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Doom metal is a subgenre of Heavy Metal that emerged in the late seventies/early eighties. It's slow, dark, depressing and pessimistic, and is characterised by a thicker guitar sound than other genres of metal. The music and lyrics are meant to evoke a sense of dread.
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 were the first 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, Pagan Altar, Trouble and Witchfinder General. Possibly the most influential of doom metal bands was Candlemass, who released their debut album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986. It was this album that marked doom metal as a genre to be reckoned with. It's also possibly where the name of the genre came from ("Doomicus Metallicus" = "Doom Metal"). During the eighties, doom metal was a deeply underground subgenre, metal being dominated commercially by Hair Metal and in the less-underground-than-doom-metal underground by Thrash Metal.
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".
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 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.
Although doom is not well-known in the mainstream, it's had quite a history.
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.)
- Black Pyramid
- Black Sabbath
- Cirith Ungol
- Count Raven
- Jex Thoth (evokes a very retro 60s-ish sound leaning towards Psychadelic, with lots of Hammond organ)
- Mael Mordha (fused doom with Celtic metal)
- My Dying Bride (Some of their work definitely fits into the genre.)
- The Obsessed
- Pagan Altar
- Reverend Bizarre
- Saint Vitus
- Solitude Aeturnus
- Solstice (specifically, the band from the UK; there's another band called Solstice from the United States that plays Death Metal)
- Type O Negative (more overtly Gothic Metal, but they have done work in this genre)
- Witchfinder General
As mentioned above, sludge metal is doom fused with hardcore punk, possibly with southern rock influences. Sludge metal is typically aggressive and abrasive, often featuring shouted vocals, heavily distorted instruments and sharply contrasting tempos. Later gave rise to the post-metal genre.
- Acid Bath
- Alice in Chains (Also Grunge and Alt Metal; mainly on their third album, although their earlier output has a bit of it)
- Burning Witch
- Buzzov* en
- Corrosion of Conformity
- Graves at Sea
- Harvey Milk
- High on Fire (fronted by the former guitarist of Sleep)
- Iron Monkey
- Mastodon (generally seen as more of a Progressive Metal band)
- The Melvins (also counted as Grunge and Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly)
- Soilent Green (also counted as Deathgrind)
- Thoughts Of Ionesco
- Trenches (also counted as Christian Metalcore)
- Unearthly Trance
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, stoner metal is slower and heavier), but there's enough overlap that bands of both genres can be listed here.
- Acid King
- Camel of Doom
- Electric Wizard
- Fu Manchu
- Goblin Cock
- Grand Magus
- High on Fire
- Kyuss (Trope Maker along with Sleep)
- Monster Magnet
- Orange Goblin
- Queens of the Stone Age (the first two albums and the occasional song thereafter)
- Sleep (Trope Maker along with Kyuss)
- Sons of Otis
- Stinking Lizaveta (A jazzy/psychedelic edge that makes them a little harder to classify, but definitely Stoner Metal at core)
- The Sword
- Witch (a side project by Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis)
As described above, this is what happens when sludge metal is fused with post-rock. 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.
- Battle of Mice
- Cult of Luna
- Giant Squid
- Godflesh (some of their work fits roughly within the genre)
- Isis (Trope Codifier)
- Made Out of Babies
- Mouth of the Architect
- Neurosis (Trope Maker)
- Old Man Gloom
- The Other Side of the Sky
- Russian Circles
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. 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 modelled 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 doom taken Up to Eleven; it's minimalistic and brutal, and extremely creepy.
- Black Boned Angel
- Boris (only on some albums, though)
- Earth (Trope Maker, probable Ur Example)
- Sunn O))) (Trope Codifier)
- Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine
Evolving from death/doom (particularly due to the death/doom band Disembowelment), funeral doom can be described as "death/doom Up to Eleven". 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.
- Depressed Mode (First album; afterwards they became "symphonic death/doom".)
- Disembowelment (Not truly a part of the subgenre, but heavily influential in its formation.)
- Esoteric (Mixed with psychedelic elements.)
- Funeral (Trope Namer, though only their early material was funeral doom; later work is straight-up doom with some gothic tendencies.)
- The Funeral Orchestra
- Mournful Congregation
- Shape of Despair
- Skepticism (Trope Codifier)
- Thergothon (Trope Maker, possible Ur Example if you exclude Disembowelment.)
- Until Death Overtakes Me (The guy behind this project has twelve others, variably related to Doom: Beyond Black Void, Fall Of The Grey-Winged One, Dreams Of Dying Stars etc and plays bass in In Somnis too.)
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. Often overlaps with Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal.
- Barathrum (early)
- Beatrik (later)
- Dolorian (lots of experimental/psychedelic sounds)
- Forgotten Tomb
- Gallhammer (only some of their material)
- Katatonia (early)
- Nocturnal Depression
- The Ruins of Beverast
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:
- 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.
- Despair Event Horizon - Funeral doom.
- Drone of Dread: Drone metal is all about this, but it also shows up in other subgenres.
- Epic Rocking: More often than not.
- 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.
- Genre Roulette: Some experimental rock/metal bands loosely associated with doom, like Boris and Melvins, are prone to this.
- Leave the Camera Running - Quite common, especially in drone, funeral doom and sludge.
- Trope Maker - The actual creation of doom metal as a genre can be blamed on a few bands, including Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Trouble and Witchfinder General.
- 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.