Doom metal

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Doom metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that typically uses slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "thicker" or "heavier" sound than other heavy metal genres. [5] Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom. [6] The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, [6] who formed a prototype for doom metal. During the first half of the 1980s, [6] a number of bands from England (Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General), the United States (Pentagram, Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Trouble, and Cirith Ungol) and Sweden (Candlemass, and later, Count Raven) defined doom metal as a distinct genre.

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. In classical music, tempo is typically indicated with an instruction at the start of a piece and is usually measured in beats per minute. In modern classical compositions, a "metronome mark" in beats per minute may supplement or replace the normal tempo marking, while in modern genres like electronic dance music, tempo will typically simply be stated in bpm.




The electric guitar, bass guitar and drum kit are the most common instruments used to play doom metal (although keyboards are sometimes used), but its structures are rooted in the same scales as in blues. [3] Guitarists and bassists often downtune their instruments to very low notes and make use of large amounts of distortion, thus producing a very "thick" or "heavy" guitar tone, which is one of the defining characteristics of the genre. [7] Along with the usual heavy metal compositional technique of guitars and bass playing the same riff in unison, this creates a loud and bass-heavy wall of sound. Another defining characteristic is the consistent focus on slow tempos, [6] and minor tonality with much use of dissonance (especially in the form of the tritone), employing the usage of repetitive rhythms with little regard to harmonic progression and musical structure. [7]

Electric guitar electrified guitar; fretted stringed instrument with a neck and body that uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals

An electric guitar is a guitar that uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. The vibration occurs when a guitar player strums, plucks, fingerpicks, slaps or taps the strings. The pickup generally uses electromagnetic induction to create this signal, which being relatively weak is fed into a guitar amplifier before being sent to the speaker(s), which converts it into audible sound.

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses.

Drum kit collection of drums and other percussion instruments

A drum kit — also called a drum set, trap set, or simply drums — is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments, typically cymbals, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player, with drumsticks held in both hands, and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell. In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments. Also, both hybrid and entirely electronic kits are used.


Traditional doom metal vocalists favour clean vocals, which are often performed with a sense of despair, desperation or pain; imitating the high-tone wails of Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath), [8] Frank Ferrara (Bang), Bobby Liebling (Pentagram), [7] and Zeeb Parkes (Witchfinder General). So-called "epic doom" vocalists often take it a step further, singing in an operatic style. Doom metal bands influenced by other extreme metal genres often use growled or screamed vocals, as is the case of death-doom, black-doom, and funeral doom.

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, actor and reality television star who rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which he adopted the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". Osbourne was fired from the band in 1979 due to alcohol and drug problems, but went on to have a successful solo career, releasing eleven studio albums, the first seven of which were all awarded multi-platinum certifications in the United States. Osbourne has since reunited with Black Sabbath on several occasions. He rejoined the band in 1997 and helped record the group's final studio album 13 (2013) before they embarked on a farewell tour which culminated in a final performance in their home city, Birmingham, England, in February 2017. His longevity and success have earned him the informal title of "Godfather of Heavy Metal".

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

Bang is an American rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, active briefly in the early 1970s and again since 2014.

Lyrical themes

Lyrics in doom metal play a key role. Influenced by notable blues musicians like Robert Johnson and Son House, [3] normally they are gloomy and pessimistic, [8] including themes such as: suffering, depression, fear, grief, dread, death and anger. While some bands write lyrics in introspective and personal ways, others convey their themes using symbolism – which may be inspired by occult arts and literature. [3]

Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Robert Johnson American blues singer and musician

Robert Leroy Johnson was an American blues singer, songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson's poorly documented life and death have given rise to much legend. The one most closely associated with his life is that he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads to achieve musical success. He is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly as a progenitor of the Delta blues style.

Son House American Delta blues musician

Eddie James "Son" House, Jr. was an American delta blues singer and guitarist, noted for his highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing.

Some doom metal bands use religious themes in their music. Trouble, one of the genre's pioneers, were among the first to incorporate Christian imagery. Others have incorporated occult and pagan imagery. For many bands, the use of religious themes is for aesthetic and symbolic purposes only. Examples include lyrics/imagery about the Last Judgment to invoke dread, or the use of crucifixes and cross-shaped headstones to symbolize death.

Trouble (band) American doom metal band

Trouble is an American doom metal band from Aurora, Illinois, formed in 1979 and considered one of the pioneers of the genre alongside Candlemass and Saint Vitus. The band created a distinct style taking influences of the British heavy metal bands Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and psychedelic rock of the 1970s. A critically acclaimed group, their first two albums, Psalm 9 and The Skull, are cited as landmarks of doom metal. To date, Trouble has released eight studio albums. Although the band never officially broke up, Trouble was plagued by extended inactivity after their original singer Eric Wagner left in 1997. He eventually rejoined in 2000 before leaving again eight years later.

The occult is "knowledge of the hidden" or "knowledge of the paranormal", as opposed to facts and "knowledge of the measurable", usually referred to as science. The term is sometimes taken to mean knowledge that "is meant only for certain people" or that "must be kept hidden", but for most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual reality that extends pure reason and the physical sciences. The terms esoteric and arcane can also be used to describe the occult, in addition to their meanings unrelated to the supernatural.

Paganism non-Abrahamic religion, or modern religious movement such as nature worship

Paganism is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian.

Furthermore, some doom metal bands write lyrics about drugs or drug addiction. This is most common among stoner doom bands, who often describe hallucinogenic or psychedelic experiences.


Tony Iommi's guitar style greatly influenced and defines doom metal. Iommi at the Forum.jpg
Tony Iommi's guitar style greatly influenced and defines doom metal.

Origins (1970s)

Doom metal is rooted in the music of early Black Sabbath. [6] Black Sabbath's music is (in and of) itself stylistically rooted in blues, but with the deliberately doomy and loud guitar playing of Tony Iommi, and the then-uncommon dark and pessimistic lyrics and atmosphere, they set the standards of early heavy metal and inspired various doom metal bands. [7] In the early 1970s both Black Sabbath and Pentagram (also as side band "Bedemon") composed and performed this heavy and dark music, which would in the 1980s begin to be known and referred to as doom metal by subsequent musicians, critics and fans. [3]

Aside from Pentagram and Black Sabbath, other groups from the 1970s would heavily influence the genre's development. Blue Cheer is often hailed as one of the first stoner metal bands. Through the use of loud amplifiers and guitar feedback, their debut Vincebus Eruptum created a template for other artists to follow. [9] Though lacking the pessimistic lyrical content of their contemporaries, Welsh heavy metal band Budgie would also produce heavy songs which were amongst the loudest of their day, stylistically influencing various doom metal acts. [10] Early doom metal was also influenced by Japan's Flower Travellin' Band, particularly their albums Kirikyogen and Satori . [11] Bang's 1971 self-titled debut is considered an important forerunner to doom metal. [12] [13] Other notable groups include Sir Lord Baltimore, [14] Buffalo, [15] Necromandus, [16] Lucifer's Friend, [16] Iron Claw [17] and Leaf Hound. [17]

Development (1980s)

During the early-mid-1980s, bands from England and the United States [6] contributed much to the formation of doom metal as a distinct genre. In 1982, English pioneers Witchfinder General released their debut album Death Penalty . During 1984, two American pioneers also released their debuts; Saint Vitus released their eponymous album and Trouble released Psalm 9 . That same year American band Cirith Ungol (formed in 1971) released their second studio album, King of the Dead —regarded by many as an early influence on doom. [18] [19] The following year, American band Pentagram would go on to release their debut, Relentless . The Swedish Candlemass would also prove influential with their first record Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986 (and prior to that the 1984 album, Day of Retribution as Nemesis), from which the genre takes its name. [6] [ failed verification ]

Some doom metal bands were also influenced by the underground gothic rock and post-punk scene of the 1980s, showing similarities with the dark themes addressed through lyrics and the music atmosphere, both music styles deal with. A doom metal band like Mindrot was often described as a cross-over between death metal and gothic rock. [20]

Regional scenes

Like other extreme metal genres, doom metal also has regionally based scenes, with their own particular characteristics:

Finnish doom metal

In one of the greatest doom metal outputs, Finnish groups focus more on the depressive mood of the genre, evoking an intense grieving feeling. [21] The bands play with very slow tempos and melodic tones, creating an atmosphere of darkness and melancholia. [21] [22] This scene was kick-started by the band Rigor Mortis (which, due to an older US band with the same name, changed their name to Spiritus Mortis), which originated in 1987. [23] [24] Notable bands include Reverend Bizarre, [25] Minotauri, [24] Dolorian, [21] Shape of Despair, [21] Thergothon, [21] Skepticism, [21] and Unholy. [26]

Louisiana doom metal

Regarded as sludge metal's birthplace, [6] this scene originated in New Orleans in the late 1980s. [27] [28] [29] The bands of this scene employ some punk influences, like harsh vocals, guitar distortion and downtuned sound. [30] [31] [32] This scene was pioneered by Exhorder, who was the first band to combine doom metal with a punk-influenced metal sound. [29] In the 90s, several sludge and stoner metal bands arose in the state, mainly influenced by bands like Black Sabbath and Melvins, also mixing their sound with genres like hardcore punk and Southern rock. [28] [32] [33] [34] Notable bands include Eyehategod, [28] Down [33] Exhorder, [29] Crowbar, [32] and Acid Bath [35] [36]

Washington D.C. doom metal

This scene formed in the early 1970s and was kickstarted by Pentagram and The Obsessed. [37] [38] Various doom/stoner bands, mostly from Washington, D.C. and its metropolitan area on Maryland and Virginia (thus also being labelled "Maryland doom sound" [37] ), formed in this region being heavily influenced by early hard rock and heavy metal bands, like UFO, Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Sir Lord Baltimore. [38] [39] This scene is also known as "Hellhound sound" for being closely related to the late Hellhound Records, [37] who signed with many important bands of the scene like Saint Vitus, [40] [41] Internal Void, [41] [39] Iron Man, [41] Revelation, [41] Wretched [41] and Unorthodox. [41] Other notable bands include Evoken, [42] Spirit Caravan, [38] [39] Earthride, [38] and The Hidden Hand. [40]

Pacific Northwest doom metal

The Pacific Northwest region – primarily Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia – has been host to a growing scene of doom, sludge, and stoner metal [43] [44] since the 1990s. It is influenced by the geographical origin of grunge music and a sound pioneered in part by Washington band The Melvins. [6] Common visual themes include the region's cold, rainy, forested climate, and many bands utilize psychedelic imagery influenced by bands like Sleep, Karp and Harkonen. [43] Musical styles often share crossover features with atmospheric/ambient black metal, drone metal, and post-metal as seen in Oregon's YOB, Agalloch, Witch Mountain, and Red Fang; Washington's Earth, and Sunn O))); and Vancouver's Anciients, Astrakhan, [45] and Aaron Turner project Sumac, among various others.

Palm Desert Scene

Palm Desert, California, hosts a thriving desert rock and stoner metal scene, drawing heavy influences from psychedelia, blues and hardcore punk, often featuring distinctive repetitive drum beats, a propensity for free-form jamming, and "trance-like" or "sludgy" grooves. [46] [47] [48] Because of their integration, the term "stoner rock" is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "desert rock". [49] Notable bands include Kyuss, [50] [51] Queens of the Stone Age, [46] Dali's Llama, [52] Slo Burn, [53] and Brant Bjork. [54]

Stylistic divisions


Black-doom, also known as blackened doom, is a style that combines the slowness and thicker, bassier sound of doom metal with the shrieking vocals and heavily distorted guitar sound of black metal. [55] [56] [57] Black-doom bands maintain the Satanic ideology associated with black metal, while melding it with moodier themes more related to doom metal, like depression, nihilism, and nature. [55] They also use the slower pace of doom metal in order to emphasize the harsh atmosphere present in black metal. [58] Examples of black-doom bands include Barathrum, [59] Forgotten Tomb, [56] Woods of Ypres, [60] Deinonychus, [61] Shining, [62] Nortt, [63] Bethlehem, [64] early Katatonia, [65] Tiamat, [58] Dolorian, [58] October Tide, [58] and In the Woods.... [58]

Depressive suicidal black metal

Pioneered by black-doom bands like Opthalamia, Katatonia, Bethlehem, Forgotten Tomb, and Shining, depressive suicidal black metal, also known as suicidal black metal, depressive black metal or DSBM, is a style that melds the second wave-style of black metal with doom metal, [66] with lyrics revolving around themes such as depression, self-harm, misanthrophy, suicide, and death. [67] [68] DSBM bands draw the lo-fi recording and highly distorted guitars of black metal, while employing the usage of acoustic instruments and non-distorted electric guitar's timbres present in doom metal, interchanging the slower, doom-like, sections with faster tremolo picking. [66] Vocals are usually high-pitched like in black metal, but lacking of energy, simulating feelings like hopelessness, desperation, and plea. [66] The presence of one-man bands is more proeminent in this genre compared to others. [66] Examples of bands include Xasthur, [69] Leviathan, [66] Strid, [66] Silencer, [67] [68] Make a Change… Kill Yourself, [66] and I Shalt Become. [67] [68]

Blackened death-doom

Blackened death-doom is a genre that combines the slow tempos and monolithic drumming of doom metal, the complex and loud riffage of death metal and the shrieking vocals of black metal. [70] Examples of blackened death-doom bands include Morast, [70] Faustcoven, [70] The Ruins of Beverast, [70] Bolzer, [70] Necros Christos, [70] Harvest Gulgaltha, [71] Dragged Into Sunlight, [72] Hands of Thieves, [73] and Soulburn. [74]


My Dying Bride at Frozen Rock Fest. 2007. My Dying Bride 44.jpg
My Dying Bride at Frozen Rock Fest. 2007.

Death-doom is a style that combines the slow tempos and pessimistic atmosphere of doom metal with the deep growling vocals and double-kick drumming of death metal. [75] Influenced mostly by the early work of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, the style emerged during the late 1980s and gained a certain amount of popularity during the 1990s. [75] Death-doom was also pioneered by bands such as Winter, [76] Disembowelment, [76] Paradise Lost, [76] Autopsy, Anathema, and My Dying Bride. [76]

Funeral doom

Funeral doom is a genre that crosses death-doom with funeral dirge music. [77] It is played at a very slow tempo, and places an emphasis on evoking a sense of emptiness and despair. [3] Typically, electric guitars are heavily distorted and dark ambient aspects such as keyboards or synthesizers are often used to create a "dreamlike" atmosphere. [55] Vocals consist of mournful chants or growls and are often in the background. [55] Funeral doom was pioneered by Mournful Congregation, [78] Esoteric, Evoken, Funeral, Thergothon, [79] and Skepticism. [80]

Drone metal

Sunn O))) performing live. Sunno)))cloaks.jpg
Sunn O))) performing live.

Drone metal (also known as drone doom) is a style of doom metal that is largely defined by drones; notes or chords that are sustained and repeated throughout a piece of music. [81] [82] [83] Typically, the electric guitar is performed with large amounts of reverb and feedback [81] while lacking the presence of drums and vocals. [55] Songs are often very long and lack beat or rhythm in the traditional sense. [55] Drone metal is generally influenced by drone music, [81] noise music, [81] and minimalist music. [81] The style emerged in the early 1990s and was pioneered by Earth, [84] Boris, and Sunn O))). [81]

Epic doom

Epic doom has a heavy classical influence. One of the main characteristics are the vocals; vocalists typically employ clean, operatic and choral singing, accompanied by keyboarding and drumming performed in a bombastic fashion in order to evoke an "epic" sensation. [55] [85] [86] Lyrics and imagery are typically inspired by fantasy or mythology. [55] Examples of prominent epic doom bands include Candlemass, [87] Solitude Aeturnus, [88] Solstice, [89] While Heaven Wept, [86] and Doomsword. [90]


Gothic-doom, also known as doom-gothic, is a style that combines more traditional elements of doom metal with gothic rock. [91] [92] Gothic-doom bands usually play at slow and mid-tempos and employ the usage of instruments that are more related to classical music, alongside traditional doom metal instruments, in order to create darker and meditative atmospheres. [91] Doom-gothic lyrics combines the dramatic and romantic elements of gothic rock with the sorrowness and melancholy present in doom metal, while being more introspective and focused on personal experiences such as love, grief, irreparable loss, loss of faith, etc. [91] Unlike in gothic metal and death-doom, gothic-doom bands prefer the use of cleaner vocals instead of employing death growls, [92] although some of them employ harsher vocals occasionally, and avoid the usage of death metal-like riffage. [91] Bands labelled as gothic-doom include Weeping Silence, [93] The Foreshadowing, [92] Grave Lines, [94] Artrosis, [95] Ava Inferi, [96] Draconian, [97] and Type O Negative. [98]

Progressive doom

Progressive doom is a fusion genre that combines elements of progressive metal and doom metal. [99] Notable bands include King Goat, [99] Below the Sun, [100] Sierra, [101] and Oceans of Slumber. [102]

Sludge metal

Sludge metal (also known as sludge doom [7] [58] or sludgecore) [28] is a style that combines doom metal and hardcore punk, and sometimes Southern rock. Many sludge bands compose slow and heavy songs that contain brief hardcore passages. [28] [32] However, some bands emphasise fast tempos throughout their music. [103] The string instruments are heavily distorted and are often played with large amounts of feedback to produce an abrasive, sludgy sound. [104] [30] Drumming is often performed in typical doom metal fashion, but drummers may employ hardcore d-beat or double-kick drumming during faster passages. Vocals are usually shouted or screamed, and lyrics often focus on suffering, drug abuse, politics and anger towards society. The style was pioneered in the early late 1980s by the Melvins, and in the 1990s by bands such as Eyehategod, [28] Crowbar, [32] Buzzov*en, [103] Acid Bath, [105] and Grief. [106]

Stoner metal

Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard. ElectricWizard by Christian Misje 02.jpg
Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard.

Stoner metal or stoner doom [107] [108] describes doom metal that incorporates psychedelic rock and acid rock elements. [109] [110] Stoner metal is often heavily distorted, groove-laden bass-heavy sound, making much use of guitar effects such as fuzz, phaser, or flanger. [111] Stoner bands typically play in slow-to-mid tempo, emplying the usage of melodic vocals and "retro" production. [112] It was pioneered in the early–mid-1990s by bands such as Kyuss, [113] Sleep, [114] [115] Acid King, [116] [117] Electric Wizard, [118] [115] Orange Goblin, [118] and Sons of Otis. [119]

Traditional doom

Influenced by 70s and 80s heavy metal, [120] traditional doom metal bands more commonly use higher guitar tunings, and do not play as slow as many other doom bands. [55] Traditional doom bands typically play slow to mid-tempo songs with a thick and heavy sound with the electric bass following the melody line, and sometimes employ the usage of keyboards, although assuming a secondary role on traditional doom metal songs. [8] Vocals are usually clean with the occasional growl or scream. [55] The lyrics in traditional doom usually are eerie and dark like other doom metal divisions. Some bands who play traditional doom metal are Orodruin, Reverend Bizarre, [121] Witchcraft, Saint Vitus, [8] and Count Raven. [8]

See also

Notes and references

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