Music Education

The Metal Minute: Doom Metal

We’re back this week with another installment of the Metal Minute. Many moons ago, I covered progressive metal, an artsy and psychedelic interpretation of the genre.

This week, we’re exploring the despairing world of doom metal.

What is it?

Doom metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that casts a gloomy, despondent shadow. If Edgar Allan Poe was a metalhead, this would be his genre of choice.

Cover for “Dehumanizer” by Black Sabbath

The genre can be traced back to the 1980s influence of Black Sabbath, a band that’s blues-infused style laid the groundwork for what would eventually develop into its own scene.

What’s it Sound Like?

The subgenre features slow, almost laborious tempos that compound an overarching tone of dread, despair and neurosis.

It’s common practice for guitarists and bassists to detune their instruments in order to achieve maximum heaviness. This effect leads many to describe the genre as “sludgy.”

Cover for “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” by Candlemass

The lyrical content of doom metal songs tends to center around several core themes: depression, paranoia, despair and occasionally the occult. While other subgenres, such as black metal, lend themselves towards extreme vocal distortion, most doom metal vocalists sing in a clear fashion.

Thus, it’s all the easier to pick out a song’s bleak themes. For example, “Solitude” by Candlemass represents clear doom metal ethos in its lyricism.

I’m sitting here alone in darkness
Waiting to be free,
Lonely and forlorn I am crying
I long for my time to come
Death means just life
Please let me die in solitude

“Solitude” – Candlemass

Subgenres Within Subgenres

Not only is doom metal a heavy metal subgenre, but is possesses several subgenres itself. Sub-subgenres, if you will.

Doom metal subgenres include drone metal, epic doom metal, gothic doom metal, sludge metal (also known as sludgecore), progressive doom, and many others.

Cover for “When the Kite String Pops” by Acid Bath

Each subgenre retains the core elements of doom metal but with the integration of qualities from other styles. For example, sludge metal is a combination of doom metal and hardcore punk.

Songs like “Finger Painting of the Insane” by Acid Bath feature the loping guitar rhythms characteristic of doom metal with the screaming vocals and “punch” of hardcore.

Who makes it?

There are numerous bands operating in the doom metal scene. Several major players include Type O Negative, Trouble, My Dying Bride and Candlemass.

Cover for “Bloody Kisses” by Type O Negative

Some of my favorite doom metal tracks are:

  • “Christian Woman” by Type O Negative
  • “Tripping a Blind Man” by Type O Negative
  • “Bewitched” by Candlemass
  • “Plague Bird” by Novembers Doom
  • “Nightfall” by Isole

By J

J is a DJ at WKNC and a staunch enjoyer of dark and moody music.