Doom Metal: The Gentle Art of Making Misery
by: Pedro Azevedo
About This Article

In trying to assemble my thoughts on doom metal and shape the result roughly as a guide, I had to touch upon the genre's history, definition and categories. However, please keep the following in mind: this is not meant to cover every last band and event in doom metal history; the influence I indicate certain bands or styles may have had on other bands or styles is simply deductive rather than factual; this article does not aim to unambiguously define doom metal or rigidly categorise its bands; and my own analysis of some of the psychology behind doom metal is entirely based on experience, rather than any formal knowledge of said science.

Since this article focuses on doom metal, I couldn't resist writing this negative introductory paragraph -- something along the lines of a tired old "abandon all hope, ye who enter here". Indeed, in collecting these thoughts I have only tried to combine my experience in doom metal (which is of course influenced by personal taste) with some reflection and a bit of historical information. Hopefully it will help some of you discover a rich new genre, further explore some of its more secluded areas or just ponder on its peculiarities. While writing this I've had to go back to old records I hadn't played in years, as well as look into bands and subgenres I knew less about; and that turned out to be a reward in itself. Thanks to everyone who helped in any way.

What and Why

Doom metal is a style of heavy or extreme metal music most safely characterized by its depressiveness, which can be conveyed in a number of ways: while the music is often slow and minimalist, it can be extremely heavy and ugly as well as more melodic and sorrowful. This is about as close to a generic definition as I'm willing to go for the benefit of newbies -- anyone with a reasonable grasp of the genre surely understands the inherent variety caused by the more avantgarde bands as well as various partial fusions with other genres. One can just as easily find a slow doom/death album as a melodic, clean sung one; a somewhat noise-based, much less melodic approach is not uncommon, and a mix of black and doom metal is not unheard of either.

Given these first few lines about what doom metal sounds like, I was initially going to write an introduction describing how I first encountered doom metal many moons ago, and how the music has affected my life and so on; but I won't, because none of you would care. No, not a single one of you cold-hearted people would give a damn. So I'll just go sit alone in my corner, thinking about life and the state of this bleak world and listening to some doom metal -- and you can write this damn article yourselves if you want.

Joking aside, the paragraph above tries to illustrate what I think truly separates doom from every other metal genre: when done right, it is by far the most personal, introspective and individual of them all. With this I don't mean to raise doom above other genres, or call it more profound or distinctive than the others. All I mean by this is that people can headbang and fist-pump together to death or thrash metal, they can try black magic and pull grim faces together with black metal, they can air-guitar and croon together to heavy or progressive metal... but a good doom metal album is something you take along when you want to be by yourself, when you need some isolation. While this can also be achieved with other genres and entirely depends on the taste of each individual, I think that contrary to other genres, this is what doom metal was truly created for. Or in the context of the less serious kind of treatment I just gave the other genres, doom metal is made for those beings that are overly sensitive and depressed, and aren't doing anything about it.

This last isn't necessarily any more or less useful an outlet than any of the other stereotyped behaviours I described above. When one is feeling low, help can come from a large variety of sources: adrenaline-pumping aggression, misanthropic spite and soaring melodies are just a few possibilities. So why am I separating doom metal from the pack here? Because it is arguably the only metal genre that actively provides a source of depression for the listener. And nobody wants that when they're feeling great, so why would anyone want it when they're in the mire, right? Well, wrong, at least judging by the fact that doom metal keeps selling records and has done so reasonably constantly while bigger selling metal genres kept going around in rollercoaster rides of popularity.

Doom metal is very unlikely to ever truly become the flavour of the day, but what hampers its growth to a global scale is precisely what keeps it alive: it doesn't try to sell itself; it doesn't try to offer you what you want, it offers you what it -is-. Of course it would be deeply naïve to believe doom to be the one pure, uncommercial genre in the middle of a bunch of sell-outs; with neither extreme being true, the reasoning behind that conclusion stems from what I wrote about providing directly uplifting and reinvigorating music that people want to hear (even in the case of black metal at its core) versus providing a further dampener to their spirits, such as doom metal does.

In the interestingly-named LifePositive.com website, one of the suggested solutions to help one "come out of the blues" was to "accept the mood, enter into it fully by listening to sad music and gradually change it to light, pleasant tunes". (They also suggest that you should "lock yourself in a room and laugh loudly for half an hour", but I won't go into that sort of discussion.) On the Mental Health Info website at MindInfo.co.uk, it is flatly stated that "sometimes if you're feeling low, it's tempting to play slow sad music, but this will make you feel worse. An uplifting tune or cheerful song can instantly improve your energy levels and your emotional well being."

So if these websites are right, then how do you sell misery to people? Well, I won't try to make any general statements like the last one above, but I can safely state from personal experience that not everyone is negatively affected by sad music, and not everyone's spirits improve by way of music that is supposed to be directly uplifting in nature. The way to go for those must therefore be a bit more winding and narrow, through a wretched path that may -- or may not -- lead to a better place. In other, less dramatic words, this is usually either through doom metal or the darkest shades of the genres mentioned before. And while for some people doom metal is strangely uplifting, for others the arguably unparalleled torrent of emotion -- melodically or crushingly conveyed -- that can pour from it is enjoyable even on a good day, rather than depressive as it might be for the majority.

There may be an interesting parallel to be drawn between this situation and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD, according to the NOSAD.com website, "is a type of winter depression which affects millions of people (...), caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight". The article also devotes a whole sentence to briefly explain that "in summer SAD, symptoms may be related to excessive heat rather than light". While some people may not be affected at all, most are expected to fell some lowering of spirits during the Winter months, even if only slightly; those who actually like those dreary months -better- than the happy seasons can be expected to be a tiny minority. Similarly, I have little doubt that the minority of people who will truly enjoy doom metal will also prefer the colors of Autumn to those of Summer, grey clouds to bright sun. Whether or not this would be due to the aforementioned biological reasons is beyond me, but perhaps the rationale behind the seasonal and musical situations isn't very different.

Bjørn Grinde, in an article published in the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy (online version at www.hisf.no/njmt), discusses music in which "particular passages can generate the intense pleasurable experience described as a chill, a thrill, or a shiver". It may come as a surprise, but according to the article, "research suggests that chills are evoked more often by sad music than by happy music". "At least in Western culture, sadness is thought of as a negative feeling, yet we flock to movies known to make us cry. Both visual art and music offer us the possibility of taking gratification from sorrow without having to undergo the bereavement that normally precedes this feeling."

I happened to finish reading Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" during the writing of this article. In this book, the author portrays a world where humans are distinguished from highly developed androids by the former's capacity for empathy, which the latter lack. Humans devoted to Mercerism frequently used a device called an empathy box, which allowed them to empathise with each other in their struggle to ascend an interminable hill infested by invisible enemies. From this perspective, the doom metal album may be some listeners' empathy box -- they all share their successes and failures in that doomed ascent, and empathy makes the whole stronger. For some people, perhaps empathy with the feelings being eloquently portrayed on a doom metal album can provide a more uplifting and enjoyable experience than other genres.

Whichever way you look at it, there is a certain uniqueness to doom metal. This doesn't imply that other genres lack their own unique characteristics; but I personally find the idiosyncrasies of doom metal to be the most endearing of all metal genres.

Who, Where and When

Most people point to the early work of Black Sabbath (England), during the first half of the '70s, as the starting point for doom metal. Indeed their self-titled debut (1970) marked the beginning of a series of albums that would become fundamental for heavy metal and doom in particular, due to their dark and brooding nature, which was unlike anything else at the time. Revolutionary and unique, these albums would pave the way for others like Pentagram, Trouble and Saint Vitus (all from the USA) to make their mark in the '80s.

These bands would remain active well into the '90s, much like Candlemass (Sweden), who decisively helped shape "doom metal" with their landmark _Epicus Doomicus Metallicus_ (1986) -- an album that brought a sense of the classical to doom for the first time, coupled with emotional vocals and strong, tortured riffs. Candlemass would finish the decade strongly with new vocalist Messiah Marcolin and albums such as 1987's _Nightfall_, and they would enter the '90s as possibly the biggest doom metal band in existence.

Doom metal became an established genre, and from the early '90s onwards it started to branch out in a number of directions -- to the extent that the first few years of that decade, perhaps as far as its midpoint, were fundamental in shaping the vast landscape of what doom metal is today. The '70s and '80s saw the establishment of a base for the genre, while the '90s witnessed the growth of a number of separate branches of doom metal and its crossover with other genres, greatly expanding its sonic and emotional spectrum.

As the '90s started, the classic doom metal branch kept going -- bands including Solitude Aeturnus, Penance, While Heaven Wept (all from the USA) and Solstice (England) deserve to be mentioned as some of its leading forces throughout the decade. The aforementioned Trouble, Saint Vitus and Candlemass also continued to produce albums and remained as heavyweights in the genre.

To this date the United States continue to be arguably the most fertile ground for this original version of the doom metal genre, as well as for sludge and stoner doom outfits -- less melodic than the European doom styles, examples can be found in Crowbar and Sleep's ponderous music respectively. The Sabbath influence can also be found in other heavily distorted and more primitive works, such as those of Khanate (USA), Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine (USA/UK), Iron Monkey (UK) and Church of Misery (Japan). Do not expect any poetic reflections or finesse here; it's all as ugly and bleak as they perceive this world to be.

England was the first to produce extremely slow and distorted derivations of doom, however, with the early works of Cathedral becoming instrumental for the busy decade that was just beginning when they released _In Memoriam_ (1990) and _Forest of Equilibrium_ (1991). Though greatly influenced by the '80's major doom acts, these albums also contained an element of death metal: vocalist Lee Dorrian's (ex-Napalm Death) death-like vocals were one of Cathedral's distinguishing characteristics at this stage.

Meanwhile, also in England, the early works of the Peaceville trio of British doom saw the bleak light of day: Paradise Lost with _Gothic_ (1991) and _Shades of God_ (1992); My Dying Bride with their _Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium_ EP (1991) and _As the Flower Withers_ (1992); and Anathema with their _Crestfallen_ EP (1992) and _Serenades_ (1993). In this initial stage of their careers, these bands also focused on a fusion of doom and death metal, with a variable amount of usually heartbreaking melody and anguish thrown in. Great amounts of these elements were used in the case of My Dying Bride and Anathema, who became pioneers in the inclusion of darkly romantic elements in their brand of doom metal. A considerable dose of classical art, which had previously been used only occasionally, started to make its way into doom metal much more frequently at this stage, becoming a prevalent feature of some of its subgenres.

These three bands have since followed very distinct paths. Paradise Lost, formerly a straightforward death metal band on their debut album, dropped the death metal side of their doom/death and injected some heavy metal into their sound for a few albums. They then left doom metal and veered strongly towards a more commercial approach. My Dying Bride famously incorporated a violin and piano player into the band as well as some clean vocals, creating landmark doom albums in the mid-'90s such as _Turn Loose the Swans_ (1993) and the clean-sung _The Angel and the Dark River_ (1995). My Dying Bride are quite possibly the most successful doom metal band still active today. As for Anathema, they too made the change to clean vocals, although in their case this was a complete departure from death vox; their sound became lighter and presently features a considerable Pink Floyd influence.

The early work of the aforementioned doom/death bands paved the way for several others to follow, including the lovelorn Celestial Season (Holland), Novembers Doom (USA), Mourning Beloveth (Ireland), Saturnus (Denmark), Desire (Portugal), Paramaecium (Australia) and Lacrimas Profundere (Germany). Indeed the first half of the '90s saw some feverish activity in this darkly romantic subgenre, which eventually led to a trend of duelling death and female vox, as typified by Theatre of Tragedy (Norway) with their self-titled debut (1995). This album helped spawn a large number of sugarcoated doom metal acts that popped up within a relatively short time of each other, temporarily drowning out pioneers such as The 3rd and the Mortal (Norway) and The Gathering (Holland), who had practically created female-led doom metal with the Norwegians' _Tears Laid in Earth_ (1995) and the Dutch band's _Mandylion_ (1995) -- records that have nevertheless withstood the test of time.

As if to further illustrate the multiple faces of doom metal, another one of the most influential '90s bands followed a somewhat different set of rules. Like Candlemass, they hailed from Sweden; but the desperately sad melodies and agonizing shrieks of 1993's _Dance of December Souls_ set Katatonia apart from its peers. An intense and spontaneous album, _Dance of December Souls_ showed a different way to approach depressive, doomy metal, and Katatonia were not about to conform to any standards: 1996's bleak _Brave Murder Day_ proved just that, with the band developing their riffing style and again creating a different -- but very doomy -- record. Katatonia have since moved on to a more ear-friendly, song-oriented (though still emotional) approach, and have continuously been an influence to several bands throughout their career -- their first couple of albums likely had considerable influence on bands such as Empyrium (Germany) and Rapture (Finland).

But the birth of doom/death in the early '90s also helped enable some more extreme branches to develop. Perhaps the most important of these is the mid-'90s funeral doom of bands such as one-album wonders Thergothon, the somewhat more prolific Skepticism, Unholy and lately Shape of Despair (all four from Finland), as well as Esoteric (England). While shedding most or all of British doom's romantic elements, these bands have taken the atmospheric side of the genre to new levels: the music is usually extremely slow, bass-heavy and repetitive, sometimes nearly to the point of becoming hypnotic. Depending on the band, one can also find elements such as church organ, violin, ambient touches and mostly secondary female vocals. While some, like the aforementioned quintet, took a turn for funeral doom, others such as Evoken and Morgion (both from the USA) worked instead on an extreme side of doom/death -- the latter have moved into more tranquil territory recently, with Evoken emerging as the leading force in their style.

Tangentially, a grey area begun to develop where different kinds of black and doom metal elements touched. What I call black/doom (also known as "suicidal black metal") is characterized by black metal sound fused with doom metal feeling and a mix of both genres' aesthetics. Compared to doom/death, there is usually relatively little musical input from doom metal, although there are some exceptions. More importantly, black metal's traditional fury and aggression are partially or even entirely replaced by a more pensive or despairing -- even suicidal -- mood that is more akin to doom metal than to the work of the originators of black metal back in the '80s.

One of the most notable examples can be found in black metal's own Burzum (Norway). The track "Det Som En Gang Var" (1994) was built from their raw black metal, but mixed with droning, repetitive, bleak atmospheric qualities and a certain sense of despair; this all gave it a different feeling from what black metal was (and still is) renowned for. 1996's _Filosofem_ would prove that "Det Som En Gang Var" wasn't simply a one-off experiment, as most of the album (all of its metal tracks except the more uptempo "Jesus' Tod") shared that song's characteristics to a considerable extent -- in fact, the music was often slower and at least equally doomy. _Filosofem_ remains as one of the prime examples of its kind, and while Burzum's departure from all things metal following that album is well documented, so is the influence that their old albums have had on other bands.

A few more names rose in the mid-'90s to develop the black/doom metal crossover: the suicidal Bethlehem (Germany) with a three-album series that began with 1994's _Dark Metal_; the more epic and melodic In the Woods... (Norway) with 1995's _HEart of the Ages_ (they then dropped the black metal component); and the gothic derangement of Deinonychus (Holland), who released a series of albums that begun with 1995's _The Silence of December_. This black/doom crossover, or grey area, is presently developing rapidly, with bands including Nortt (Denmark), Shining (Sweden), Forgotten Tomb (Italy), Xasthur and Leviathan (both from the USA) rising to the forefront. Strictly speaking, most of these bands cannot be said to play doom metal (their style is usually described as "suicidal black metal") or anything that sounds much like it, and as such won't be mentioned in the fundamental album list below; but the feeling they all share to some extent certainly makes them relevant to anyone exploring the doom metal genre.

Never the most fashionable of genres, doom metal nonetheless enjoys a considerable number of dedicated followers. Looking to the future, one should perhaps consider the past first: it doesn't take much of a visionary to realize that doom metal will probably never be a hugely popular genre, but even that will remain as another one of its endearing qualities.

A Selection of Fundamental Doom Metal Albums

The following is a personal selection of brief reviews of albums you might do well to procure should you want to (further) investigate what this genre is all about. Although I tried to keep this collection varied, some subgenres may be missing. Above all, my aim here was to provide a good representation of the various aspects of doom metal, all quality albums, and if possible of some historical interest -- the latter not having been an overriding criteria, as there are only two pre-'90s albums in the list. There is only one album reviewed per band; as such, some albums might have had a right to their own entry based purely on their quality, but ended up simply mentioned under a somehow more relevant release from the same band.

Black Sabbath - _Black Sabbath_ (Warner, 1970)

Here is where it all started, and I can only imagine the impact that the eponymous album opener must have had following all the musical happiness of the '60s. I'm not about to write the umpteenth _Black Sabbath_ review ever -- so suffice to say that the massive black cloud that this album must have placed over unsuspecting heads all over the world is something that no other band may ever be able to repeat to the same extent, such was the change of spirit it signified within the musical world.

Candlemass - _Epicus Doomicus Metallicus_ (Black Dragon, 1986)

Album opener "Solitude", with its desperate lyrics and vocals and unforgettable guitar line, remains one of the best known doom metal songs ever. It also marked the beginning of Candlemass's hugely influential career, which would be continued especially during the following three albums -- which featured the renowned Messiah Marcolin in place of _Epicus Doomicus Metallicus_ vocalist Johan Lanquist. One of the most influential albums in forming doom metal, _Epicus Doomicus Metallicus_ combines much of what would become genre trademarks in the years to come, including the characteristic drumming style and the ponderous but melodic guitar work. Candlemass were also responsible for bringing classical elements into doom metal in a number of ways, something that again would be vastly influential in the following decade. In stark contrast with all the heavy metal frenzy of its time, _EDM_ showed different musical objectives and quietly but decisively helped carve a path for doom metal against all trends.

Cathedral - _Forest of Equilibrium_ (Earache, 1991)

One can never know for sure, but I would hazard a guess that Cathedral's miserable mixture of death and traditional doom metal on _Forest of Equilibrium_ had considerable influence in the development of British doom -- which bands such as My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost cemented as one of the major doom metal movements during the '90s. You probably wouldn't tell by the album opener, but second track "Ebony Tears" should wipe away all doubt. Vocalist Lee Dorrian, formerly of Napalm Death fame, brought tortured, half-sung death vox to the deeply depressed doom metal sound he created with fellow founder Mark Griffiths. At a time when death metal was on the rise, and bands like Paradise Lost still dabbled with said genre, _Forest of Equilibrium_ helped sow the seeds for doom/death as we know it today.

Paradise Lost - _Gothic_ (Peaceville, 1991)

Paradise Lost were the ones who first fully utilized orchestral elements in their doom metal sound, namely on their second album, 1991's _Gothic_. Orchestral bombast and sumptuous female choirs were added to their doom/death metal, creating a mix previously unheard of -- not only did they tread new paths with their mixture of doom and death metal (carried from their 1990 death metal debut _Lost Paradise_), they also added a massive new symphonic element. Although a relatively brief album and the only one of its kind in PL's discography, _Gothic_ remains a landmark of great vision and influence in the doom metal scene -- not to mention some damn good music.

Katatonia - _Dance of December Souls_ (No Fashion, 1993)

How a band as young as Katatonia were when they recorded _Dance of December Souls_ could produce a record as affecting as this I won't try to fathom; but this was an album that could sink its velvet thorns into one's heart and leave an indelible mark. _Dance of December Souls_ condensed an immeasurable sorrow in its music; be it the melodies, the despairing vocals or the curiously spontaneous drumming, somehow its arguably disparate elements formed a classic album that not many people will remain indifferent to -- most likely either they'll love it or hate it. After the _For Funerals to Come..._ EP, Katatonia released _Brave Murder Day_ (1996) with Opeth vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt; this bleak, less dramatic album also remains a classic in its own right. Katatonia have since opted for clean vocals and chorus-oriented song structures, in a nearly complete departure from their days of old that only retains some of the original feeling -- and from that period, _Last Fair Deal Gone Down_ (2001) is also a mandatory album.

My Dying Bride - _Turn Loose the Swans_ (Peaceville, 1993)

From personal experience, if a worldwide poll was conducted to determine the popular opinion on which was the best doom metal album of the '90s, _Turn Loose the Swans_ would be my pick as most likely winner (not to mention my own choice). While its predecessor, My Dying Bride's full-length debut _As the Flower Withers_, may have been a fundamental step in getting here, _Turn Loose the Swans_ was the real crowning achievement in this darkly romantic doom/death genre. The riffing is simply monstrous, the violin and keyboard unique at the time and to this date unrivalled in its brilliant integration with the music. Intelligent drumming and a superb mix of raw, tortured clean singing and mighty death vox complete this collection of lengthy songs that never cease to amaze even after all these years. MDB would temporarily abandon death vocals to create its successor _The Angel and the Dark River_ (1995), a landmark in its own right; lately _The Dreadful Hours_ (2001) and the live album _The Voice of the Wretched_ (2002) also constitute outstanding additions to MDB's lengthy discography.

The 3rd and the Mortal - _Tears Laid in Earth_ (Voices of Wonder, 1995)

This was the first, and also one of the few real doom metal albums with female vocals. It was released at a time when the girl 'n' grunt acts of the mid-to-late '90s had yet to be devised -- though that was soon to happen, and would become a popular subgenre for the next few years thanks to the likes of Theatre of Tragedy. Lengthy, atmospheric and solemn, this successor to the equally outstanding _Sorrow_ EP (1994) is a delicate album; not one that falls for the easy melody, the frequent chorus, or what would become the trendy goth influences. The emotional, angelic vocals of Kari Rueslatten became virtually legendary in the second half of the '90s (she was replaced by Ann-Mari Edvardsen immediately after this album), while the doomy, dreamy guitar lines (both electric and acoustic) helped shape the music into something of a gem. With their new vocalist, The 3rd and the Mortal departed the doom metal genre, and while still active to this day, they now appeal to a mostly different audience.

Anathema - _The Silent Enigma_ (Peaceville, 1995)

_The Silent Enigma_'s predecessor _Serenades_ (1993) and successor _Eternity_ (1996) also rank as two of my favourite doom metal albums ever, and remain fundamental in their own right. The lovelorn dirges of _Serenades_, led by singer Darren White, and the similarly emotional but somewhat Pink Floydian _Eternity_, where current singer Vincent Cavanagh first explored his clean vocals, deserve a place in any doom metal collection. Yet _The Silent Enigma_ is perhaps Anathema's most distinctive accomplishment, in the sense that it captures Anathema at a point where their music was not only incredibly emotional, but also delivered with great intensity. This doesn't mean the mellower efforts that followed are less worthy, but there is no escaping the classic status of songs like "The Silent Enigma", "Shroud of Frost" or album closer "A Dying Wish". While showing the band in the middle of a massive transition, _The Silent Enigma_ is a hugely inspired album, with a superb combination of atmosphere, emotion and riffs.

Skepticism - _Lead and Aether_ (Red Stream, 1998)

Before Skepticism could unleash their debut _Stormcrowfleet_ in 1995, Thergothon released their only album, _Streams From the Heavens_, in 1994 -- both following each band's early '90s demos. These two releases, though underproduced by today's standards, would set many of the defining characteristics of the funeral doom subgenre. However, it wasn't until 1998 that Skepticism released their second album, _Lead and Aether_, and for the first time fully realized the potential of this subgenre -- one that is sometimes confused with the more extreme side of doom/death purveyed by bands such as Evoken. Crawling pace, downtuned guitars, ponderous drumming, church organs and cavernous death vox formed the backbone of this album, which has the sort of ethereal ambient quality that helps separate funeral doom from doom/death. Music this extreme definitely isn't for everyone; and while this statement might also apply to much of what's being reviewed here, it is at its most certain in funeral doom. For most people this is just boring and repetitive, but for connoisseurs, its barren, hypnotic soundscapes provide a precious desert to lose themselves in. Currently funeral doom is quite active, though always in a relatively underground sense compared to some other subgenres; Skepticism themselves have only recently released another landmark album, 2003's _Farmakon_, which is about as fundamental as _Lead and Aether_.

Sleep - _Jerusalem_ (Dream Catcher, 1999)

While European bands seem more inclined for melodic elements, emotional touches and other embellishments, others such as Sleep, from the USA, opt for a stripped-down approach that entails distortion, snail-like pace, massive soundwaves, and a lethargy that pins you to the ground like you're experiencing tenfold gravity. There's nowhere to hold on to -- everything is barren and bereft of life. _Jerusalem_ is comprised of only one track, over one hour of dope-ridden sludge doom; it follows Sleep's early '90s couple of albums and represents this particular subgenre like no other I've heard.

Evoken - _Quietus_ (Avantgarde, 2001)

Somewhere between doom/death and funeral doom lie Evoken, creating a monstrous sonic force that constitutes one of the main exponents of present day doom metal. While not necessarily pioneers, Evoken have been part of the doom metal since the mid-'90s, and had already impressed with 1998's _Embrace the Emptiness_. _Quietus_ is the most recent doom metal album I have picked for this list, and indeed I regard it as the best example of the genre to have been released since anywhere near the turn of the millennium -- much as others like My Dying Bride's _The Dreadful Hours_, Shape of Despair's _Angels of Distress_, Skepticism's _Farmakon_ or Mourning Beloveth's _The Sullen Sulcus_ are also superb records in their own right. Evoken's approach to doom metal is an unrelenting, uncompromising one; their crushingly heavy, but subtly refined dirges bear a great emotional charge, and the result can be staggering. Extreme doom/death remains one of the most thriving doom metal subgenres today, mainly thanks to bands such as these.

(article submitted 11/19/2004)


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