy guitar riffing is considered an important feature within almost all of its subgenres. Some doom metal bands, especially newer bands, also use keyboards. In classic doom, however, keyboards still are relatively uncommon. Although more commonly associated with gothic metal, a number of doom metal bands, such as My Dying Bride or Funeral, have also made use of violins in their music. On the whole, however, doom metal remains by and large a genre of guitar-oriented music.

Stylistic divisions within doom metal

Traditional doom

Slow, melancholic, riff-based metal influenced by Black Sabbath as well as the NWOBHM movement. Typical examples: Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Solstice, Reverend Bizarre. Four "waves" have so far been recognised in the history of traditional doom: the first one started with the originators of the entire genre, the proto-doom bands Black Sabbath and Pentagram; the second one has been located in the mid-1980s, especially in the work of Saint Vitus and Candlemass; the third one started with the success of Cathedral's debut album Forest of Equilibrium; the fourth one has recently been affiliated with Reverend Bizarre.

Epic doom

A similar form to traditional doom with a stronger medieval and/or fantasy influence. Epic doom traces its roots through more traditional metal such as Manowar and Iron Maiden in addition to emulating the concepts of pre-doom bands such as Black Sabbath. A number of bands who embraced this style emerged from the West Yorkshire region of England in the mid/late 1980s, such as Solstice, and Mourn.


A mixture of doom metal with a number of elements from death metal, most notably growled vocals. Typical examples: Winter, early Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Katatonia, Swallow the Sun.

Funeral doom

Funeral Doom is a style that takes the slowness of doom metal to further extremes, and that puts a strong emphasis on an atmosphere of despair and emptiness. The style can be seen as a departure from death/doom, slowing down the music even further, and frequently incorporating influences from ambient music, creating a sound which is distorted and gloomy, but often dreamy at the same time. Vocals are usually growled, but are often much less in the foreground than in other styles of music, and are rather used to provide an additional texture to the music. The style was originally pioneered by Thergothon, and later also by Skepticism and Funeral; modern examples include Bloody Panda, Shape of Despair, Stabat Mater, and Until Death Overtakes Me.

Drone doom

Also known as drone metal, drone doom is a style which is even more minimalistic and inaccessible than funeral doom. Generally influenced by noise and ambient music, the music often mainly consists of distorted downtuned guitars and bass, usually with lots of reverb applied to the final mix, with clear (melodic) themes being a rarity. Drone doom tracks are generally long, with typical drone tracks lasting between ten and thirty minutes; some drone doom releases even consist of only one album-long track. Vocals and even drums are often absent, and the music often lacks any beat or rhythm in the traditional sense. Like funeral doom, drone doom typically emphasizes despair and emptiness, although apocalyptic and cryptic themes are also common. Innovator Stephen O'Malley, heavily influenced by Earth, can be largely credited with the creation of drone doom as a recognised subgenre, being or having been involved with seminal acts such as Burning Witch and Sunn O))). Sunn O))) and their predecessor Earth can be considered the two most influential bands of the genre.

Stoner doom

A hybrid form of doom metal and stoner rock. Typical examples: (late) Cathedral, Sleep, Acrimony, Eternal Elysium, Spiritual Beggars. A significant borderline case are Electric Wizard, whose music can be seen as a mixture of traditional doom, stoner doom, and sludge doom. Australian doom/stoner band Pod People, have coined the term "stoom" (an portmanteau of 'stoner' and 'doom') to describe this style of music.

Sludge doom

Main article: Sludge metal

Combining the thick, riffing sound of stoner doom with the raw abrasiveness and shrieked vocals of hardcore, sludge is at the outer limits of doom metal and is an acquired taste (although a couple of bands, such as Eyehategod and Crowbar, are fairly well known within the metal community). Even though many sludge bands sport the "booze 'n' bongs" image synonymous with stoner rock, they lack the stoner rockers' positive outlook on life, with lyrical themes typically centered around misery and hatred. Typical examples: Eyehategod, Crowbar, Grief.

See also


External links

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