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A Beginner's Guide To Heavy Metal #20 - Doom Metal

Updated on December 25, 2013

Soldiers Of Doom

In terms of the chronology of heavy metal, this is the sub-genre that is the most important, because for a time it was the only form of heavy metal in existence. When Black Sabbath came roaring onto the musical landscape, one of the many things that instantly set them apart from all of the other bands out there was the loud and distorted guitar sound compliment by, for the most part, slower dark riffs providing what could easily be seen as the soundtrack of a coming apocalypse. Other bands that came around like Budgie and Pentagram followed suit, laying out dark gloomy riffs that conjured images of a darkness that overshadowed all within earshot, and we all loved it. Even now, 40 years later, while all heavy metal has stemmed from that, there are bands dedicated to keeping the oldest sound of heavy metal alive and gloomy as ever under the most appropriate title of doom metal.



Sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions

Beginning as a drone duo in Seattle Washington, Sunn O))) have grown far beyond their roots to become and truly harrowing force of avant-garde doom metal. Their most recent album brings them to a whole new level of experimentation, encompassing horns, upright basses, guest musicians from other drone acts, and vocals provided by Norwegian black metal band Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar. All of this results in an album that is almost pure atmosphere, and the atmosphere is a dark one.



Hour Of 13 - Ritualist

A traditional heavy metal band from North Carolina putting forth a sound and band in general following in the footprints laid by the almighty Black Sabbath, in almost every respect. Their music is dark and heavy, the lyrics encompass all manner of evil subject matters, and they are even named after an old horror movie. Unfortunately as I'm writing this they are on hiatus, but hopefully we will see a return at some point.

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Down - Over The Under

The world of extreme metal got a big boost when one of the living legends of heavy metal vocalists Phil Anselmo was brought to the world stage with the metal monster that is Pantera. Since the unfortunate demise of that band, he has kept busy with releases in virtually every extreme metal sub-genre there is, but none have been more successful than the uncompromisingly heavy Down. Down have taken the traditional sound of doom metal to a new level keeping the headbanging groove metal of Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown's previous band along with the slowed down riffs of the new one and this is the album where you get to hear that in full force.



High On Fire - Death Is This Communion

Matt Pike has become one of the most recognizable cult figures in heavy metal sub-genres. After virtually creating the, rather limited, sub-genre of stoner metal with his previous band Sleep, he took to creating an even heavier sound with the modern day masters of doom metal High On Fire. They have released albums since this one, but nothing quite encapsulates the darkness and the fury that makes this band such a stand out as this one. If the cover doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the darkness that lies within, the opening song certainly will.

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Candlemass - Nightfall

Many people consider Candlemass to be one of the more campy bands of heavy metal, due in large part to the unfortunately hilarious music video that accompanies possibly THE standout track of the album "Bewitched". Taking all of that aside, the album itself contains all of the riffs any self respecting metal could want to play along with and Messiah Marcolin has easily one of the most powerful vocals of anyone on this list.

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Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses

Stretching the definition of doom metal just a little bit with this, as they are often put forth as being leaders of goth rock, and display a sense of humor quite often that may make them seem too, well, happy for doom metal. However, the music is more than dark enough to make up for any lack of seriousness displayed in the lyrics, One listen to their masterful cover of Black Sabbath (either version of it) or even their incredibly evil sounding cover of Seals & Crofts "Summer Breeze" should be all it takes to convince anyone otherwise.



Witchcraft - Legend

When this band released this album back in 2012, many critics noted how modern the production value sounded. You throwback lovers however will be pleased to know it is one of the only "modern" sounding things about this band. A group of musicians obsessed with underground legends of early heavy metal Pentagram, they have forged their sound very much in that vein, comparing so well to it that Pentagram front man Bobby Liebling has even joined them to perform before. They are, however, still enough their own band to make them a refreshing newer band on the metal landscape.

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Orchid - The Mouths Of Madness

The first thing I ever saw of this band was the video they shot for the title track of this album. They looked and sounded so much like classic Black Sabbath, that for a moment I thought I was watching an old video of Black Sabbath that I somehow have missed. The question of where this band draws it's influences is one that is very easily answered, and they live up to the legacy masterfully. Old school doom metal at its finest, if you are a fan of classic heavy metal you simply cannot pass this one up.

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Pentagram - Relentless

The documentary "Last Days Here" following the sobering of Bobby Liebling and subsequent rebirth of Pentagram, combined with the discovery and official release of the original demos of the band recorded back in 70s have been a dream come true for fans of the early days of heavy metal, as well as helping to put Pentagram on the map where they should be. Combining heavy riffs in the vein of Black Sabbath and Budgie with the over driven blues influence of Blue Cheer, I for one could not be happier to have these living underground legends of metal back and pummeling audiences throughout the world.

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Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality

Was there any doubt as to what band would be at the top of this list? The only difficult decision I had to make with this was which album of theirs I would end up putting at the top, as really any of their classic albums would have fit the bill. Though in the end, one song made my decision final: "Children Of The Grave". Easily the heaviest song in existence at the time of this album's release, that song and that song alone is the very definition of doom metal. The riff, the tone, the lyrics, even the title just exude everything that doom metal should be, and further proves that after all this time, Black Sabbath are still the masters of metal.

A Dark Cloud On The Horizon

Heavy metal since it's beginning has been known as a genre that encompasses all things dark and heavy in music, and nowhere in metal will you find better examples of it than in any band that chooses to wave this banner. The fact that so many newer bands keep coming back to it after all these years, shows that the cloud of darkness will not be leaving anytime soon.


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