Doom Metal is an extreme genre of Heavy Metal, with the foundation for it set by the Black Sabbath….who pretty much set the foundation for all things metal. Pioneer Doom Metal bands such as Candlemass, Saint Vitus and Trouble rose to metal audience’s attention in the mid to late 80s. Characteristics of Doom Metal include a slower tempos, lower tuned, sludgy sounding guitars, complimented with lyrics and an atmosphere of despair and impending…uh…doom. Vocals can be clean or similar to that of death metal, Its those primary elements listed above that matter. It has nothing to do with the leader of Latveria. Sorry Victor….
Whatever plateface. Anyways, the following five albums are my favorites of this genre, which I was exposed to in the early 90s in much thanks to the aforementioned bands, along with a wave of more modern Doom Metal which came about in the years to come. Some people will agree with these choices, many will likely disagree. Take it as you will. To me, these albums are essential listening
Candlemass-Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
The quintessential Doom Metal album. While Black Sabbath laid down the Doom Metal foundation, Sweden’s Candlemass put up the framework with their 1986 debut LP. 6 man-sized tracks that come at you like bulldozers. With hard, crushing, fist-breaking riffs, powerful vocals filled with despair, and an apocalyptic ambiance make this the perfect starting point for anyone interested in the genre.
I’m pretty positive that longtime fans of this band who are reading this article are thinking “This is not a Doom record. Why is this guy not listing Lost Paradise? Icon? Gothic?” Well, to ME at least, it most certainly is a Doom Metal album. How Doomy you ask? The inspiration behind this album was the MS Estonia catastrophe (Google it). This 1995 classic shows the West Yorkshire-based band at a transition point in their career. While they still display the brutal riffs and gloomy aspects found in the previously mentioned albums, they enhance the experience with clean, yet aggressive vocals, a Gothic tinge similar to that of Sisters of Mercy and a slick, top-notch production value. The end product is, to me, their finest hour; a sonic onslaught that will leave the listener forever changed. Paradise Lost has recently made the return to the Death Doom sound of their heyday, but nobody will forget this classic, quality album.
That same year, a barely known death metal band from Holland rolled the dice, completely modified their sound and replaced their cookie-monster grunting vocalist with the polar opposite. Enter Anneke van Giersbergen, a fiery-haired beauty with a set of golden pipes. Fueled by the new vocalist, the band went from a run of the mill Doom Metal band with growling vocals to a soulful, ethereal outfit. Behind the crunching, heavy-laden wall of sound, Anneke enchants you with her lucid, dreamstate vocal stylings, creating some of the most beautiful Doom you will ever hear. This album paved the way for other female-fronted bands like Nightwish, Theater of Tragedy and Leaves Eyes and also allowed other Doom/Death Doom Metal bands like My Dying Bride and Anathema incorporate the use of female vocalists. Anneke has long left The Gathering, embarking on a rather successful solo career. However, the impact of The Gathering’s Mandylion rings very strong to this day.
Amorphis-Tales From The Thousand Lakes
Now I’m really taking this beyond the points of standard Doom Metal. I promise, this will be the last “crossover” album listed. The unique thing about Amorphis is the complexity of their songwriting. Tales From The Thousand Lakes is based entirely of the Finnish epic, The Kalevala. While this approach (the use of classic literature) is common amongst Scandinavian bands, it was an eye opener to me. It opened me up to other bands of the region and their approach to their songwriting crafts and use of regional instrumentation. Everything about that is found within this album, coupled with some pretty kickass Sabbath-esque riffs to go with it.
Pallbearer-Sorrow And Extinction/Foundations of Burden
Pallbearer has been considered by many as the future of Doom Metal and with two very strong back to back albums, I couldn’t agree more. Pallbear takes the “low and slow” approach and builds upon with lengthy, epic tracks that come to the same levels as progressive rock. If you were to walk through a neverending graveyard, shrouded in mist, with a cool dampness in the air, Pallbearer would provide the soundtrack to that walk. Beneath the melancholy, sorrowful sounds lies an everlasting beauty. Its as if this walk through this maze like graveyards ends with a sunrise in the distant. I know I am getting quite deep here but there really is no other way to describe these albums. Sorrow and Extinction is masked in death and gloom while Foundations of Burden could easily serve as a homage to kings of a glorious time. Despite being the most recent releases on this list, they belong here.
There are probably a dozen more albums I could to this list. However, if I had to be stranded in dark, dank dungeon and was only allowed to listen to Doom Metal, then these would be my choice.s