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Doom Metal

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"They say my songs are much too slow..."
Saint Vitus, Born Too Late

Primary Stylistic Influences (Doom and Stoner Metal):

Secondary Stylistic Influences (Doom and Stoner Metal):

Primary Stylistic Influences (Sludge Metal):

Secondary Stylistic Influences (Sludge Metal):

Primary Stylistic Influences (Death/Doom and Funeral Doom):

Secondary Stylistic Influences (Death/Doom and Funeral Doom):

Doom metal is a subgenre of Heavy Metal that emerged in the late seventies/early eighties (though, due to its close relationship with traditional heavy metal, its origins are sometimes pushed even further back into The '60s). It's often slow, dark, depressing and pessimistic, and is characterized by a thicker guitar sound than other genres of metal. The music and lyrics are usually meant to evoke a sense of dread, although more epic and "rocking" themes are far from uncommon.

A simpler description of doom metal: a genre consisting of metal bands that looked at Black Sabbath, thought "Hey, that's pretty doomy, but we can do better!", and subsequently took the doomy metal of Sabbath to its logical extreme. Hence, doom metal.

The genre technically started right at the beginning of metal, with the aforementioned Black Sabbath, who are near universally considered the first true metal band. Another classic metal band, Pentagram, was also a key part of doom metal, though the genre was not truly formed until a tiny bit later on, with several other influential bands including Saint Vitus, Cirith Ungol, Pagan Altar, Trouble, and Witchfinder General. It should be noted that several of the early traditional doom bands, as well as more recent bands following in their footsteps, often lack certain stereotypes associated with the genre. Some of the bands have faster paced songs, and a few were quite upbeat in tone, while still retaining the Sabbath influence. Possibly, the most influential of the doom metal bands was Candlemass, who released their debut album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986. It was this album that brought doom metal to greater attention in metal circles, when it had been previously seen as more of a niche genre. Alongside the Black Sabbath track "Hand of Doom", It's also possibly where the name of the genre came from ("Doomicus Metallicus" = "Doom Metal"; "Hand of Doom" = "Doom Metal"). During the eighties, doom metal was a woefully overlooked and deeply underground subgenre, metal being dominated commercially by Hair Metal and in the less-underground-than-doom-metal underground by Thrash Metal. In fact, it's not at all impossible to find some fans who believe that doom metal is an entirely recent phenomenon.

At the beginning of the nineties, the band Cathedral released their debut album Forest of Equilibrium, which fused doom metal with more aesthetics from extreme metal, making doom slower and heavier. Cathedral themselves later moved onto a more uptempo, groove-oriented style, but their early material resulted in doom metal gaining more recognition. By now, there were a couple of doom metal subgenres: "epic doom", which fused traditional doom with operatic vocals and (often) Heavy Mithril; and "sludge metal", which fused doom with Hardcore Punk and in some cases southern rock, and started off in New Orleans. In the early-to-mid nineties, doom metal diversified, and quite a few new subgenres were created, including "stoner metal", "death/doom", "black doom", "funeral doom" and "drone doom". Around the time Nu Metal was mainstream, the stoner metal band Electric Wizard released Dopethrone, which is regarded as one of the seminal doom metal albums and one of the heaviest metal albums of all time, bringing to doom a new audience obsessed with heaviness in metal.

Another form of doom, known as "post-metal" or "atmospheric sludge metal", combined sludge metal with Post-Rock. Certain post-metal bands, such as Isis, Neurosis, Cult of Luna, and Pelican, have gained recognition in the metal scene, but this success has been met with backlash from certain people, who refer to it as "hipster metal" (and, for some reason, lump them in with Mastodon, who are not a post-metal band despite taking influences from sludge metal). It is, however, debatable whether post-metal even qualifies as a doom metal subgenre (or even a metal subgenre at that), and most doom purists are likely to consider it as merely "heavy post-rock", claiming that these bands take very little influence from the doom style.

There's also Gothic Metal, a subgenre of metal that evolved from death/doom thanks to three British death/doom bands, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema, known as the "Peaceville Trio" due to all three bands being signed to Peaceville Records. Some gothic metal bands also count as doom, but overall, gothic metal is not a subgenre of doom, despite evolving from it.

A new wave of retro-doom metal (sometimes known as "occult rock") started to gain popularity in 2011 and has remained popular since, encompassing such bands as Jex Thoth and Ghost, with a lot of these bands not intending to play any form of doom at all. This recent and increasingly popular wave of metal- drawing influence from 70s rock, sludge, stoner, and traditional metal- is now the closest thing to mainstream attention doom metal has yet to receive. Due to their wider appeal, some of these bands have been accused of being "hipster".

Although doom is not well-known in the mainstream, it's had quite a history. Despite the fact that doom and doom related metal has led to the rise of such genres as Heavy Metal, Grunge to an extent, Sludge Metal, Gothic Metal, Stoner Rock, and others, doom metal itself has (for the most part) never truly broken into the mainstream and it remains overshadowed by genres such as Metalcore, Alternative Metal, and Death Metal. Many claim that the reason doom has been overlooked—save a few acts such as Alice in Chains and several of the more recent occult rock bands—is because of its speed, or lack thereof (most people attribute heavy metal with blinding speed, something doom metal avoids). In fact, many songs glorifying heavy metal, especially those from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal-era, reinforce this notion that heavy metal can only be fast. Ironically, a lot of early and definitive doom albums were not very slow paced at all. Recently, doom metal has been showing itself to be an influence on newer eras of rock, particularly on the traditional metal revival scene and the retro-doom or "occult rock" movement. Following the success of Ghost, The Sword and Black Sabbath, doom finally began receiving more than just traces of mainstream attention, leading some to speculate that the genre may be becoming a new trend in metal.

The most basic forms of doom metal can be no more complex than simply taking any average "fast" metal song and slowing it down considerably. This has led to something of an YouTube phenomenon involving slowing down songs from otherwise speed, thrash, death, or black metal bands up to 50 to 500%, tempo or speed wise, via digital alteration software, thus giving said songs a strong doom metal feel (with a near unavoidable side effect of the vocalist sounding like a stoned demon.) However, purer forms of doom make use of the term doom and apply it to their lyrics and sound in order to create moods of hopelessness and depression. Musically, doom tends to not be very different from regular metal, though the riffing and vocal styles tend to be different. However, in subgenres, such as funeral doom keyboards, organs, and other instruments (such as gongs) can be used to thicken the overall atmosphere. It's also common to use death growls and choruses. In traditional doom and stoner doom alike, blues signatures and Blues Rock and Psychedelic Rock features are regularly applied, moreso for the latter. As a result, psychedelic blues rock bands from the 1960s and 1970s are often called out as being major influences of stoner doom.

In musical style, a lot of traditional doom bands aspire to sound like Black Sabbath, particularly the early Ozzy Osborne era- circa 1969-1973. This has been most accomplished by the aforementioned stoner doom bands mainly due to the psychedelic nature of Black Sabbath during that time. Riffs, especially box riffs and blues riffs, are also extremely prevalent throughout doom metal as another side-effect of being Black Sabbath inspired. Despite being one of the many 'extreme metal' subgenres, doom metal is also one of the most diverse. While many doom bands and songs employ incredibly crushing guitars, apocalyptic attitudes, and demonic growled vocals, others might opt to sound like otherwise upbeat '70s rock with very gloomy lyrics. This is not including folk, industrial, avant-garde and electronic doom bands.

List of doom bands, categorised by subgenre:

Traditional Doom and Epic Doom
Technically they are different subgenres, however the distinction is frequently very hard to grasp, so they've been lumped in together (A basic guide: traditional doom = Saint Vitus, epic doom = Candlemass). This style is rooted in '70s rock and metal, and it becomes obvious in their presentation and sound; they sound as if punk never happened. For epic doom bands, some '80s metal, specifically the operatic vocals and gated drums, is mixed in. Shred-style leadwork is also present with some epic doom acts. "Epic heavy metal" is an adjacent microgenre that is usually lumped in with traditional/epic doom, and while its classification is somewhat nebulous, if it's too uptempo to be straight doom, too doomy to be straight trad, and has a pronounced grandiosity (often with mournful overtones), it's probably epic heavy metal. Manilla Road and Solstice codified most of epic heavy metal's tropes, while Visigoth and Atlantean Kodex have raised its profile in recent years.

Note: Doom metal and stoner rock/metal are used interchangeably by the press, so don't be surprised if these bands are labeled 'stoner rock/metal' in some circles.

Sludge Metal
As mentioned above, 'sludge metal' also known as 'sludgecore' or simply 'sludge' is a crossover of doom metal fused with hardcore punk, possibly with southern rock, grindcore, industrial and noise rock influences. Sludge metal is typically aggressive and abrasive, often featuring shouted vocals, heavily distorted instruments, sharply contrasting tempos and lots of noise & feedback.

In other words, it's Grunge's truest successor, and much like it's predecessor, the 'sludge' label has applied very loosely to the bands under it. This split in the perceived meaning of 'sludge' later gave rise to the 'post-metal' genre, and depending on the band there's also a certain amount of overlap with crust punk, powerviolence, drone, and beatdown hardcore.

Stoner Metal
Stoner metal, also known as "stoner rock" and "desert rock", is essentially doom fused with Psychedelic Rock. It is characterised by often being bass-heavy and making much use of guitar/bass effects such as fuzz, phaser or flanger. The main stoner metal scene is in the Palm Desert. There is a difference between stoner metal and stoner rock (stoner rock is more groove-oriented and fully rooted in '70s psychedelia, stoner metal is slower and heavier and a tad more oriented towards hardcore punk ala sludge metal and is also often more jam-oriented; Church of Misery is a particularly good example of that tendency), but there's enough overlap that bands of both genres can be listed here.

Note: Stoner rock/metal and doom metal are used interchangeably by the press, so don't be surprised if these bands are labeled 'doom metal' in some circles.

As described above, this is what happens when sludge metal is fused with post-rock (and, depending on the band, possibly also shoegaze or country). Also known as "atmospheric sludge metal". The term "post-metal" is sometimes (though less frequently) used as a much broader term for metal bands with post-rock tendencies, eg. Sunn O))), Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room. As of the 2010s, there is also occasionally some overlap with certain technical and blackened death metal acts, which can largely be owed to the popularity and influence of Ulcerate.
See also the Black Metal page for bands that fuse post-metal and Black Metal (listed under "Post-Black Metal and Blackened Shoegaze", although these are two distinct styles).

Drone Doom or Drone Metal
A fusion of doom metal and drone music, also taking influence from ambient and minimalist music. Typically, the electric guitar is performed with a large amount of reverb or audio feedback, while vocals, if present, are usually growled or screamed; the more noise-influenced acts frequently include tape loops or harsh noise samples as well. Songs often lack beat or rhythm in the traditional sense and are typically very long. The genre was started by the band Earth, though the most well-known drone doom band is Sunn O))), who modeled themselves after Earth (their name is even a reference to Earth, as well as to the Sunn amplifier brand). This genre could be described as minimalistic and brutal, and extremely creepy.note 

Death/Doom Metal
See Death Metal for description and list of bands.

Funeral Doom
Evolving from death/doom (particularly due to the death/doom band Disembowelment), funeral doom can be described as "death/doom amped up". Taking some cues from dark ambient, it is played at a very slow tempo (even for doom), and places an emphasis on evoking a sense of emptiness and despair. Typically, electric guitars are heavily distorted and keyboards or synthesizers are used to create a "dreamlike" atmosphere. Vocals consist of mournful chants or growls and are often in the background. Needless to say, it's among the scariest and most depressing music ever created.

Black Doom or Blackened Doom
Doom fused with Black Metal. Typically, vocals are in the form of high-pitched shrieks and guitars are played with much distortion, which is common in black metal. But the music is played at a slow tempo with a much 'thicker' guitar sound, which is common in doom metal. Lyrics often involve themes of nature, nihilism and depression, but the more sludge-leaning acts usually switch that out for hatred, self-loathing, and misanthropy. Often overlaps with Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal.

If you're wondering why there isn't a list for death/doom, it's because that list is already present on the Death Metal page.

Doom metal displays the following tropes:

  • Author Appeal: As with every genre as massive as this, there are bound to be repeated ideas in the lyrics that are linked to something the lyricist likes.
    • Stoner Metal: Weed, deserts, occasionally horror and counterculture movies.
    • Sludge Metal: Hatred, misanthropy, self-loathing, and self-abuse.
    • Traditional/Epic: Occult and satanism, occasionally Christianity or Howard-esque sword-and-sorcery.
    • Funeral Doom: Hopelessness and existentialism.
    • Heavy Psych: Psychedelia (original acts), Horror and exploitation movies (revivalist acts)
    • Occult Rock: Occultism and mysticism
  • Brown Note: Drone Doom and Sludge Metal in particular are often drenched in feedback, leading to this trope.
  • Careful with That Axe: Sludge metal bands typically utilize extremely harsh and pissed off-sounding screaming as their main vocal style.
  • Christian Rock: Surprisingly, Doom Metal seems to tolerate Christian bands far more than certain other genres do, possibly because quite a few of the genre's founding bands (e.g. Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Candlemass, Trouble, and Place of Skulls) qualify as this or Ambiguously Christian, and sludge also tends to be somewhat tolerant of it (depending on the region) due to a mix of this and numerous musicians who practice the Christian faith; Crowbar is a good example of a prominent sludge act with unambiguously Christian lyrical content.
  • Darker and Edgier: Black Sabbath Darker and Edgier, to be exact. For an in-subgenre example, funeral doom is the Darker and Edgier version of death/doom, with a lot more keyboards and a more obvious air of depressiveness.
  • Deep South: The birthplace of sludge as a recognizable genre and a central part of the identity of many early acts, and also a common place for sludge and stoner acts to come from (particularly Louisiana and Georgia). There also tends to be a surprising amount of overlap between sludge and various regional country and bluegrass scenes and fandoms.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Funeral doom.
    • Shows up sometimes in other subgenres as well. Warning's Watching from a Distance is an excellent example of this. It almost sounds like what would have happened if Joy Division played doom metal.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: It's right there in the genre name. A rather large number of bands also have at least one song with the word "Doom" prominent in the title and/or lyrics.
  • Drone of Dread: Drone metal is all about this, but it also shows up in other subgenres.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Less for the doom subgenre and more for the heavy metal subgenre as a whole. Because Black Sabbath are crowned as the first heavy and doom metal band and many other proto-metal bands of that era are now considered to also be proto-doom or very influential to later doom and stoner metal acts, heavy metal arguably began with doom metal. This has led to three unusual occurrences:
    • Doom metal's origins are technically as pop music, as Black Sabbath circa 1970-1975 were very much a mainstream rock band, if not exactly beloved by the music press of the time.
    • Heavy metal, a genre almost universally recognized for its blistering speed and hypermasculine aggression, began with a subgenre universally recognized for its lack of speed and vulnerable lyricism.
    • Heavy Metal, especially European ones, takes a lot of influence from Classical Music, but earlier bands were much more bluesier than later ones and doom metal makes significant use of blues scales.
  • Epic Rocking: Due to the fact that this genre is all about being slow and doomy, it's Justified. It's not uncommon for bands in the genre to record albums consisting of effectively a single track.
  • Genre Roulette: Some experimental rock/metal bands loosely associated with doom, like Boris and Melvins, are prone to this.
  • Groove Metal: Groove metal can sometimes be thought as doom metal meets Thrash Metal.
  • Grunge: The close relationship between Grunge and Sludge are often downplayed by mainstream press and fans of each genre, but taken without the context of grunge rock's incredible success in the early '90s before the rise of Post-Grunge and Nu Metal, both can be considered sister genres, especially thanks to The Melvins' influence.
    • One can even find a close relationship between Grunge and stoner rock as well. Indeed, between grunge, stoner rock, and sludge, there is a common sonic root that is only tempered by certain tertiary stylistic origins: all three mix doom metal, hardcore punk, and early hard rock, but grunge runs with Alternative Rock, stoner rock adds more Psychedelic Rock, and sludge doubled down on doom metal. Early Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Alice in Chains all had full songs and elements of sludge and stoner rock, with Soundgarden sometimes treated as one origin point of stoner rock alongside Monster Magnet and Masters of Reality. Though Nirvana and Mudhoney dropped these influences entirely not long into their discography, Soundgarden never quite left their fusion of retro-rock and stoner rock-influenced punk while Alice in Chains eventually became outright doom/sludge on their post-Staley albums. Meanwhile, especially in the 1990s, bands like Kyuss, Sleep, and Fu Manchu were originally seen as unusually '70s-style grunge rock bands before the stoner rock label was created.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Quite common, especially in drone, funeral doom and sludge.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Sludge metal is this trope in musical form thanks to the hateful lyrics and confrontational sound taken from hardcore punk.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Though not as omnipresent as Black Metal and Death Metal, doom metal can have some pretty terrifying songs through the gloomy lyrics and even gloomier sound they feature. On the other hand, it is ubiquitous among heavier subgenres such as sludge, death-doom, funeral doom, black-doom, and drone doom from the harsher aural signatures they adopt.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Some death/doom, funeral doom, and post-metal acts mix clean and harsh vocals.
  • Spin-Off: Gothic Metal and Funeral Doom from Death/Doom; Post-Metal from Sludge.
  • Trope Codifier: Generally considered to be a combination of Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Trouble, Cirith Ungol, Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General, and for later doom bands, Cathedral. As for the subgenres:
  • Trope Makers: The actual creation of doom metal as a genre can be blamed on a few bands, including Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Pagan Altar, Cirith Ungol, Trouble, and Witchfinder General. Sludge, meanwhile, can generally be pinpointed to Black Flag (My War has been massively influential to the genre), Melvins, and Flipper.
  • Ur-Example: Black Sabbath, if you consider them part of the genre. Blue Cheer is an even earlier example, though it's debatable whether they're even a metal band. Flower Travellin' Band is another one, but they're closer to being an Ur-Example of stoner rather than doom. The Beatles' song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" from Abbey Road also deserves a mention here.
  • Watch It Stoned: With doom metal being a subgenre of Black Sabbath worshippers, it's no surprise that a lot of them take a fuckload of drugs. Stoner metal is the "purest" form of this.

Alternative Title(s): Sludge Metal, Stoner Metal