Doom metal

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Doom metal
Stylistic origins
Heavy metal (esp. early 1970s Black Sabbath albums)
Cultural origins
Early–mid 1980s, England and United States
Typical instruments
Mainstream popularity Underground
Derivative forms Gothic metal
Epic doomDrone doomFuneral doom
Fusion genres
Stoner doomSludge doomDeath doomBlack doom

Doom metal is a form of heavy metal music that typically employs very slow tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much 'thicker' or 'heavier' sound than other metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of despair, dread, and impending doom.[1]

The genre is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath,[1] who formed a prototype for doom metal with songs such as "Black Sabbath" and "Into the Void". During the first half of the 1980s,[1] a number of bands from England (Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General) and the United States (Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Trouble) defined doom metal as a distinct genre.


[edit] Characteristics

[edit] Instrumentation

The electric guitar, bass guitar and drum kit are the most common instruments used to play doom metal, although keyboards are occasionally used. Guitarists and bassists typically tune their instruments to very low notes and make a greater use of distortion. This produces a very 'thick' or 'heavy' guitar tone, which is one of the defining characteristics of the genre. Another defining characteristic is the consistent focus on slow tempos.[1]

[edit] Vocals

Traditional doom metal vocalists favour clean vocals, which are often performed with a sense of despair, desperation or pain. Epic doom vocalists usually sing in an operatic style. Doom bands with extreme metal influence typically favour growled or screamed vocals, while sludge doom vocalists usually employ shouted or strained singing.

[edit] Lyrical themes

Lyrics in doom metal play a very important role. Often, they are pessimistic in nature, and include themes such as: suffering, depression, fear, grief, death and anger. While some bands write lyrics in introspective and personal ways, others convey their themes using symbolism – which may be inspired by various types of literature.

Some doom metal bands use religious themes in their music, perhaps more so than other heavy metal bands.[citation needed] 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.

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

[edit] History of doom metal

Tony Iommi's guitar style greatly influenced doom metal.

[edit] Origins (1970s)

Doom metal is among the oldest forms of heavy metal, rooted in the music of early Black Sabbath,[1] one of the first heavy metal bands. Black Sabbath's music is itself stylistically rooted in blues, but with the deliberately doomy and loud guitar playing of Tony Iommi {who often used the tritone, or diabolus in musica, in his playing and composition}, and the then-uncommon dark and pessimistic lyrics and atmosphere, they set the standards of early heavy metal and inspired various doom metal bands to come. In the early 1970s both Black Sabbath and the American band Pentagram 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.

[edit] Development (1980s)

During the early-mid 1980s, bands from England and the United States[1] contributed much to the formation of doom metal as a distinct genre. In 1982, English pioneers Pagan Altar and Witchfinder General released their debut albums; Volume 1 and Death Penalty respectively. During 1984 and 1985, three American pioneers also released their debuts; Saint Vitus released their eponymous album, Trouble released Psalm 9 and Pentagram released Relentless. The Swedish Candlemass would also prove influential with their first record Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986, from which the genre takes its name.[1]

During the 1980s, doom metal was deeply underground and gathered only small circles of cult-following fans.[citation needed] In the 1980s, metal was dominated by the faster metal subgenres speed and thrash, and commercially by glam metal. Slower, heavier and pessimistic in its nature, doom metal bands didn't receive much attention even among some die-hard metal fans of that time.[citation needed]

[edit] Stylistic divisions

At the beginning of the 1990s, experimentation within doom metal became widespread, and the genre diversified as a result. Today, bands who continue the style of the genre's pioneers are often referred to as traditional doom metal.

[edit] Epic doom

Epic doom is a style of doom metal that is characterized primarily by its vocal style; vocalists typically employ clean, operatic and choral singing. Lyrics and imagery are typically inspired by fantasy or mythology, while the drumming is performed in a bombastic fashion. However, for the uninitiated, distinguishing epic doom from traditional doom may be difficult. Examples of prominent epic doom bands include Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Solstice and Doomsword.

[edit] Stoner doom

Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard.

Stoner doom, stoner metal and psychedelic doom describes doom metal that incorporates psychedelic elements, to varying degrees. Stoner doom is often bass-heavy and makes much use of guitar/bass effects such as fuzz, phaser or flanger. Stoner doom could be viewed as the heavier and slower form of stoner rock, as the two styles emerged simultaneously. It was pioneered in the early–mid 1990s by bands such as Kyuss, Sleep, Acid King, Electric Wizard and Sons of Otis.

[edit] Sludge doom

Sludge doom (also known as sludge metal) is a style that combines doom metal and hardcore punk. Many sludge bands compose slow and heavy songs that contain brief hardcore passages.[2][3] However, some bands emphasise fast tempos throughout their music.[4] The string instruments are heavily distorted and are often played with large amounts of feedback to produce an abrasive, sludgy sound. 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 1990s by bands such as Eyehategod,[2] Crowbar,[3] Buzzov*en,[4] Acid Bath[5] and Grief.[6]

[edit] Funeral doom

Funeral doom is a style of doom metal that takes influence from both the death/doom and dark ambient genres. It is played at a very slow tempo[7] 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. Funeral doom was pioneered by Thergothon (Finland),[8][9] Skepticism (Finland),[10] Funeral (Norway) and Mordor (Switzerland).

[edit] Drone doom

Sunn O))) performing live.

Drone doom (also known as drone metal) 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. Typically, the electric guitar is performed with large amounts of reverb and feedback[11] while vocals, if present, are usually growled or screamed. Songs are often very long and lack beat or rhythm in the traditional sense. Drone doom is generally influenced by drone music,[11] noise music[11] and minimalist music.[11] The style emerged in the early 1990s and was pioneered by Earth,[12] Boris,[11] and Sunn O)))[11].

[edit] Death doom

Death doom (also known as doom death) 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.[13] The style emerged during the late 1980s and gained a certain amount of popularity during the 1990s.[13] It was pioneered by bands such as Autopsy, Winter,[14] Asphyx,[14] Disembowelment,[14] Paradise Lost,[14] and My Dying Bride.[14] Death doom subsequently gave rise to the gothic metal genre. Type O Negative is often mistaken for being a fusion of the gothic and doom/death metal genre.

[edit] Black doom

Black doom (also known as blackened doom metal) is a style that combines elements of black metal and doom 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. The early work of Bethlehem (Germany) and Barathrum (Finland) is generally regarded as the foundation of this style. Pure blackened doom bands are fairly rare, but Dolorian (Finland), Unholy (Finland), Ajattara (Finland), Forgotten Tomb (Italy), Nortt (Denmark) and Gallhammer (Japan)[15] have performed in this style.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Doom metal". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-07-21. 
  2. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Eyehategod". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-07-21. 
  3. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Crowbar". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-07-21. 
  4. ^ a b York, William. "Buzzov*en". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-07-21. 
  5. ^ York, William. "Acid Bath". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-06-21. 
  6. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Grief". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-06-21. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Encyclopaedia Metallum - Thergothon
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d e f John Wray, "Heady Metal", New York Times, May 28, 2006. [1] Access date: August 18, 2008.
  12. ^ Jason Jackowiak, Splendid, September 14, 2005. [2] Access date: August 23, 2008.
  13. ^ a b 'Doom Metal Special:Doom/Death' Terrorizer #142
  14. ^ a b c d e Purcell, Nathalie J. (2003). Death Metal Music: The Passion and Politics of a Subculture. McFarland & Company. pp. 23. ISBN 0786415851. 
  15. ^ Brandon Stosuy, "Show No Mercy", Pitchfork, August 29, 2007. [3]

[edit] External links

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