Doom metal


Doom metal is a form of heavy metal that emerged as a recognised subgenre in the mid-1980s. It is slow and heavy and intended to evoke an atmosphere of darkness, despair and melancholy. It is very strongly influenced by the early work of Black Sabbath, and a number of early Black Sabbath tracks, such as "Black Sabbath", are often considered embryonic or prototypical doom metal songs.


History of doom metal

Although in the the beginning of the 1970s both Black Sabbath and the American Pentagram performed a kind of music that can be considered proto-doom, neither band is generally considered as an actual doom metal band. From the late 1970s to mid 1980s, bands such as Trouble, Saint Vitus and Witchfinder General contributed much to the formation of doom metal as a distinct genre. The form of music played by these artists can be described as being rooted in both the music of Black Sabbath and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, especially the band Witchfinder General. The slowness of their music is often also seen as a reaction to the constantly increasing speed of contemporary thrash metal and speed metal. Doom metal first became widely popular with Sweden's Candlemass, who are hailed in the mainstream metal press as one of the most important and influential doom metal bands; their 1986 album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is considered a genre-defining release (at least within the epic subgenre of doom metal). According to the proponents of the classic doom metal style, the most descriptive doom band would be Saint Vitus, who released their self-titled debut album in 1984 - two years before doom metal as a genre was recognised in the mainstream metal press.

Doom metal developed further in the early 1990s, when a number of bands started combining the slow, melancholic, doom metal style that was pioneered in the 1980s with influences from death metal and other forms of extreme metal, including growled vocals. The first band to combine these styles may have been the heavily Celtic Frost-influenced Winter, although this style is generally associated with and made popular within mainstream heavy metal by three British bands: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. Nowadays, the original brand of doom metal with clean vocals is usually labelled "classic doom", whereas the later developed styles which involve growled vocals are commonly called "death/doom", more recently even "nu-doom".

During the 1990s the doom metal genre developed further styles, although classic doom and death/doom have remained central to the present. A number of bands, such as The Gathering and Theatre Of Tragedy took the music of Paradise Lost, got rid of some of the slowness and started experimenting with female vocals*, thereby helping to create the generally more accessible genre of gothic metal. Although this genre is generally considered to be influenced by doom metal, it is not usually considered a subgenre of doom metal: certain elements, such as the slowness and the emphasis on heavy riffing, are often absent. However, other bands emphasised doom metal's distinctive features and created extreme subgenres such as funeral doom and drone doom, pioneered by Thergothon and Earth respectively.

A connection has often been made between doom metal and stoner metal, although each of the two genres developed on its own. The stoner metal (or rock) of bands like Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Age shares with doom metal a heavy sound and a strong Black Sabbath influence, but generally has a different objective: whereas doom metal aims for melancholy and sadness, stoner metal aims for a groovy and psychedelic sound. A number of doom metal bands, however, such as (later) Cathedral and Electric Wizard, have combined doom metal with psychedelic influences, thereby creating a style which can be considered a hybrid form of doom metal and stoner rock.

*It should be noted, however, that Paradise Lost themselves made some use of female vocals on their second album, Gothic, in 1990.


Like most kinds of metal, doom metal is typically based on vocals, guitar, bass guitar and drums, and heavy guitar riffing is considered an essential part of almost all of its subgenres. A large number of doom metal bands, especially newer bands, use keyboards as well; in classic doom, however, keyboards are still relatively uncommon. A number of doom-influenced gothic metal bands such as My Dying Bride or Funeral have also made use of violins.

Stylistic divisions within doom metal

Traditional doom

Slow, melancholic, riff-based metal influenced by Black Sabbath as well as the NWOBHM movement. Typical examples: Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Reverend Bizarre, Solstice, Warning, Solomon Kane. A significant borderline case are (early) Cathedral, who are considered a traditional doom metal act by some and one of the originators of the modern death/doom sound by others. Four "waves" have so far been recognised in the history of traditional doom: the first one started with the originators of the entire genre, the proto-doom bands Black Sabbath and Pentagram; the second one has been located in the mid-80s, especially in the work of Saint Vitus; the third one started with the success of Cathedral's debut album Forest of Equilibrium; the fourth one has recently been affiliated with Reverend Bizarre.


A mixture of death metal with some influences from the classic doom metal sound. Typical examples: Winter, Unholy, (early) Paradise Lost, (early) My Dying Bride, (early) Anathema, (early) Katatonia, Disembowelment (with some other influences). A significant borderline case are (early) Cathedral, who are considered a traditional doom metal act by some and one of the originators of the modern death/doom sound by others.

Funeral doom

Funeral doom is an even slower and more basic version of doom death. Funeral bands take the slowness of doom metal to an extreme and emphasize on an atmosphere of despair and emptiness. Pioneers of this style were Thergothon, Skepticism, and Funeral, and modern examples include Shape of Despair, Stabat Mater, Mournful Congregation, and Until Death Overtakes Me.

Drone doom

A style which is even more basic than funeral doom, drone doom is generally influenced by noise and ambient. Vocals and even drums are often absent, and the music often lacks any beat or rhythm in the traditional sense. Heavy use of feedback is also typical. Like funeral doom, drone doom typically emphasizes despair and emptiness. Innovator Stephen O'Malley, heavily influenced by Earth, can be largely credited with the creation of drone doom as a recognised subgenre, being or having been involved with seminal acts such as Burning Witch, Sunn O))) and Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine. Typical examples: Sunn O))), Earth, Khanate.

Stoner doom

A hybrid form of doom metal and stoner rock. Typical examples: (late) Cathedral, Sleep, Unearthly Trance, Grand Magus. A significant borderline case are Electric Wizard, who confusingly balance between traditional doom (according to themselves), stoner doom (according to the press), and sludge doom.

Atmospheric doom

An often less heavy and generally more melodic kind of doom metal, often with female vocals. Typical examples: (late) My Dying Bride, The 3rd And The Mortal, Avrigus, and The Gathering.

Sludge doom

Combining the thick, riffing sound of stoner doom with the raw abrasiveness and shrieked vocals of hardcore, sludge is at the outer limits of doom metal and is an acquired taste (although a couple of bands, such as Eyehategod and Crowbar, are fairly well known within the metal community). Even though many sludge bands sport the "booze 'n' bongs" image synonymous with stoner rock, they lack the stoner rockers' positive outlook on life. Typical examples: Eyehategod, Crowbar, Grief.

Industrial doom

An offshoot of various doom-metal genres (mostly doom/death) and sludge, but based on the industrial sounds of bands such as early Godflesh, Skin Chamber and early Swans. It is characterised by heavy use of electronic sounds, such as samples or pounding drum machines, with the more traditional guitar on top. It is mostly atonal and dissonant, and usually avoids melody. Typical examples: Zaraza, Wraith of the Ropes, Philistine.

List of bands

See list of Doom Metal bands

Related topics


External links

nl:Doom metal pl:Doom metal pt:Doom metal sv:Doom metal


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