|Stylistic Origins||Heavy metal|
|Cultural Origins||Mid-1980s, Northern Europe and United States|
|Typical Instruments||electric guitar − bass − drums − vocals|
|Mainstream Popularity||Minimal, with dedicated fanbases mostly in Northern Europe and United States|
|Derivative Forms||Gothic metal|
Doom metal is a extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that emerged as a recognized form that who during the first half of the 1980s. Generally, doom metal features very slow tempos, low-tuned guitars and a much "denser" or "heavier" sound than other metal genres. Both the music and the lyrics intend to evoke a sense of dread or impending doom, and often an atmosphere of despair.
Musically, doom metal is strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath. A number of their early songs, such as "Black Sabbath" and "Into the Void" are considered embryonic or prototypical doom metal songs. Their third album, Master of Reality (released in 1971), features Tony Iommi's guitar and Geezer Butler's bass tuned down to C# for heavier riffing and reduced string tension for Iommi's previously injured fingers.
Guitars, bass guitars, and drums are the most common instruments used to play doom metal. Heavy, down-tuned guitar riffing and power chords are considered an important feature within almost all of its sub-genres. Some doom metal uses keyboards occasionally. Traditional doom metal bands tend to prefer clean vocals, often patterned off Ozzy Osbourne's on early Black Sabbath recordings or operatic vocals, like Candlemass' former singer Messiah Marcolin or Solitude Aeturnus' Robert Lowe. Doom bands with extreme metal influences tend to favor the growls, shrieks, and screams common in death metal, black metal, and thrash metal. Some sludge bands incorporate the harsh strained vocal style commonly found in hardcore and crust. Fast tempos are relatively rare; slow tempos are one of the defining technical characteristics of doom metal. However, some bands make use of faster drum beats--including occasional blast beats. diSEMBOWELMENT often uses this technique, incorporating brutal death metal in their approach to doom metal. A number of doom metal bands, such as My Dying Bride or Funeral, have made use of violins in their music. Despite the outliers, doom metal remains a guitar-oriented genre of heavy music.
Lyrics in doom metal play a very important role, often accentuating its moody and dark atmosphere or creating an ever-present epic feel. In general, lyrics by doom metal bands mostly present a pessimistic view of the world and life, but the approach depends and varies from one band to another. Usually, lyrical themes deal with despair, loss, depression, death, paranoia, anger, melancholy and various other negative aspects. Many bands such as Saint Vitus, Penance, Anathema or Katatonia for example often wrote lyrics in quite introspective, personal ways, while many others such as, Candlemass, Morgion or Esoteric prefer abstract, mythological, religious and/or fantasy symbolism. Various bands from Pentagram to Thergothon and others took some inspiration from horror literature or movies.
Religious themes are very common in doom metal. Bands as Trouble incorporated Christian imagery in doom metal which will be accepted by most of traditional acts, not as a belief, but for aesthetic and symbolic purposes. Individualism is often a main point in lyrics of doom bands rather than belief, so many of them also share interests for the occult and mysticism and use them aesthetically.
As for early Black Sabbath, political themes were always present in the genre, but Swedish traditional doom act Count Raven was one of the first doom bands which wrote social lyrics about war, corruption and injustice in an explicit way. Political and social themes are most present in sludge/doom bands because of their roots or influences from the hardcore/punk scene. Some other bands with social related lyrics outside of traditional and sludge/doom include early death/doom band Winter, while later death/doom bands mostly followed the romantic, poetic-styled direction set by bands like early My Dying Bride and Anathema.
Also, various bands such as Witchfinder General, Cathedral or Reverend Bizarre often wrote lyrics with a sense of humor and irony. Many doom bands took inspiration from experiences with drugs such as Electric Wizard or Esoteric - a similar approach to stoner rock bands, but with an important difference - without a "feelgood" connotation prevalent in stoner rock, but with a dark, paranoid and apocalyptic feel.
History of doom metal
Doom metal is among the oldest forms of heavy metal, rooted in the music of early Black Sabbath, who are one of the first heavy metal bands. Their music is rooted in blues, but with the specific loud guitar playing of 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. 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.
From the late 1970s to mid 1980s, bands such as Trouble, Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Pentagram and Witchfinder General contributed much to the formation of doom metal as a distinct genre. Some US acts such as Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road also influenced the rise of the style, especially its epic side which Candlemass defined on their classic, debut album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.
During the 1980s, doom metal was deeply underground and gathered only small circles of cult-following fans. In the 1980s, metal was dominated by speed and thrash metal, and in many commercial areas by glam and "stadium-anthem" pseudo-metal bands. 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. Bands such as Trouble established the use of Christian imagery and themes in the lyrical side of doom metal which led these bands to be misinterpreted and alienated amongst some metalheads. It should be noted that although Trouble were Christian, many of the later doom bands weren't. However, many of them, such as Candlemass or Saint Vitus and Paradise Lost still embraced elements of Christian imagery, not as a religious viewpoint, but as a lyrical symbolism for themes they deal with in their lyrics such as pain and suffering. Doom metal remained more or less underground at this point.
Doom metal developed further in the early 1990s. The most influential doom metal band from the early 1990s to the present was Cathedral (a band led by ex Napalm Death singer Lee Dorrian). Their debut album Forest of Equilibrium (1991) was rooted in traditional doom, yet opened the door for the incorporation of elements from other genres. Besides Cathedral, a whole wave of influential doom bands followed during the early 1990s including Solitude Aeturnus, Count Raven, The Obsessed, Penance, Sleep, Revelation, Confessor, The 3rd and the Mortal etc. Underground labels who most supported the scene in these years were Germany's Hellhound Records and Rise Above (owned by Lee Dorrian).
Cathedral's debut album, Forest of Equilibrium, was very important in the development of doom metal, helping to expand its sound by incorporating elements of other genres. There soon followed a large number of bands who crossed doom with other styles. A few of these bands gained more popularity than classic doom metal bands.
A few death metal bands crossed the doom metal border by slowing down their playing style, including Sorrow and early Paradise Lost. A number of bands began to combine the doom metal style with influences from death metal, other forms of extreme metal, and even hardcore. The first band who mixed doom with death metal may have been Winter, although this style, known as death/doom, later became associated with and made popular within the wider metal scene by three British bands: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Anathema.
Although classic doom metal and death/doom have remained central, during the 1990s the doom metal genre cross pollinated with other styles. In the early 1990s European bands such as Thergothon and Funeral moved death/doom to the extreme. With a much slower interpretation of death/doom, their music took on a new dimension similar to the ethereal atmosphere of dark ambient music. This utterly slow and often very dark style is now known as funeral doom. At the same time, American bands like Crowbar and Eyehategod mixed doom metal with significant hardcore and even punk influences, forming another new faction within the doom metal scene: sludge doom. It should be noted that 80s band The Melvins made a huge impact on the above mentioned sludge doom bands. Also, the band Earth pioneered drone doom, the slowest and the most psychedelic form of doom.
That experimentation continued, and today there are many bands who mix their basic doom metal sound with various styles like ambient, avantgarde, death metal, black metal, post-rock, folk, progressive metal, progressive rock, crust punk and even industrial and jazz.
Today, the original brand of doom metal with melodic vocals is usually labeled "traditional doom". From the late 1990s to the present, another wave of traditional-based doom metal has emerged, mostly due to the success of bands such as the British Electric Wizard, and the Finnish Reverend Bizarre. Other bands include Orodruin, The Gates of Slumber, While Heaven Wept, Warning, Solstice and Mirror of Deception.
Alternative metal • Avant-garde metal • Black metal • Christian metal • Crossover thrash • Death metal • Doom metal • Extreme metal • Folk metal • Glam metal