The story of doom metal in 29 songs
You could spend a very long time telling the story of doom. Literally, you could, given its frequently slow tempos naturally leading to songs of notable length. But also because its history stretches so far back, and splinters into so many different tangents. From the “scary music” idea Sabbath had in 1970, through to bands who took that idea and really ran with it, to funereal dirges and explorations of doom where it feels like you’re on a different planet to Sabbath altogether, doom is a genre as wide as it is long.
Often a truly underground thing full of lost relics and hidden gems, the influence of doom metal stretches far further than its small success stories suggest. Dave Grohl last appeared on the cover of Kerrang! wearing an Obsessed shirt, while James Hetfield proudly sports a Witchfinder General one. Ghost learned valuable skills from fellow Swedes Candlemass. Phil Anselmo is an absolute doom fanatic. And so it goes on.
Here, then, we chart the history of doom through its key songs by its key players. There’s a lot of different sounds, but all share, in some way, a common dark thread. So come, children of the grave, and feel the doom…
1. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
Obviously. Obviously. Even though doom wasn’t a thing at the time – indeed, in the ’70s ‘heavy metal’ was an insult; something lumpen and downfacing – with this opening throw from their self-titled debut, Sabbath can be credited with not only drawing the line in the sand between heavy rock and the newer, more sinister sound of metal, but also defined a shadowy corner of it that would slowly bloom over the next half a century. The bell, the tritone, the trill, the tempo, Satan coming round the bend – it would inspire a thousand doom bands, but none would ever manage to be quite so doom as this. Fifty years on, still nobody does it better.
2. Pagan Altar – Judgement Of The Dead
One thing you will learn from this list: many, many of the bands who would go on to become highly influential cornerstones of doom had to age and mature before finally getting the respect they deserve from a generation after their own, their names often surviving on bootlegs and the enthusiasm of a handful of dyed-in-the-wool doom maniacs. Case in point: Pagan Altar. The title-track from 1981’s Judgement Of The Dead is now rightly heralded as essential, classic doom, but for a good 20 years it was lost to all but the very deepest parts of the underground. That it shines again is fantastic, because Alan Jones’ riffs are towering things of which Tony Iommi would be proud, while their occult lyrics and the fact that singer (and Alan’s father) Terry Jones would be carried onstage in a coffin gave them a genuinely mysterious atmosphere. Not only would this be unearthed and reissued in the 2000s, it would kickstart a reigniting of the band, new music, and legendary status, until the tragic passing of Terry in 2015.
3. Witchfinder General – Witchfinder General
Straight outta Stourbridge, what Witchfinder General brought to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was a sense of an older England, one where witches and magic lurked in every tavern, public executions were a good afternoon out and, um, where you sniffed up speed ‘through a biro case’ (as they sang on the drug-menu that was Free Country). As bands like Motörhead, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden sharpened metal’s edge, ramped up the speed or took it to epic new places, Witchfinder General maintained a Sabbathy groove in the new age, thanks to guitarist Phil Cope, and this signature cut from their essential Death Penalty album perfectly distils their entire vibe in just under four minutes of pure magic.
4. Trouble – The Tempter
The legend goes that during a show with Chicago’s Trouble waaaaay back in the day, Metallica were so envious of guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell’s guitar tones that they snuck onstage and wrote down their amp settings for themselves. Just listen to The Tempter to see why. Their thick bottom end is staggeringly heavy in the intro, but as it suddenly bursts into a fast chug, it’s crisp, crunchy and crystal clear. This mix of slow and speedy helped Trouble gain a foothold in a time when the metal underground was obsessed with tempos, while their Christian lyrics offered a different take, as singer Eric Wagner called upon The Almighty for help. Here lay the groundwork for plenty of acts to follow, with the haunting twin-leads providing food for ripping off to an army of bands. But even if you’re not into doom, The Tempter is a kingly slab of classy, jaw-dropping heavy metal in its own right.
5. Pentagram – All Your Sins
Refer back to Pagan Altar on the ‘doom bands that had to wait a bit for any kind of success to percolate’ thing. Pentagram formed in the early ’70’s, recorded this originally in ’82 (as Death Row) , self-released it in ’84, and eventually got it properly released by Brit label Peaceville (under the title Relentless) in 1993. If you watch the Pentagram movie Last Days Here, it soon becomes apparent that the business end of their operation has always been kind of a shitshow. And that’s before you get to frontman Bobby Liebling’s long, long addiction to smack that’s made him someone you really don’t want to know. But in the history of doom, despite being incredibly hard to get hold of at times, their music is essential (KISS once came to them looking to buy two songs in the ’70s). The fact is, guitarist Victor Griffin simply doesn’t do bad riffs, and this rolling bit of heaviness is a humdinger, filling with Sabbathian dread and take-no-shit muscle.
6. Saint Vitus – Born Too Late
Next to Sabbath, few bands have proven quite so important to doom as Saint Vitus. And as befits the title-track of their third album, they never quite fit in anywhere. The metal crowd ‘say my songs are much too slow’, as singer Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich laments here, while the punk crowds who would see them on tour with Black Flag would ‘talk about my length of hair, and the out of date clothes I wear’. But then his proud declaration that ‘I’ll never be like you’ turns this into a hymn for disenfranchised outsiders, boozers and weirdos everywhere. Eventually. And that’s before we mention Dave Chandler’s enormous, slugging riffs that, like Iommi and Hendrix before him, are deceptively simple in appearance, but all those who copy will never quite manage to get quite right. Among those who got in on the action at the time, seeing the band in DIY punk venues in Virginia as a teen, was one Dave Grohl, who would go on to salute Wino by inviting him to be part of his Probot, alongside Trouble’s Eric Wagner among other underground legends. So, yeah, proper important.
7. Candlemass – Solitude
In a similar fashion to Judas Priest’s British Steel being one of the first records to be heavy metal not by tag or accident, but by full, wholehearted desire to be, it could be argued that Candlemass’ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is perhaps the first doom album on purpose. Saint Vitus, Trouble, Witchfinder General and the rest who came before had the tag applied retrospectively, but here is a line being drawn where influence becomes intent. And with the album’s title, the Swedes created a new form as well: epic doom. Solitude is written from a place of utter misery – each verse ends ‘Please let me die in solitude’, the chorus is a funereal ‘Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust’, while its parent album is dedicated to “hatred, bitterness, pain, depressions, and hangovers” – but its downlifting riffs are pure majesty. Candlemass would go on to further define epic doom on albums like the peerless Nightfall and Ancient Dreams, as well as giving ex-Bathory drummer (and future video director for Madonna, Lady Gaga, Metallica and Beyonce) Jonas Åkerlund his first job directing the video for Bewitched. But even as an opening throw, here they proved that few do doom quite as well as they.
8. The Obsessed – The Way She Fly
Wino is a bit like doom’s answer to Lemmy – a hard, ultra-cool outlaw lifer for whom playing heavy music is just part of the language for communicating with the world. The man was riffing in The Obsessed long before he was asked to sing for Saint Vitus, and having formed as far back as the mid ’70s, they were already knocking on 10 years as a band when they recorded their debut album. Instead of the planned release, it was shelved, and sat in the shadows for six more years before being put out and the band started up again. But already it was legendary in the underground. Just listen to that riff. With a more bluesy, biker feel than Vitus, this high point from that debut was an early indicator that, really, no matter what the guy does, it will be two things: heavy, and very worth hearing. As goes his saying: “If it ain’t heavy, it ain’t shit.”
9. Paradise Lost – Rotting Misery
The line between doom and death metal can seem to some as simply a matter of tempo. But what needs remembering is the intent. As titles go, Rotting Misery from Paradise Lost’s Lost Paradise debut (a name chosen on account of there being an American band also called Paradise Lost, so they could claim they were actually called Lost Paradise in case of any trouble) set out the distinction clearly. It also defined a new subgenre: doom-death. As with all strokes of genius, the door being kicked down here was largely by accident. The unique guitar tones are actually the result of studio naivety, with producer and Peaceville Records boss Hammy recording the guitars straight into the mixing desk and adding distortion after, while Gregor Mackintosh was looking for a sound that made his instrument’s leads sound like a cello. By the time bands started trying to recreate the fetid, morbid atmosphere here, Paradise Lost were already moving on, but the mark Rotting Misery leaves is one that still resonates today.
10. Winter – Goden
Along with Paradise Lost, New York outfit Winter’s only album Into Darkness helped draw a line for doom between the blues of Sabbath and the more traditional metal leanings of bands like Trouble, and somewhere much, much more grim. Named after a song by Bristol punks Amebix, there’s a dirty, gritty, crusty quality to album highlight Goden that brings with it an atmosphere of very urban, modern dread. Sabbath had, of course, sung about the darkness of nuclear war with a straight face, but the vibe here is that such things sound like they’ve already happened and Winter were squatting in a derelict, burnt-out house as they recorded this. One album only, but their stony-faced influence would echo through the equally important (and in some cases, equally short-lived) Disembowelment, Thergothon, Evoken, Morgion and Skepticism.
11. Solitude Aeturnus – Opaque Divinity
Like Candlemass, Texas’ Solitude Aeturnus deal in epicus doomicus metallicus born from a dedication to and love of the genre. And like Candlemass, they are very, very good at their job. It helps that in guitarist John Perez they have someone who truly understands how to write riffs that have both a metallic chug and an atmosphere that stretches off into the far distance, just as it’s a very good thing that singer Robert Lowe (no, not that one) would have made a very good replacement for Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath. That the intro here sounds like monks singing the riff from Sabbath’s signature tune should be some indication as to where the quintet were coming from, and the way the opening riff comes into view is one of doom’s finest reveals. With a keen skill with double-bass drum speed when required, Solitude Aeturnus also, like Trouble, show that doom is not always about the slow, and that these tension-breaking bursts of tempo can be just as important and occasionally necessary as letting things take their time.
12. Cathedral – Picture Of Beauty And Innocence / Commiserating The Celebration
It can’t be overstated how absolutely unfashionable doom was when many of its early classics were made. When Cathedral formed in 1989, the happening sounds of the metal underground were thrash and death metal, with the likes of Morbid Angel, Obituary and Death upping the speed and heaviness from thrashers like Slayer, Metallica and Exodus. Strange, then, that one of the most iconic of all doom bands should be the work of ex-members of Napalm Death (singer Lee Dorrian) and Brit thrashers Acid Reign (guitarist Gaz Jennings). And you’d think they were mad: playing slow wasn’t cool; flares weren’t cool; having a mystical acoustic intro complete with folky flute at the start of your album definitely wasn’t cool.
Yet this is how Cathedral (named after the cathedral in Dorrian’s home city of Coventry, which was destroyed during WW2) caught the ear of the underground as this intro and first song combo opened their staggering Forest Of Equilibrium debut album. Nobody was slower, nobody was heavier or more sinister, nobody sounded like they were making a grave out of music like this, with Gaz’s incredible riffs building an absolute monolith of total doom. The inside of the album, meanwhile, was influential in itself, listing the esoteric doom bands that had influenced them for a new audience to discover, while Lee Dorrian would start Rise Above Records – initially a way of getting a grant off the Thatcher government to start a business, but an enterprise that would go on to release some of the genre’s most important albums in the years to follow. Not least of all the Dark Passages compilation, which was like a doom metal shop window, helping new ears discover bands like Count Raven, Penance, Revelation and Saint Vitus. Unfashionable, maybe, but the ripples made here would last far longer than fads. And, bringing up Dave Grohl again, he invited Lee in on Probot as well, for the excellent Ice Cold Man. Influential, indeed.
13. My Dying Bride – Sear Me
My Dying Bride have done no fewer than three different versions of Sear Me, each with its own individual sound. Of these, it’s the first two, from their 1992 As The Flower Withers debut, and the following year’s Turn Loose The Swans, that we are concerned with here. Almost comedically miserable, each does a fine job of summing up two of the key elements of the Yorkshire band’s sound. The first is a heavy, doomy dirge that typifies the rainy, windswept gloom of the band’s metal edge. The second is almost its negative; a delicate, mournful piece done on piano and violin. Both are equally bleak, and both signpost what My Dying Bride brought to doom’s table: an expertise in both downtrodden metal riffs, and a gentle, cracked beauty and willingness to explore the darkness of music. Along with Paradise Lost and Anathema, the band were one third of the Peaceville Records Big Three of British doom – a very English-sounding strain of metallic sorrow – but here are a pair of excellent examples why My Dying Bride embodied that idea best, sounding like they genuinely spent far more time staring into the void than their contemporaries.
14. Iron Man – Black Night
Unsurprisingly for a band who started as a Sabbath tribute band, Maryland’s Iron Man had a knack with heavy riffs and a rhythm section so mercurial you could fill a thermometer with them. In guitarist Al Morris III, they had a true riff lord, who first saw Black Sabbath in 1974, and whose riffs – a shining example of which appear here on Black Night – really are close to the quality of his hero Tony Iommi’s. Forming in 1981 as Force (whose demos are much sought after among doom maniacs), they eventually morphed into Iron Man, but it would be over a decade before they’d get a proper release here, but it would be worth the wait, as this stuff became properly available for the first time. Tragically, Al passed away in 2018, but in Iron Man’s output he left behind a formidable, brilliant legacy. A truly underrated band, if you don’t know them yet, start here, then continue with everything else.
15. Cathedral – Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)
This cut from Cathedral’s third album The Carnival Bizarre gets them included a second time here because a) we like it and b) the single and video emphatically defined a link between doom and old occult horror flicks that would become even more of a staple in the years that followed. Featuring scenes from 1968 Vincent Price movie Witchfinder General, as well as some truly hilarious Ozzy-styled dancing from Lee Dorrian and lyrical references to fellow witchfinder film Mark Of The Devil, the song’s (admittedly not exactly chart-busting) success shone a light on a well of inspiration that would go on to become an even bigger part of doom’s DNA. And if you haven’t seen either of those films, sort that out immediately.
16. Esoteric – Dominion Of Slaves
Birmingham’s Esoteric were one of the first bands to dabble in what would eventually become funeral doom — a genuinely deep, often incredibly lengthy dive into the abyss where even My Dying Bride looked like a laugh by comparison. But they didn’t just push the envelope of taking things lower, slower and grimmer. On their excellent 1997 double album The Pernicious Enigma, Esoteric also mastered the addition of psychedelic elements and almost cosmic strangeness to the mix, which, on the 16-minute Dominion Of Slaves, as a stand-out example, gave the impression of being truly sucked in to another realm. If much of doom at the time was being bracketed with stoner rock as decent music to get baked to, here was something more like an intense acid trip while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some puzzled at the line “Fuck you, Esoteric” in the sleeve notes to Electric Wizard’s Come, My Fanatics…, but those who checked them out from it would find something even more nightmarish than even the Wizard could conjure up.
17. Burning Witch – Sacred Predictions
Seattle’s Burning Witch were heavier than pretty much anyone else on Earth in their time. This should not have come as a surprise; the band were formed of the ashes of short-lived cult band Thorr’s Hammer, guitarist Greg Anderson would go on to form Goatsnake, fellow axeman Stephen O’Malley would himself form Khanate, and the pair would later reunite as everyone’s favourite experiment in just how much droning volume the human head can take, Sunn O))). In fact, even losing Anderson before they could go in to record this still left them by some way heavier than anyone else on the block, a situation not exactly hindered by working with Nirvana producer and studio noise terrorist par excellence Steve Albini. You can almost feel the currents rubbing through your speakers as the riffs sluice through them, getting a real sense of just how stupidly loud they were playing when Albini hit ‘record’, so that even at low volume there’s an almost deafening quality to it. The band split before it could see a proper release, but this, on top of the hard-to-find-for-years nature of the eventual compilation release Crippled Lucifer, only added to their mystique.
18. Electric Wizard – Funeralopolis
Realistically, back in 2000 you wouldn’t have put money on Electric Wizard still being an ongoing concern in the year 2020, even in somewhat different clothes. Half the time they’d get beyond stoned and jam out their songs forever at gigs. The other half they just wouldn’t bother turning up. Three years previously, they’d set a new benchmark for heaviness with their ungodly Come My Fanatics… sophomore album, and established themselves as masters of a sleazy, grimy underbelly of doom through filthy production, dedication to weed, and a self-confessed bad attitude. “At the time, we were pretty bad people,” frontman Jus Oborn told Kerrang! later on the making of third album, Dopethrone. “I got arrested for arson of a car outside a police station. Tim [Bagshaw, bass] went to nick a crucifix off a church roof so we could use it onstage, then slipped, fell off through the window and sliced his arm open. He got community service for that. Then Mark [Greening, drums] got nicked for robbing an offie. He smashed the window, nicked a bottle of whiskey, then sat there drinking it outside! We weren’t very nice people, to be honest. We were feeding off that shit at the time. It made us feel like we were more of a heavy metal band.” Fittingly, the tagline on the inside of Dopethrone proudly reads: “Legalise drugs and murder.”
In Funeralopolis, you can hear all of this. Searching for oblivion, rather than the blissed-out good times of the then-current stoner boom, the psychedelic intake was a purposeful bad trip, and the song’s hateful lyrics and nasty riffs are both mighty and repellant. As it reaches its crescendo in the faster second half and Jus repeats ‘Nuclear warheads, ready to strike / The world is so fucked, let’s end it tonight,’ it’s a testament to the power of misanthropy just how spectacular it can be when harnessed by people who really mean it. Ironically, it only made people love Electric Wizard even more.
19. Reverend Bizarre – Burn In Hell!
Roughly around the turn of the century, doom had become increasingly lumped in with stoner rock. As bands like Fu Manchu and Kyuss influenced a wave of bands with ’70s groove but nothing particularly doomy about them, and the term was also being applied to sludge bands, grunge bands, and basically anything with heavy, slow guitar, a resistance began from the underground: The Circle Of True Doom. Featuring Solstice, The Gates Of Slumber, While Heaven Wept and Earthride among other puritans, there was a focus on upholding the sounds, spirit and underground ethics of old. And the band who embodied this vision to a greater degree than any other were Finland’s Reverend Bizarre.
As the stately opener to their peerless, 5K-rated In The Rectory Of The Bizarre Reverend debut, Burn In Hell! is almost like a tribute to doom metal itself, worshipping the form at the same time as it shows just how magnificent it can be. But far from being a generic stew of influences, or a pastiche, there was also a feeling of a new dawn when this came out – a line being drawn. Here, it seemed to say, is how things should be, and it is pure. Sadly, the band split in 2007 (having, amusingly, scored a Number One hit in Finland with the 16 minute-long single Teutonic Witch), and frontman Albert Witchfinder refuses to even countenance the idea of a reunion. And while his bands The Puritan and Opium Warlords, as well as handling vocals for Spiritus Mortis, are excellent, as are guitarist Peter Vicar’s Lord Vicar, there’s a very specific kind of magic here that comes along rarely, and is almost impossible to repeat.
20. Sunn O))) – It Took The Night To Believe
Some people thought Sunn O)))’s first show in the UK, supporting Orange Goblin at London’s Underworld in 2000, was a soundcheck. No drums, no real riffs to speak of, just two dudes who used to be in Burning Witch letting low, low, low-tuned bass notes resonate for days. But Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson were also on to something. By the time they made it to fifth album Black One they were no longer a curio, but a genuinely unique look at just what could be done by taking heaviness to its logical conclusion. They’d expanded to include various electronic elements among the literal walls of amps and, as on It Took The Night To Believe, vocals. But even this was an exercise in going further down the rabbit hole, featuring a black metal riff and U.S. black metal loner Wrest of Leviathan making… sounds to add to the sonic curtain. If you want to see what’s beyond the void, Sunn O))) were facing the right direction here.
21. The Gates Of Slumber – Suffer No Guilt
In a time when traditional doom – indeed, most doom – was all but dead in the U.S., it was a truly wonderful thing when Indianapolis trio The Gates Of Slumber first rumbled forth, fuelling their fire with an obsession with Vitus, Robert E. Howard, and the proper way of doing this stuff without any mucking about. This title-track from their brilliant second album is a work of Vitus-worshipping brilliance and heavy metal muscle, stretched out to truly show what the band could do. Karl Simon’s opening riff is one to listen to for days on its own, while the lyrics are like a solemn intonation from a Conan movie. And this was only the beginning of the great works that Gates would add to doom’s already rich tapestry, as their line continued with the excellent Conqueror and Hymns Of Blood And Thunder albums. Tragically, bassist Jason McCash passed away in 2014, but Karl went on to form the excellent Wretch, and in 2020 did a European tour under the Gates flag – a moment to celebrate a truly special band.
22. Ahab – Below The Sun
Funeral doom’s lengthy songs and cinematic atmospheres hadn’t really been tapped as potential for a concept album in its earliest days. But here come Germany’s Ahab moving into view, with a record of ‘Nautik Funeral Doom’ based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Concentrating less on oblivion and misery, Below The Sun instead deals in the powerful sense of dread in the book, the loneliness of countless days staring at an iron grey sea, the vastness of the absolute nothingness in every direction. In some ways, there’s a levity to the idea that showed you can have very, very good without necessarily having to delve into someone else’s pain and misery (well, Captain Ahab’s madness, but you get the point). This doesn’t make Below The Sun any less haunting, heavy or doomy, mind.
23. Warning – Footprints
In any genre, there are few albums with such sadness sat on its shoulders as Warning’s Watching From A Distance. Frontman Patrick Walker’s vocals are haunting, while the guitars on their own are like a dam of tears bursting, without any of the sarcasm or knowing buzzkilling of professional miserablists like My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost. But in making a virtue of the well of despair from which it’s been drawn, Footprints actually becomes a remarkably powerful song. Having existed in the underground since the mid ’90s, its parent album became an instant doom classic, and the band found themselves in demand, oddly often appearing at Scandinavian black metal fests with bands with whom they had no visible common ground, but were received equally wholeheartedly. Sadly, they would split, with Patrick going on to form 40 Watt Sun, but Footprints remains a truly staggering display of just how emotional metal can be.
24. Procession – The Road To The Gravegarden
Even Procession’s demo, 2008’s Burn cassette, saw them being rightly hailed as masters of their art. The Chilean trio, as they were then before moving to Sweden and expanding to a quartet later, were quite simply the sort of experts in this stuff that only comes from true fanaticism. Frontman Felipe Plaza Kutzbach is not only one of the greatest doom guitarists and riff writers the genre’s ever seen, he’s also its finest modern singer, somewhere between Candlemass’ Messiah Marcollin and Ronnie James Dio. Indeed, so superb is his voice that he’s also been called on to sing for Solstice and Russian doom cult Scald on their recent reunion shows, in the spot of late singer Maxim Andrianov. This cut from the demo – later rerecorded on their Destroyers Of The Faith album – is everything pure about doom distilled further by people truly devoted to it, and gloriously played out with an enormous chorus where Felipe’s shout to the ‘Crawling disciples of doom’ raises the same sorts of hairs as Vitus’ Born Too Late or Candlemass’ Solitude. Even on a demo tape, it’s possible to hear greatness as it happens, and Procession stand today as one of the finest true doom bands of their own time or any other.
25. Electric Wizard – Witchcult Today
Like Hawkwind, Electric Wizard’s long tenure and shifting line-ups have brought with them identifiably different phases, and no chapter change has been more clear than on 2007’s Witchcult Today. The drugs, misanthropy and black magic were all as present and correct as ever, but there was something more alluring about the way they went about it all here. It was the difference between the screaming violence of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the more psychological abuse of occult movies like The Devil Rides Out. The album’s opening title-track was the perfect way to herald this new tack, with Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham’s guitars fuzzing their way through a superbly warm production courtesy of analogue recording genius Liam Watson (who also captured The White Stripes’ old-school vibes perfectly). A new wave of occult doom bands would follow, but the Wizard would still effortless maintain their position of masters of ceremonies.
26. Pilgrim – Astaroth
The arrival of Pilgrim in 2012 with their 5K-rated Misery Wizard debut was a reason to be very cheerful indeed. Here was a new, young band proudly picking up the torch of true doom and doing a spectacular job of keeping the traditions of the genre front and centre of their operation. Like Reverend Bizarre before them, on Astaroth Pilgrim made it all sound so simple; the right tempo, unfussy riffs, a feeling of worshipping the old doom gods without just ripping them off. But therein lies the genius – you’ve either got weathered, woody doom in you or you haven’t. Pilgrim very much did, and Astorath in particular is a glorious sermon from the church of true doom. Tragically, frontman Jon Rossi passed away in 2017, aged just 26. While he lived, though, he created a pure cult classic here.
27. Pallbearer – Devoid Of Redemption
In the same year Pilgrim first appeared, there was a similar excitement around Pallbearer. But where Pilgrim were celebrated for upholding tradition, Pallbearer were marked out by a more progressive bent, while also keeping the doom firmly boiling away. With shades of bands like Mastodon and Baroness in their sound, there was something more modern about them as well. On Devoid Of Redemption, this is all borne out spectacularly, and helped to quickly establish the Arkansas quartet as something special. Only the following year, they would be invited to do two sets at The Netherlands’ prestigious Roadburn Festival, an occasion that confirmed that the love the band had quickly gathered was entirely deserved.
28. Windhand – Orchard
Windhand are like a mystical doomy dream. Occupying a similar place to later Electric Wizard, the Virginia quartet have a magic quality all of their own, thanks to their expertise in addictive two-note grooves and the exceptional vocals of Dorthia Cottrell. Their second album, Soma, saw them becoming something of a cult in their own right, and Orchard is a particularly juicy slab of fuzz that shows exactly why – with catchy simplicity, it transports you into a musky world and gets under your skin without really trying.
29. YOB – Marrow
YOB typify many elements of the post-millennial wave of American doom: heavy, slightly funereal, a bit proggy, at times aggressive, at others beautiful, while having a very weathered, salty element to what they do. Frontman Mike Scheidt looks like he could mend your car no problem; he also overflows with emotion on Marrow. Already known for all this anyway, this closing track from 2014’s stunning Clearing The Path To Ascend album stands tall in their mighty canon by a factor of 10. That it does all this while still sounding like three people in a room playing music only adds to its charm. At almost 20 minutes, on paper it looks like an endurance test. Frankly, this is the minimum amount of time Marrow needs to properly stand up and display its glory.
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