The History Of Doom Metal Part One

Written by: Aristarchos
Published: 21.12.2012
After seeing articles about history of other genres, but none of doom metal, I decided to write one on my own. Doom metal is a very diverse genre and I can not describe the entire history chronologically, rather I describe it sub-genre for sub-genre and band for band in each sub-genre. I have divided it in three different parts:

1. Traditional and epic doom, bands more directly influenced by Black Sabbath.
2. Extreme doom. Here I included everything that was influenced by Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, although many of the bands turned to a quite non-extreme sound.
3. Alternative doom. With this I mean the genres mainly influenced by Black Flag's My War and Melvins.

I will in some cases express my own personal positives views about bands I like, so it could work as recommendations, but I won't say anything negative about a band's music that I don't understand.

Traditional and Epic Doom Metal

In 1969 four young men from Birmingham, England, would compose a song that would change music for all time. The four men had formed one year earlier as Earth, and now changed their name to Black Sabbath, and the song they were going to write was going to have the same name as the band.

"Black Sabbath" is arguably the first song that could be called doom metal. Black Sabbath has themselves said this was the song that laid the groundwork for the entire Black Sabbath sound. It consists of a riff which contains a diminished fifth, an interval that is often described as diabolus in musica, because it sounds satanic, and would later often become used in doom metal. Black Sabbath has also mentioned that this song was partly influenced by the classical work "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets. The song was released one year after it was written, on their ground-breaking debut Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath is often considered as the first metal album ever, although the blues and jazz influences are clearly present.

The same year as their debut, Black Sabbath would release their second album Paranoid. Paranoid continued their path to a doomy sound, with less of a blues influence, although none of the songs was equally doomy as "Black Sabbath". The album contains a song called "Hand Of Doom", which is sometimes mentioned as the song that gave the genre its name. If that is so, I have no knowledge of.

The next year, 1971, Black Sabbath would release their next album Master Of Reality. It is often considered as Black Sabbath's heaviest album, mostly because of the song "Into The Void", but is also faster and less doomier than its predecessors, and is often described as going in a more stoner-oriented direction. On the next albums Black Sabbath started experimenting more, and distanced themselves more from their doom sound.

Enough with Black Sabbath now, and let's move on to the next band influential for the doom metal genre. The US band Pentagram is by many considered as the true pioneer of doom metal. They were formed as early as in 1971, consisting of the vocalist Bobby Liebling as the only constant member. They didn't release any album until 1985, so other doom metal bands were earlier releasing albums, but they released three singles the years 1972-1973 and several demos in the 1970's. They have been mentioned as a big influence for many later bands. These early recordings have later been released on CD on different compilations. Out of their full lengths their first three albums, Pentagram (1985; later re-named Relentless), Day Of Reckoning (1987) and Be Forewarned (1994) are often considered as their best. The band is still active today.

In 1978 an American band called Sorcery released their album Sinister Soldiers, often described as proto-doom metal. Although only on the border to doom, this band is sadly overlooked, since I find that album really brilliant and highly recommended, and I hope this band will some day experience a renaissance like many other of the early doom metal bands have done. Sorcery released a second album two years later and than split.

Cirith Ungol is another American band often associated with doom metal. Formed in 1972, they released their debut album Frost And Fire in 1980. Frost And Fire was more 70's hard rock/metal than doom, but their second album King Of The Dead, released in 1984, was way heavier and way doomier, including influences from progressive rock. Yet, during the same time other bands would do music that was way doomier than Cirith Ungol. Cirith Ungol would release two more albums in similar style before they split.

In the early 80's the punk-influenced new wave of British heavy metal scene was the big thing in metal in England, and few cared about doom, but there were two bands who played in the genre: Pagan Altar and Witchfinder General.

Pagan Altar was formed in 1978. They recorded their debut album in 1982 but since the climate for doom metal at that time wasn't good they didn't manage to release it officially in the 1980's. Instead they released it themselves on cassette, named Pagan Altar, and the band soon split. The cassette was bootlegged and became wide-spread, then in the late 90's - internet has a lot to be thanked for here - the album was so wide-spread and popular, so a record company showed interest in re-releasing the album on CD, which was done in 1998 under the title Volume 1. The album is more melodic than most other traditional doom metal, and is often described as doom/NWOBHM.

After the album was re-released Pagan Altar re-formed and released the album Lords Of Hypocrisy, consisting of songs written in the 1980's which was meant for a follow-up back then. Lords Of Hypocrisy is heavier and more doomier than their debut album, and is my personal favourite doom metal album in all categories, so highly recommended (which their debut also is). Pagan Altar has also released a third album Mythical And Magical in 2006, which was less heavy, and more folk rock influenced, and has recorded a new album this year.

Witchfinder General was formed in 1979. In 1982 they released both their debut EP Soviet Invasion and their debut album Death Penalty. Death Penalty is often mentioned as the first doom metal album ever. Just like Pagan Altar they are often labelled as doom/NWOBHM, and didn't receive much fame in the 80's. They released another album, Friends Of Hell, in 1983 before they split. Both albums are recommended. In 2006 they re-formed and released one more album in 2008, but they have said that they won't tour again.

In the USA two new bands appeared that really helped to define doom as a genre, and they were going to become two of the most influential bands for the genre: Trouble and Saint Vitus.

Trouble was formed in 1979. They released their debut album originally named Trouble, but later re-named and more known as Psalm 9. Psalm 9 was the most doomy album the world had heard at that time, along with Saint Vitus' eponymous debut released the same year, and these are the albums that I think really defined doom metal as a genre. Psalm 9 is still one of my personal favourite doom metal albums. Trouble's early sound has been described as a mix of Black Sabbath's tempo and riffs and Judas Priest's twin guitar attack, but the lyrics were often dealing with Christianity, why they were sometimes labeled as "white metal". It is said that Metallica after a concert with Trouble entered the stage to try to figure out how their amplifiers were set to produce such a heavy sound.

Trouble released two more albums in the same genre before they started to experimenting more with psychedelic influences with their 1990 release, also called Trouble, and even more with their 1992 release Mainc Frustration, which was faster and not as heavy as their 80's releases. Their newer sound is often described as stoner metal, and in the early 90's they even had some minor commercial success. They have later released two more albums. Nowadays they exist in two versions. The one including their classic singer Eric Wagner is touring under the name The Skull.

Saint Vitus was formed in 1978 and released their eponymous debut in 1984. What differentiates Saint Vitus from other early doom bands is their punk/hardcore influence, which especially become significantly on their second album "Hallow's Victim" and would later influence the sludge genre. They would release another five albums before their split in 1996. On their third album Born Too Late they got a new singer Scott "Wino" Weinberg, who come from another classic doom metal band, The Obsessed.

The Obsessed was formed in 1976 and was active to 1986 when "Wino" joined Saint Vitus . During this period they released three demos, the first in 1980, but no album. When "Wino" quit Saint Vitus in 1990 he re-formed The Obsessed, and they released three albums before they once again split in 1995. "Wino" had later played with the more stoner-oriented bands Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand.

Now over to the Swedish doom metal scene, which was started by the bands Mercy and Nemesis.

Mercy was formed in 1980. They released their first EP in 1982 and an eponymous debut album in 1984. These recordings are often described more as traditional heavy metal, but on their second full length Witchburner, they turned to a heavier and more doomy Trouble-influenced sound. Mercy is probably best known for their singer Messiah Mercolin, who later would sing with doomsters Memento Mori, but first joined Candlemass for their second album Nightfall, released in 1987, after he had left Mercy when the other members didn't want to continue in the doom-direction. Mercy continued releasing albums in a non doom-style.

Candlemass was formed in 1984 by the bassist Leif Edling after his former band Nemesis disbanded. Nemesis only released one EP Day Of Retribution, in 1984, but Candlemass would have a more successful career, and is probably the band most associated with the doom genre. Debuting with their classic album Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986, they started a new sub-genre called epic doom, named after the album. The main difference between epic doom and traditional doom is the vocals, which are more operatic in epic than in traditional doom metal. It is a popular belief this album gave name to the entire doom genre, but according to some sources I have read, the term was already used earlier for describing the music of Witchfinder General.

With Messiah on vocals Candlemass would release three albums in the 80's but when he left the band in 1991, the popularity of the band would go down, releasing three more albums in the 90's. Leif Edling would also come to form the more progressive doom metal band Abstrakt Algebra and later Krux, releasing three albums so far. In 2001 Candlemass reformed with the classic line-up from "Nightfall", releasing one successful album. With a new singer, Robert Lowe, they have yet released another three albums.

Robert Lowe is also singing in Solitude Aeturnus, which is the most famous of Candlemass' followers in the epic doom metal genre. Debuting in 1991, they have released several albums. Other notable acts that would follow in the epic doom metal genre includes Forsaken, Isole and Solstice.

When we have been into the Swedish doom metal scene, Count Raven also deserves a mention. Releasing four albums in the 90's, they played a very Black Sabbath-influenced form of doom.

But now let's move on to Italy for a short while. The Italian doom scene isn't that famous, but they had two early doom acts: Black Hole, releasing one album Land Of Mystery in 1985, and Paul Chain, who would release several albums, the first in 1986.

On the other side of the metal spectrum from doom metal lies grindcore. Coming from the English grindcore legends Napalm Death, Lee Dorrian changed musical direction and started his doom metal band Cathedral in 1989. Their first album Forest Of Equilibrium was released in 1991. Influenced from the classic doom metal bands, it was more extreme than any of the traditional doom bands, containing some influences from death metal, especially in the vocals (although the album didn't sound like what many associate with death doom), but also containing some folk influences. On later albums they won't have any death influences, though, but a more groovy sound, often labelled as stoner metal.

In the 2000's there was a revival for traditional doom metal with many new bands, many of them would combine doom metal with heavy metal. These acts includes Reverend Bizarre, The Gates Of Slumber, Grand Magus, Hour Of 13, Witchcraft, Jex Thoth and Heaven And Hell. The last one of them is, as I guess you all know, a reunion of Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio on vocals and Vinnie Appice on drums. Finnish Reverend Bizarre is the most full-out doom band of these. Witchcraft is on this site labelled as stoner, but is often labelled as traditional doom otherwise, although not as heavy as most other doom acts. They started off as a tribute band to Bobby Liebling in Pentagram, which says something of how they sound. Jex Thoth is another less heavy band, mixing 70's metal with psychedelic influences, and is fronted by probably one of the coolest women in metal.

In my opinion, the most interesting new doom metal band in the 00's was Warning. They aren't really new, since they were formed in 1993 and debuted in 1999, but it is their second album Watching From A Distance from 2006 that is often considered as their masterpiece. They developed their unique sound, which is slower than other traditional and epic doom metal, and is among the most emotional music I have heard. I have seen people calling it funeral doom, but except for the slow tempos it has nothing to do with funeral doom. Personally I think they started a new sub-genre of doom, which I personally call emotive doom. Sadly the band split after this album, but vocalist Patrick Walker would form a new band, 40 Watt Sun, who would come to release one, also great, album in 2011, The Inside Room.

A band that also could be mentioned here is Italian DoomSword, who combines doom metal with power metal. There are also other new epic doom metal bands coming out, including Altar Of Oblivion and Briton Rites.

The second part, dealing with the extreme doom metal scene will be coming soon...


 
Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.




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Draugen - 22.12.2012 at 17:49  
Seeing as doom metal is one of my favorite genres, mainly due to the sheer diversity it offers, I really enjoyed reading this article.

I am looking forward to the next part.
Aristarchos - 22.12.2012 at 19:22  
Written by Draugen on 22.12.2012 at 17:49

Seeing as doom metal is one of my favorite genres, mainly due to the sheer diversity it offers, I really enjoyed reading this article.

I am looking forward to the next part.

Thanks!
Tiago Rocha - 23.12.2012 at 21:57  
Aristarchos - 29.12.2012 at 20:44  
Written by Guest on 29.12.2012 at 19:19

Also looking foward to the extreme doom one. Nice article, i haven't ventured that much into the pioneers other than Saint Vitus, will definitely use this article as a guide..

Thanks! The extreme doom part is already published here: http://www.metalstorm.net/pub/article.php?article_id=1244. Hopefully the third part will be published soon too.
Bad English - 30.12.2012 at 17:08  
It is nice how a member pay attention to home lamd doom ... Count Raven, even underground but stillk big name in doom and it woukld be nice if you would write article about trad doom nowdays
I read it because of resepct of fellow metalstormer, but there no news to me I know all this

all about influences
NocturnalStalker - 02.01.2013 at 05:30  
Great article. I thought it wasn't fair that there wasn't any article on the history of doom metal, which is my favourite metal sub-genre. So thanks!

P.S. Oh, by the way, a couple of minor corrections:
Quote:
with their 1992 release Mainc Frustration

I think it's Manic Frustration.
And...
Quote:
they got a new singer Scott "Wino" Weinberg

It should be Weinrich.
Aristarchos - 04.01.2013 at 14:00  
Written by NocturnalStalker on 02.01.2013 at 05:30

Great article. I thought it wasn't fair that there wasn't any article on the history of doom metal, which is my favourite metal sub-genre. So thanks!

P.S. Oh, by the way, a couple of minor corrections:
Quote:
with their 1992 release Mainc Frustration

I think it's Manic Frustration.
And...
Quote:
they got a new singer Scott "Wino" Weinberg

It should be Weinrich.

Thanks for the corrections! Of course you're right. Since I'm not among the staff I'm not allowed to do any changes in the article, though.
Aristarchos - 04.01.2013 at 14:09  
Written by Bad English on 30.12.2012 at 17:08

It is nice how a member pay attention to home lamd doom ... Count Raven, even underground but stillk big name in doom and it woukld be nice if you would write article about trad doom nowdays
I read it because of resepct of fellow metalstormer, but there no news to me I know all this

all about influences

I guess all trad doom (apart from Sabbath) more or less could be considered underground bands. And about modern trad doom; I mentioned some words in the end of the article about some more recent bands. My favourites of them are Witchcraft an dJex Thoth. None of them are that heavy, but what I like about them is that they are focusing more on writing good songs instead of just trying to be as heavy as possible. About other more recent trad doom bands I'm not sure how many there are. I heard an album with Witchsorrow, not sure if there was something special about them. If you want tips for recent trad doom band I guess the best way is to ask Marcel.
Aristarchos - 04.01.2013 at 14:10  
Written by Guest on 29.12.2012 at 19:24

Hehe, am curios to see how you'll handle the true doom issue if you decide to..

What do you mean by "true doom issue"?
Aristarchos - 04.01.2013 at 14:12  
Written by Guest on 29.12.2012 at 19:19

Also looking foward to the extreme doom one. Nice article, i haven't ventured that much into the pioneers other than Saint Vitus, will definitely use this article as a guide..

I could also say that Saint Vitus is my least favourite band of the more classic trad doom bands. I guess they are the trad doom band that will appeal most to fans of punk/hardcore, but since I'm not a big fan of hardcore, I prefer Pagan Altar, Trouble, Pentagram and Witchfinder General.
Aristarchos - 04.01.2013 at 14:15  
Written by Bad English on 30.12.2012 at 17:08

I read it because of resepct of fellow metalstormer, but there no news to me I know all this

all about influences

When I did the research for this article I at least found two old bands I didn't know of earlier, the two Italian 80's bands. Perhaps you already knew them, but I didn't. I don't know if there were anything special about any of them, but I thought it was fun to mention them.
Bad English - 04.01.2013 at 14:18  
Written by Aristarchos on 04.01.2013 at 14:09

Written by Bad English on 30.12.2012 at 17:08

It is nice how a member pay attention to home lamd doom ... Count Raven, even underground but stillk big name in doom and it woukld be nice if you would write article about trad doom nowdays
I read it because of resepct of fellow metalstormer, but there no news to me I know all this

all about influences

I guess all trad doom (apart from Sabbath) more or less could be considered underground bands. And about modern trad doom; I mentioned some words in the end of the article about some more recent bands. My favourites of them are Witchcraft an dJex Thoth. None of them are that heavy, but what I like about them is that they are focusing more on writing good songs instead of just trying to be as heavy as possible. About other more recent trad doom bands I'm not sure how many there are. I heard an album with Witchsorrow, not sure if there was something special about them. If you want tips for recent trad doom band I guess the best way is to ask Marcel.


Im doomster even last 2 years I dont follow so much anymore to metal, I mean I have no time for do it so but I k now a lot of bands and well I would say all doom is underground , most underground metal genre
Whitchinder General, Pagan Altar is more know nowdays how in those days , Pentagram, St Vitus, Obsessed always was cult bands , nowdays Wino is sortha cult figure
Count Raven still is underground so
Aristarchos - 05.01.2013 at 12:56  
Written by Guest on 04.01.2013 at 17:10

the debate that trad/epic doom is the purest and 'truest' doom and that the other subgenres of doom eg goth n death doom are 'false' doom. And a while back some trad doom bands formed the Circle Of True Doom to preserve and further doom metal, the reason they ignored bands from the other subgenres is baffling.... And also if you have checked the lyrics to goddess of doom, Reverend Bizarre pay homage to trad/epic doom bands ONLY.

Personally I hate the debate of what is true/false. For me it's all different forms of doom. The same about all discussions about true/false metal in general, and true/false black metal.
Aristarchos - 11.09.2013 at 11:42  
I also found the band Stillborn from Sweden, who in 1989 released one album, Necrospirituals, with a gothic element, and could therefore be considered the first gothic metal band. Unlike most other gothic metal bands, they came from a more traditional doom metal background and not from death doom. They released two more albums.
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.09.2013 at 17:40  
Written by Aristarchos on 11.09.2013 at 11:42

I also found the band Stillborn from Sweden, who in 1989 released one album, Necrospirituals, with a gothic element, and could therefore be considered the first gothic metal band. Unlike most other gothic metal bands, they came from a more traditional doom metal background and not from death doom. They released two more albums.


I don't get where you hear that gothic element in Necrospirituals. Pure traditional doom with some epic elements to it, nothing gothic about it.
Fritillaria - 11.09.2013 at 17:53  
Wow I didn't know that THERE were many other pioneers before Candlemass and Paradise Lost (actually besides Black Sabbath) , always thought they were the first ones and then Anathema, Mourning Beloveth and My Dying Bride ( and other ones which I can't remember all of them at the moment) improved the genre,and actually it's not a long time that I come to know Officium Triste,but they were playing the same genre for quite long time.
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.09.2013 at 18:11  
Written by Fritillaria on 11.09.2013 at 17:53

...,and actually it's not a long time that I come to know Officium Triste,but they were playing the same genre for quite long time.


I wonder how they will celebrate their 20th anniversary next year. Their 15th anniversary was celebrated by releasing a compilation album and with a gig where they played with Longing For Dawn, Isole, Mourning Beloveth, Mournful Congregation and Evoken.
Fritillaria - 11.09.2013 at 18:18  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.09.2013 at 18:11

Their 15th anniversary was celebrated by releasing a compilation album and with a gig where they played with Longing For Dawn, Isole, Mourning Beloveth, Mournful Congregation and Evoken.

Oh! That was a hell of a show !
I really wish that the angel in Cinderella cartoon will come to me and either turn me into a Dutch resident or gives me a Dutch Visa for their next year 16th anniversary !
Marcel Hubregtse - 11.09.2013 at 18:31  
Written by Fritillaria on 11.09.2013 at 18:18

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.09.2013 at 18:11

Their 15th anniversary was celebrated by releasing a compilation album and with a gig where they played with Longing For Dawn, Isole, Mourning Beloveth, Mournful Congregation and Evoken.

Oh! That was a hell of a show !
I really wish that the angel in Cinderella cartoon will come to me and either turn me into a Dutch resident or gives me a Dutch Visa for their next year 16th anniversary !


20th anniversary 15th one was in 2009
Aristarchos - 26.09.2013 at 16:44  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 11.09.2013 at 17:40

Written by Aristarchos on 11.09.2013 at 11:42

I also found the band Stillborn from Sweden, who in 1989 released one album, Necrospirituals, with a gothic element, and could therefore be considered the first gothic metal band. Unlike most other gothic metal bands, they came from a more traditional doom metal background and not from death doom. They released two more albums.


I don't get where you hear that gothic element in Necrospirituals. Pure traditional doom with some epic elements to it, nothing gothic about it.

At least I don't think it sounds too dissimilar from what Paradise Lost and Type O Negative would do later, and I have read other people saying the same. Besides I sometimes seen it being labelled as gothic on other sites.
Aristarchos - 01.02.2014 at 17:01  
I was surprised finding how many proto-doom bands there were around in the 70's that I didn't mention in my article: Bedemon, Flower Travellin' Band (the most famous of them), Iron Claw, Wicked Lady, Icecross, Supernaut and my favourite, although the least doomy of them: Sudden Death. Most of these bands never released any album back then.

I also found a doomy song from 1969, which could be considered as the first doom song: The 31 Flavors's "Distortions of Darkness".

I have included some songs with the band in my list Songs from the 60's and 70's every metal fan should hear, and will also tell more about them in a forth-coming article.
Aristarchos - 03.02.2014 at 19:17  
What also surprised me was how high quality most of these early bands held.

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