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July 1, 2014

10 of my Favourite Doom Metal Albums of All Time

Brutal Tunes

Candlemass - Nightfall

For a blog that’s supposed to be about metal, I haven’t actually been talking about music all that much lately. The reason is that I’m working on an epic post of my 101 top metal albums of all time, and it is slow going and research-heavy. But I thought I’d take a break from that today, and share another top ten list.

Doom Metal is one of those dividing genres; you either love it, or you hate it. To many people, most of the bands sound like poorly executed Black Sabbath ripoffs. But there are some masterful musicians creating some truly remarkable music, and I thought I’d highlight some of my favourite doom metal bands for you today.

1. Saint Vitus – Born Too Late

Saint Vitus - Born Too Late

Saint Vitus – Born Too Late

Of all the bands on this list, Saint Vitus could probably be accused of being the biggest Sabbath-worshippers. Luckily, I don’t believe in too much of a good thing. Naming themselves after a Sabbath song, they proceeded to create a debut album of doom-laden, Iommi-style riffs and leaden vocals at a time when the metal world was consumed with spandex and big hair. An essential album that influenced many that came after it.

2. Paradise Lost – Gothic

Paradise Lost - Gothic

Paradise Lost – Gothic

Following its 1991 release, Gothic instantly became a classic of both the doom metal and gothic metal genres. Paradise Lost introduce orchestral elements and a timeless sense of melody and composition to a genre dominated by fuzzy guitars and croaking vocals. Haunting, mesmerising and intricate, Gothic is an unquestionable masterpiece.

3. Solitude Aeturnus – Beyond the Crimson Horizon

Solitude Aeturnus - Beyond the Crimson Horizon

Solitude Aeturnus – Beyond the Crimson Horizon

Before becoming the lead singer of Candlemass, Robert Lowe was the man behind Texas’ Solitude Aeturnus, who take the title for being the most underrated doom metal band who ever released an album. Lowe’s vocals in particular shine on this album, from his piercing shriek to his deep, cavernous bellow. Solitude Aeturnus’ sound combines crushing doom with soaring, melodic power metal to create something beautiful and unique that has never really been repeated.

4. Electric Wizard –Come My Fanatics

Electric Wizard - Come My Fanatics

Electric Wizard – Come My Fanatics

With a name like Electric Wizard, you know you’re going to love ’em before you even hear a note. These Brits combine the elements of doom metal with some of their own musical lineage – the fuzzy, occult-worshipping atmosphere of 70s psychedelica. Although not as well-known as it’s follow-up, Dopethrone, I would argue that Come My Fanatics is even better – a solid, slow-burning headbang that will leave you wanting more. Many call it the heaviest album of the 90s, and I’d be inclined to agree.

5. Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth

Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth

Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth

Conceptually, this album deals with an often touchy subject within metal: the story of Christ – from his birth in “The Unnatural Conception in Two Parts: The Birth and the Massacre of the Innocents” (at 17 minutes, the song is even longer than its title), to his resurrection in “Removed of the Grave”. This is one of the best “Christian” metal records ever conceived; punishingly heavy and rich with texture and atmosphere. Paramaecium’s sound is part doom metal, part death metal, and all awesome.

6. Thergothon – Stream from the Heavens

Thergothon - Stream from the Heavens

Thergothon – Stream from the Heavens

These finnish metallers are responsible for pioneering the “funeral doom” sound – funeral doom being doom metal slowed down to a sombre, dirge-like pace. The songs hang in the air before you, heavy under their own weight. The plodding, crushing atmosphere of this record leaves you speechless, punctuated occasionally with ambient, lifting music, giving you hope before crushing it under the intensity of their dreaded, apocalyptic sorrow once again. This isn’t exactly an “easy” album to get into, but it will definitely leave an impression.

7. My Dying Bride – The Angel and the Dark River

My Dying Bride – The Angel and the Dark River

My Dying Bride – The Angel and the Dark River

Although pretty much every My Dying Bride album is amazing, The Angel and the Dark River is probably the first album where they really brought all the elements of their sound together in a fully-formed way. The violin work of Martin Powell becomes an integral part of the music, and Aaron Stainthorpe’s vocal vastly improve from the previous release, Turn Loose the Swans (which was going to be my second pick for this list). My Dying Bride perform a unique dance of death, the dynamics of their sound – the way the music soars, before returning to ambient silence – are what place them firmly as a classic and must-hear doom band.

8. Skepticism – Stormcrowsfleet

Skepticism - Stormcrowfleet

Skepticism – Stormcrowfleet

Can you tell I have a thing for funeral doom? Sketicism is the second prominent band in this subgenre to make this list so far. Stormcrowsfleet is simply the best funeral doom album ever. Period. No arguments. Every single second of glacial ambience drips with dread and despair. The keyboards entwine with every note, giving the whole record an ethereal, otherworldly quality. To me, this is not an album you can put on in the background while you do chores or play computer games. It’s an album requiring contemplation and complete immersion.

9. Type O Negative – October Rust

Type O Negative - October Rust

Type O Negative – October Rust

Type O Negative was the second doom band I ever heard; Pete Steele’s voice instantly memorising me. Another album mixing doom and gothic elements together, October Rust owes much of it’s rich, deep sound to early gothic acts like Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy. An insatiable dark wit runs through all the lyrics, accompanied by layered soundscapes of sinister desolation. An old goth friend once told me this was “the perfect album to commit suicide to,” which is a rather morbid thought but one, I think, Pete Steele might’ve got a kick out of.

10. Candlemass – Nightfall

Candlemass - Nightfall

Candlemass – Nightfall

Candlemass were the first doom metal band I heard, so I am biased when I say they remain my favourite doom metal band. I fell in love with Nightfall from the first note – this sweeping epic of dirge-like devastation draws you deeper with every song. While vocalist Messiah Marcolin definitely doesn’t look the part – between his afro hair and his hulk-like physique – his presence lifts the music beyond Candlemass’ previous release – already a doom classic – into the realms of true mastery. “At the Gallows End” is a flawless example of the power of doom metal to evoke emotion and create mood. This is one of those rare albums I would rate as “perfect”.

I have omitted many remarkable, haunting doom metal albums from this list (Trouble, Psalm 9 and Candlemass, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus immediately come to mind), due to space and time issues. Please list your favourites in the comments!

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5 Comments on “10 of my Favourite Doom Metal Albums of All Time

Rob
May 9, 2016 at 8:55 am

Born Too Late isn’t Saint Vitus’ debut, as it suggests your article. It’s their third album (the first with the Wino on vocals; the original singer on previous two records was Scott Reagers).

Rob
May 9, 2016 at 9:08 am

It’s an indispensable classic, though. From 1986.

steff
July 14, 2016 at 3:58 pm

@Rob. Oh, wow. You are of course completely right. How’d I get that wrong?

Jype
July 1, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Ah, doom metal is propably the sub-genre of metal that I can truly call “my own” more than any other. One of the reasons being the hopeless and depressive feeling of it. Doom metal is a very powerful genre and it’s very alive yet very underground at the same time. It’s probably the most mystical genre of music and there is something that appeals me in a very weird way. Doom metal is one of the few genres where it’s hard to find band who sold out or are in it for the money.

There’s three albums in your list that I would include in my own and those are Born Too Late, Come My Fanatics and Nightfall. Actually I thought I was the only person in the world to think that Come My Fanatics is better than Dopethrone! I haven’t heard the other seven albums on your list.

I don’t know if I can think of the 10 best doom metal albums, but here are some of the best:

Reverend Bizarre – II: Crush The Insects
The most legendary, the most influencal and simply the best finnish doom metal band ever. Very very underrated band and album. Their singer/bassist Albert Witchfinder has one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard. I consider Crush The Insects to be their best album, allthought all three and all the EPs are good. Sadly this band doesn’t exist anymore. But take a listen to this and you’ll see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zd8XWctW6Q

Witchfinder General – Death Penalty
Not exactly pure doom metal, but it’s one of the forefathers of the genre alongside Black Sabbath and Pentagram. This is the band that comes to my mind when I think about the word “mystical”. They did two great albums in the eighties and then they just disappeared for decades. In 2008 they returned to make their third album just to disappear again and they haven’t been heard of since. I consider their debut album Death Penalty to be their best one. It’s from the lighter and basic heavy metal-like side of doom metal. Very Black Sabbath-like. Just listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SKsysEU4oo

Pentagram – Pentagram
Like I mentioned, Pentagram are also one of the forefathers of doom metal and they are also from the more heavy metal-like side fo doom metal. They are still going strong after decades and they just got their original guitarist Victor Griffin back to the line-up. I actually had the privilige to see them live little over a month ago. Their singer Bobby Liebling also has one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard. Their debut album is their most powerful entirety, althought they have great songs on other albums too. Listen to this and you’ll see why they are called one of the pioneers of doom metal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1En8nhifu7c

Other albums I would include in my list of best doom metal albums are at least Candlemass’s first three albums, Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone and Reverend Bizarre’s In The Rectory of The Bizarre Reverend. Of course I still have many bands to listen to.

Also there are some great doom-style albums made by the newer generation:

Tombstoned – Tombstoned
Tombstoned is the band that resurrected my hope for finnish doom metal. With their stoner-influences and unique sound they created one of last year’s best debut albums. Very underrated band. Here’s a taste of what their album brings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgxvAjALMh4

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Blood Lust
You have probably heard of them, because they warmed up some of Black Sabbath’s European gigs last year. They have quickly risen from an underground-favorite to playing some bigger clubs all around the world. Their newest album Mind Control was kind of a let-down after their close-to-perfect second album called Blood Lust. They have a very occult rock-like sound and they aren’t the heaviest doom metal band in the world, I don’t know if their music can even be called purely doom metal, there’s lots of other influences too. Uncle Acid’s unique singing voice brings the final touch. Almost every one of this album’s song are instant classics, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPUVExV3sBQ

steff
July 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm

@JypeK – this is an awesome list. I am listening to Reverend Bizarre now (haven’t heard them before). You are correct – they are hideously underrated. I love a lot of the other albums you mention, including Uncle Acid’s “Blood Lust”, and Tombstoned. Good choices! I find you have to be really in the right mood to listen to doom metal. When I was at university and had a lot of trouble sleeping I would listen to an album as I was going to sleep. I ;ove your description of it as “mystical” – I think that’s definitely true.

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