Black Sabbath was the main influence of Doom Metal, in the early to mid 1980’s, when the sub genre first emerged. However, later on in the eighties, more Doom Metal artists emerged from around the world, that had not been influenced by Black Sabbath, nor hard they experienced the rise of their popularity; so Ozzy might have been the main- but not the only.Â Basically, doom metal is heavier than most genres of metal, but also slower, and its lyrics play a more important role. The lyrics are usually formed from despairing, pessimistic content, and are more prominently pronounced; that is to say, more easily understood, than for example; the lyrics of Death Metal, which are mainly “sung” through growls, or “death grunts.” Doom Metal continued to develop and peak in the early to mid 1990’s when the most prominent Doom Metal band emerged, Cathedral, which was also led by the former lead singer of Napalm Death, Lee Dorrian. The first album, entitled “Forest of Equilibrium” was essentially traditional Doom Metal, however, they also incorporated new themes, and crossover styles, which opened up the possibility for cross-over genres, and spin-off subgenres as well.
Hellhound Records, and Rise Above, which was actually owned by Lee Dorrian began to produce more and more Doom Metal bands in the 90’s following Cathedral’s footsteps; bands like Solitude Aeturnus, Count Raven, The Obsessed, Penance, Sleep, Revelation, Confessor, as well as others, incorporating other genre’s elements into their music, while still preserving the essence of Doom Metal at the core of their sound. While Doom Metal was steadily rising in underground popularity, many Death Metal bands began to slow down their pace, and crossover to the Doom Metal genre as well. Sorrow and early Paradise Lost, to name a couple, began slowing down their playing style, and pronouncing their lyrics, in order to break into the Doom Metal scene.
Despite some of the obvious differences, as we all know, the music and general media have their own special way of generating publicity, and hey, let’s face it, to them, if you dress in black, play guitar and look pale, you’re Gothic. So unfortunately, throughout the 90’s many Doom Metal bands, were actually misnamed and mislabeled as Gothic Rock, or Melodic Death Metal, and, horror of all horrors, Grunge Rock! This naturally created turbulence for the poor, amplifier-damaged minds of traditional Doom Metal fans, who rejected crossover styles of Doom Metal, and suddenly began questioning whether or not they were Doom fans at all. Damn the media! However, there is still distinction among the true underground metal obsessed, who point out the differences between some of the spin-offs and most common misconceptions.
For instance, bands like The Gathering, and Theatre of Tragedy, took influence from the slower, traditionally doom metal core of Paradise Lost, and began experimenting with female vocalist, and keyboard effects; this generated the sub-genre of Gothic Metal, or Beauty & The Beast Metal, so named for the wailing female Beauty vocalists, and the back-up of Beastly metal.
Another argument, which usually ends in thrown punches, and spilled bong water, is the one between Stoner Rock and Doom Metal; some believe it is the same, others embrace both, and the rest stand up and defend the differences with heavy profanity, and lots of dirty looks. The difference between the two genres, is that while Doom Metal sticks to the slower, heavy feel, it is also still all gloom and funeral doom in sound. Stoner Rock, while being equally fun, incorporates the sounds of Psychedelic Rock, and generally has a more spaced-out “whoooa man” type feel to it. The bands that easily show this difference in the two genres are groups like Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Mondo Generator and Queens of the Stone Age.
The most prominent instrumental usage found in Doom Metal in the slow, down-tuned guitar riffing, and the occasional keyboard. Some Doom Metal groups have incorporated violins, as well as faster drum beats, but these people don’t count, because technically, that’s not really “traditional” Doom Metal. Vocals, in traditional Doom Metal are also usually clean, and easily understood, such as those in the works of Black Sabbath, or they can leans towards operatic. Some examples of operatic vocals, are those of Robert Lowe from Solitude Aeturnus, or Messiah Marcolin from Candlemass.
Because so many bands have added influences of other bands, there are three known types of Doom Metal; Traditional Doom, which is mostly influenced and comparable to the styles of Black Sabbath, with slow, heavy, down-tuned guitar, gloomy, negative lyrics, and clean vocals. Some examples are Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Trouble and Candlemass. Then there is Stoner Doom, which is stylistic of Traditional Doom, but incorporates more Psychedelic, and Stoner Rock influences and themes. Examples of Stoner Doom are Acrimony, or Goatsnake; there really aren’t very many. And then third, is Epic Doom, which sounds funny for people overusing the word “epic” these days on the Internet, i.e. “epic win, epic fail, et cetera.” Epic Doom Metal is at the core, mainly a change in lyrics; most lyrics are influenced by medieval, and fantasy themes. Stage presence, and a narrative quality in the lyrical content is also important to this genre.
Crossover genres, technically, subgenres of a subgenre, are Funeral Doom, Sludge Doom, Death/doom, Drone Doom, –which I personally find most interesting, because the tracks in Drone Doom are much more distorted, and can be up to an hour long, like Boris and Merzbow’s “Sun Baked Snow Cave” –Black/doom, and Avant-garde Doom. Sludge Doom is basically a cross between hardcore and doom metal, often call “Doomcore.” Some examples are Eyehategod, Grief, Anticlimax, Corrupted and Crowbar. Funeral Doom slows the Doom Metal genre waaay down, and adds the more despairing, grieving tone, and adds more of the melodic ambience influence to it. Typical examples of Funeral Doom are Shape Of Despair, Celestiial, Mournful Congregation, Asunder, Remembrance, Nortt and Germany’s Ahab. Death/Doom is basically Death Metal that has slowed down enough to seem like a cross between Death and Doom Metal, with vocals that are more often than not screamed, or growled. Some examples are Winter, diSEMBOWELMENT, early Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, early Anathema, Novembers Doom, Mourning Beloveth, Draconian and Runemagick. Black/doom is a fairly rare crossover genre of Doom Metal, and is usually based on bands that have incorporated high pitched screams, as well as depressive, natural, or sadness oriented lyrical content. Some bands associated with this genre are Forgotten Tomb, Ghast, Nortt and Bethlehem. Avant-garde Doom is kind of a term for “miscellaneous” in the world of cross-overs. It’s basically a term for… “Eh.. not quite, but sure, okay,” Doom Metal bands that don’t quite fit the bill of the other cross-overs, that add their own artistic, or unique styles. A couple of examples are Esoteric and Unholy