Given that Doom Metal (or should that be DOOM METAL ? It feels like it has earned the right to be in ALL-CAPS) has pretty much more right than any other subgenre to claim it is the “original” form of heavy metal, it seemed kind of remiss that we didn’t have a column dedicated specifically to it. Until now – step forward, Pete Long….
With Doom pushing further and further at the boundaries of just how heavy and drawn-out a song can be, Southern Lord has kindly given us a chance to revisit the pinnacle of one of the heavier bands from the turn of the century. WarHorse were never prolific during their long tenure together, and notoriously a bit inconsistent with their releases, but most people can agree that with As Heaven Turns To Ash they hit the bullseye and levelled the surrounding area. Southern Lord have now re-released the album (along with the less highly thought of I Am Dying EP). We have to admit that sometimes albums that broke new ground and eardrums back in the day can sound a little tame further down the line, but As Heaven Turns To Ash is most assuredly not in that category though. This desperate, crushing, mindfucking take on Black Sabbath-worship can hold its own with pretty much anything put out today.
From the very heavy to the very mellow now, with Thurisaz: Live & Acoustic. Sure, there’s nothing heavy or groovy about this recording, but it’s got that beautiful soft grey melancholy so loved by latter day Anathema or Katatonia. There’s a cover of Anathema’s ‘A Natural Disaster’, along with covers of Woods of Ypres and Amorphis, but Thurisaz shine with their own material. Fan favourite ‘Years of Silence’ in particular worms its way into your head with its enchanting pathos. It’s the aural equivalent of walking in the rain after breaking up with your girlfriend, except good.
3) Scott Reagers to rejoin Saint Vitus for European gigs
At Saint Vitus, it’s out with the old and in with the also-old. With Wino absent from the band due to getting deported from Europe for possession of meth back in November, there’s a gap at the front of stage for one of doom’s most venerable acts. Therefore, they’ve asked former vocalist Scott Reagers back on board for their upcoming summer dates in Europe. It’s already been confirmed that they will play the Hellfest Open Air Festival and more are expected, so for anyone interested in seeing one of the pioneers strut their stuff in near original form, keep a good eye on your summer schedules.
4) Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
Tad Doyle is a name more familiar to grunge fans than those of doom, but that might be about to change. His Brothers of the Sonic Cloth project has finally released its first full-length and it is a humdinger. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’s self-titled debut is a sludgy, psychedelic piece of work that occasionally reaches Conan-esque levels of thunder and will hit your psyche in all the right places. Let’s just hope the sequel to this comes a lot quicker.
5) Ethereal Shroud
Ethereal Shroud is an unsigned one man project from the darkest, most necro depths of the UK.
Jon Joe Hawker plays everything in a very bleak mix of black and doom metal and on They Became The Falling Ash, he nails it. With songs clocking in at over twenty minutes long, it shouldn’t work, but instead the music mesmerises you into following the savage journey from despair to cathartic exultation and back to despair again. There is a serious talent that deserves more exposure. What’s more, the entire album is currently downloadable for free over on their Bandcamp page.
6) Crypt Sermon
However, for all these quality releases, there’s only one album being talked about as potential Album of the Year already. Not many people had really heard of Crypt Sermon [that’s them, pictured right at the very top of this column], but with debut album Out Of The Garden they have really grabbed hold of people’s attention. They’ve done this by listening to a lot of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass for inspiration and then playing some really, really good riffs.
Of course, they have strings to their bow than riffs. Frontman Brooks Wilson has one of those classic doom voices. The songwriting is impeccable and with the album weighing in at only 42 minutes, it suggests some serious rigour and discipline at play. A lot of bands, when shooting for that epic feel, try too much. Crypt Sermon haven’t and the result is an album where you can lose track of time just listening to it. Best of all? It’s currently streaming in its entirety on Stereogum – there is just no excuse for not listening to this.
Pete Long will be back in a few weeks’ time. You can always read some of his other Thrash Hits articles if you want more from him in the meantime.