I've listened to quite a bit of Within Temptation thanks to stumbling upon them quite a few years ago thanks to my love of Nightwish at the time, but I never decided to go back and check out any of their albums prior to The Silent Force. In terms of female-fronted Symphonic Metal bands they've always seemed to have taken a backseat to their peers, especially since they weren't as operatic or theatrical as early Nightwish or as extreme and dense as Epica, opting for simple but effective songs that use symphonic elements as a backdrop rather than pushing them into the forefront. This is especially apparent with their debut release which is much more in line with Gothic and Doom Metal compared to any of their more modern albums with its moody piano, strings, and somber vocal performance from Sharon den Adel. Since Within Tempation have gone completely off the deep end with 2019 release Resist, Enter was honestly a breath of fresh air that gave me a nice perspective into a mediocre but interesting group that doesn't necessarily deserve to be brushed aside when talking about 2000's Symphonic Metal.
Overall I enjoyed this album. Even though it's a bit draggy and plodding, I definitely prefer the Gothic Within Temptation compared to pretty much anything else they've done, save for a couple standout songs on The Silent Force. The harsh vocals are admittedly a bit much; guitarist Robert Westerholt doesn't exactly have the most compelling technique in the world, but they work well enough within the brooding atmosphere of the album and provided a nice contrast to Adel's vocals. Her vocals are a bit shaky throughout though, partially due to poor writing on certain occasions, but also due to it being a bit too sing-songy for how Gothic this album sounds. Even though nothing really stands out about this album, I still think it's a solid piece of symphonic-heavy Gothic Metal with a nice atmosphere and some decent replayability. It also really helped to paint the full picture about the evolution of Within Tempation's sound leading up to The Silent Force and eventually into the downfalls of Hydra and Resist.
And hey, I think "Blooded" is a fine instrumental transition between "Grace" and "Candles".
There were a couple of real duds on Within Temptation's 1997 debut album "Enter" however I have the most issues with this one:
Surprisingly, this song I still think of as one of the most epic pieces of gothic doom I've heard since first listening to this band in my earlier epic metal taste 7 years ago. I guess this is another one of those examples of our metal interests being different from what we are each used to, Daniel.
Dutch gothic metal for fans of Draconian & 90's Theatre Of Tragedy & Tristania.
As one of the only two songs of their debut with only Sharon den Adel on vocals (the other song being "Restless"), those female vocals and symphonic elements helped the band in their direction out of the gothic doom in Enter to the symphonic metal of Mother Earth and most of their subsequent albums...
Happy 30th anniversary to the very first release of one of the true masters of death-doom! I still don't think The Horde clan is suitable for this release though, see this thread: https://metal.academy/forum/28/thread/689
I can't place exactly why, but I didn't care for this. After the 3rd listen it didn't even feel like one of those albums where I understand why I "should" enjoy it; there's just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. I think Daniel saying "For fans of Atlantean Kodex" is the best explanation I can give, because that band makes me feel the exact same way. There's something about the incessant, soaring lead vocals that just ruins the sound for me, even though the doomy chugs and softer acoustic sections are well written. I can't really say much more than that because I don't quite get why this is bouncing off of me so hard, but it just is. The back half of the album from "Blackthorne" on keeps me much more interested than the front half, although it's still kind of hard to sit through the 15-minute closer. I'll have to come back to this one in a few weeks or months to see if I'm still just clueless on what to think about this one.
Wolvennest have released the best album of the year so far. Not easily pigeonholed, it's 70+ minutes does for doom metal what Oranssi Pazuzu did for Black Metal with last year's Mestarin kynsi, blending psych-doom with black metal, gothic rock and space rock for a fairly unique release.
My thoughts on some tracks (including my suggested ones):
Tiamat – “Whatever That Hurts” (from “Wildhoney”, 1994)
4/5. This psychedelic gothic doom track starts off with strong guitar riffing that may be noticeable by Black Sabbath fans. Then it tones down to the calm without losing its punch. Great suggestion, Ben!
My Dying Bride – “For You” (from “Like Gods Of The Sun”, 1996)
4.5/5. Quite a more optimistically upbeat composition while still having the somber balladry My Dying Bride usually has. It remains another outstanding song with the help of the emotional vocals of Aaron. I don't know if I love this song or HIM's "For You" more. They're both great songs, though this MDB song is slower and that HIM song is more rock-ish with a bit of experimentation.
Paradise Lost – “Victim Of The Past” (from “The Plague Within”, 2015)
4/5. The guitar playing is in impressive aggressive territory, especially in the apocalyptic chorus with some of the fastest tapping and most furious growling ever by the band. That gives the song its own distinct identity compared to the others.
Katatonia – “Velvet Thorns (Of DrynWhyl)” (from “Dance Of December Souls”, 1993)
4.5/5. This is a 13-minute epic that marks the longest song ever made by Katatonia. Guitars slide back and forth through harmonies in uninterrupted hypnotic ambiance. Soon they pick up the pace with a small section of furious energy that's worth great headbanging, sounding a bit like old-school black metal. Then it's back to the slow death-doom, before ending with one of the most mystical keyboard-infused outros I've ever heard.
Cult Of Luna – “Wave After Wave” (from “The Raging River” E.P., 2021)
5/5. Another epic, doing exactly what the title says; hit you with wave after wave of massive flowing transcendence. An epic climax of weaving instrumentation fills up the last few minutes, keeping up the band's lucky album-ending streak.
In response to your enquiry Sonny, my original intention was to spread our feature releases around amongst every subgenre included in the clans but I decided that this approach wasn't working after putting out several features that received very little engagement (goregrind & Celtic metal for example). It also made no sense to be putting out as many niche subgenre releases as the more classic ones (e.g. gorenoise vs death metal). In regards to The Fallen, I got through all of the subgenres with the exception of funeral doom metal which was next on the list when I decided to rethink my approach. It's worth noting though that I didn't differentiate gothic death doom from your regular death/doom or epic doom from your garden variety of doom though. I actually never thought there was much reason to differentiate those until you recently raised the topic & it explained why I didn't get the expected engagement from you on one or two of the past features.
The next approach I tried was purely to encourage the discovery of new music. I was picking highly-regarded releases that hadn't been rated by any of our regular contributors (with the possible exception of Ben & I) & this saw engagement picking up with people investigating bands & releases outside of their usual comfort zones. I wasn't really paying all that much attention to which subgenre these releases were from though as long as the members were discovering new high quality music. I ended up abandoning this methodology once I saw that people like yourself & Xephyr who are so comprehensive in your ratings for particular subgenres were causing me to skip those altogether though.
Over the last couple of months I've changed it up again & are focusing on a) highly regarded & interesting current releases & b) a mixture of old classics & unheralded gems. I haven't been focusing on the subgenres of these releases all that much or whether they've been rated before or not. It's been more about presenting quality options for everyone to enjoy & I often choose releases that I haven't personally rated as I'm committed to rating all nine of the features each month. My own musical preferences aren't taken into account at all though (as seen by the recent power metal features).
As you can see, it's a very fluid process of improvement. I'm obviously open to everyone's feedback (as seen in the changes we've been regularly implementing in that regard) so if you'd like me to focus on particular areas then feel free to let me know (like you appear to have here).
Andi, no need to apologize as you're bang on with your thinking there. I've never seen any indication that you enjoy the definitive sludge metal sound so it never occurred to me to recommend that Isis E.P. to you. Sludge metal is angrier, noisier & more aggressive than it's doom metal neighbour & the stuff you refer to as "atmospheric sludge metal" more often than not has very little to do with it. I tend to prefer a heavier, nastier style of metal in general so I don't think it would be much of a surprise to find that I prefer a release like "The Mosquito Control" E.P. but, in saying that, there's very little in it & I still regard releases like "Panopticon" & "Oceanic" as utterly essential no matter what brand of metal floats your boat.
The debut album from this Japanese sludge metal band. Musically, this is heavily driven by stoner metal & doom metal with a dense, noise-laden guitar tone & an intense screaming performance from front man Monzawa bringing it comfortably over into sludge metal territory. The doomier moments represent Greenmachine's more appealing material for me personally but there are no weak tracks included with the overthetop vocal delivery giving even the rockier sections a healthy dose of underground street cred. I'd highly recommend chasing down the 2003 re-release pictured above over the original 1996 version as the three bonus tracks offer similar quality & only work to enhance the overall offering given the short run-time of the original release. "D.A.M.N." comes highly recommended for fans of Soilent Green, Eyehategod & Kyuss (in fact Greenmachine appear to have taken their moniker from one of the highlight tracks from Kyuss' classic 1992 album "Blues For The Red Sun").
Interesting thoughts saxy. I actually think the idea of playing the two releases over the top of each other is a huge wank &, after careful consideration, I chose to rate the album on the individual disks alone as they totally blow me away without ever needing to layer them & that's the way the release comes on Spotify. I honestly can't remember what the layered version sounds like to tell you the truth but I completely agree with you that if the album was genuinely meant to be listened to in that fashion then surely it would have been released that way to begin with.
They are indeed sludge classics, but Mastodon has been within my knowledge the longest, not just in my playlist, but also when I heard a song from the Leviathan album, "Island" in a quick scene from the Pixar movie Monsters University that I watched when it first came out. Besides that, Leviathan is what I believe to be one of the most innovative albums in both progressive and sludge metal. So yeah, Mastodon for me! I'll add my vote along with yours, Daniel:
My thoughts on some of the tracks (including my suggested songs):
Officium Triste – “Your Eyes” (from “Giving Yourself Away”, 2007)
10/10. Perfect start to this playlist and the album this song was in! Officium Triste is one of a few death-doom bands I really love, and this song is a great awesome one of that genre. I don't have to find the meaning of the lyrics, the band tells it all! Some stories you don't have to see but hear, almost like a depressive demonic fairytale. This is the kind of death-doom, Anathema and My Dying Bride had in the early 90s but altered it in different directions. Well done, Officium Triste!
The Ocean – “Rhyacian / Untimely Meditations” (from “Precambrian”, 2007)
11/10 (not exaggerating). Another one of the greatest Fallen tracks ever! The vocals never detract and are instead dark and subversive enough to immerse you in. The bells, piano, and clean guitars stay comfy in the softer parts. Then the heavier parts with riffs and screams help organize the heavier side of progressive sludge. Shortly after the 6-minute mark, most of the atmosphere is decimated by what might be the f***ing heaviest moment in progressive metal, more chaotic than early BTBAM, who also released an amazing masterpiece album that same year. By the grace of The Ocean!!
Anathema – “Far Away” (from “Eternity”, 1996)
8/10. From Anathema's last metal album. Apparently, this stunning song is about letting go of fallen loved ones. Anathema was one of the earliest bands I've enjoyed to have at least a couple death-doom albums. I still can't believe they're now in a mix of prog/indie/electronic/classic rock. The heavier memories are now far away...
After Forever – “Beyond Me” (from “Prison Of Desire”, 2000)
9/10. Two of the most beautiful female symphonic metal vocalists unite early on in their careers! Sharon Den Adel's nice voice adds dark gloom. The beautiful melody tries to avert the darkness but falls into glorious defeat.
7/10. Just a poppy song with good drive. OK, but not enough to discuss more.
My Dying Bride – “The Return To The Beautiful” (from “The Dreadful Hours”, 2001)
10/10. Another perfect song to end this playlist and the album this song was in! Re-recorded from As the Flower Withers, the epic is extended to over 14 minutes, but you know how the parts go. First part "The Silence" has the usual death-doom. In the second part "The Sadness", it soon descends into a sad funeral doom-ish dirge. Third part "The Lust" switches to a quick groove before slowing down back to the death-doom. Then in the fourth part "The Battle", the instrumentation collapses into the screaming sounds of war before starting a death metal battle. Fifth part "The Return" returns to that dirge and groove with Aaron narrating his last lines.
I do not object to the playlist order in any way, but if I could make a small change to the order, I would probably make the Witchfinder General and Saint Vitus tracks 5 and 6 and the Anathema and After Forever tracks 8 and 9 to fit in The Perfect Metal Album Storm (https://metal.academy/forum/23/thread/442).
As I come off my review of Incantation's Diabolical Conquest, we now find ourselves back in the more traditional form of death doom metal with My Dying Bride. And truth be told, I've never really cared all that much for My Dying Bride. There music has been tolerable and I don't mind at all if it comes up in a playlist or if it gets recommended to me, but something about them just doesn't stick with me.
And with The Dreadful Hours, I think I finally figured out what that Achilles heel was: the synths. I've heard a lot of synths used on metal albums in power metal and gothic doom over the last year, and the albums that does resonate with me are the ones with the inauthentic synthesizers. I know they are called "synths" for a reason, but the strings and choral arrangements don't match with... anything.
Which is a damn shame because the basic fundamental "doom metal" portions are really good. Take for example "My Hope, The Destroyer" as well as "Le Figlie Della Tempesta". The rhythm and guitar work is solid, and truly spectacular during the dual melodic harmonies. These passages also allow for some adequate bass lines to be pronounced in the mix. It's very simplistic, but I can let it slide given the stylings we are dealing with.
But those synths...they take me out of the experience. One minute this album can be transcendent and I can be soaring amongst the clouds, forgetting everything quibble in the world. But as soon as those choirs hit, I'm immediately brought back to reality. I mean the craftsmanship on display is commendable and is worth hearing just for that, but for me, when I think of early 2000s gothic metal, with complimentary synths, I am going to have to stick with Green Carnation.
All year I had a feeling that I was missing a lot of quality Doom albums, since the only ones that are currently towards the top of my list are Reflections and Stygian Bough. Such a shift for me since my 2019 list had quite a bit of Doom in it, so it was nice looking through this list to see what I didn't get around to. I may have to return to that MSW record, I saw you held it in very high regard and I did really enjoy it, but never went back to it. I'll definitely be checking on this through December to this to see if I want to fit any more listens in before the end of the year.
I very much enjoyed this one Daniel. I already knew that the Solitude Aeturnus, Draconian and Evoken tracks are amazing (I selected them for that reason), but the Cult of Luna track is just as incredible! I've not checked out the Julie Christmas collaboration album, but I sure will now. Monolord was pretty enjoyable too.
Probably the only tracks that didn't float my boat were Robots Of The Ancient World (have we heard enough bands with this Sabbath-cloning sound?) and Neptunian Maximalism (which just isn't my thing). Still, I'm happy to know what these bands are about now.
OK so I’m gonna have to thank saxy profusely for leading me down this path because “Eons” has quite simply left me with my jaw lying on the ground over the last few days & has single-handedly proven the validity of the push to include some more modern feature releases. It’s an indescribably beautiful & gloriously intimidating 128-minute triple album that truly defies categorization. The most common labels attributed to it seem to be avant-garde jazz & drone metal but neither is a terribly good fit in my opinion. It’s easy enough to see why people want to go down those paths but this is a long way from a jazz release even though it consistently draws upon shared tools. It’s also not a metal release when taken holistically but a good portion of the material seems to borrow from that niche subgenre’s intimidating grandeur & there are certainly a few tracks that are a good fit for that tag. I’d throw in ritual ambient & traditional drone as equally strong components of Neptunian Maximalism's sound, particularly due to the consistent pulse that binds their noise-laden soundscapes & the extensive layering of Eastern-influenced sounds on offer, both of which see me often being reminded of Dead Can Dance although the link is more in the aesthetic than the overall sound. There are hints at krautrock in the celebration of experimentation here too. The more drone metal inspired works on the third record are where things come together in their purest & most gripping realization & I’d suggest that the four tracks it contains are very close to perfect. The more jazz inspired pieces don’t have quite the same effect but are just as intriguing from an artistic point of view.
"Eons" is a dark, brooding, cerebral & spiritually enlightening experience that seems custom-made for someone like me that likes to be challenged both artistically & emotionally by my music. It's interesting that the cover art is a pretty good graphical indication of what you can expect to find contained within actually. You’ll rarely find an album that more successfully takes the listener outside of their comfort zone & into an entirely new world. Just don’t expect that world to be as immediately welcoming as you might hope because the sheer breadth of this musical undertaking is not for the faint of heart. Neptunian Maximalism have conjured up a release that sounds very much like the soundtrack to a ritualistic human sacrifice. It will undoubtedly have you questioning whether you want to watch such an atrocity however you’ll struggle to look away as the process seems to hint at a spiritual transcendence that only exists in our dreams & fantasies.
01. Melvins – “Hag Me” (from “Houdini”, 1993) I am seemingly one of the few who thinks that sometimes Melvins are extremely overrated. When they are good they are very good, however and this track is a pretty damn fine slab of sludgy, stoner-influenced doom metal. 8/10
02. Funeral – “This Barren Skin” (from “From These Wounds”, 2006) Gothic-led death doom that I’m sure appeals to the vast hordes of My Dying Bride fans, but I find most of this stuff outside a few of the more classy acts, insipid and bland, this included. 4.5/10
03. Theatre Of Tragedy – “Venus” (from “Aegis”, 1998) See above, add cheesy synths and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast-style vocals, then divide by ten - awful. The metal version of Jim Steinman. Luckily, Spotify played an ad after this and that was preferable! 1/10
04. Katatonia – “Saw You Drown” (from “Discouraged Ones”, 1998) ..and so to the “mighty” Katatonia. I appreciate they are one of the darlings of the doom scene and indeed they do have their moments, but I really don’t rate them as all that. This would be a good track if the singer didn’t sound so fucking uninterested. 6/10
05. Tiamat – “Cain” (from “Prey”, 2003) Is this an outtake from Sisters of Mercy’s Vision Thing album? I’m sorry, but you’re losing me here, in fact I’m beginning to question if I’m actually listening to a metal playlist at all because most of this, up to this point, sounds like bands who would rather be playing anything but metal. 5/10
06. Cult Of Luna – “Ghost Trail” (from “Eternal Kingdom”, 2008) I like Cult of Luna very much and this is a nice builder of a track from an album I am unfamiliar with. 8/10
07. Down – “Ghosts Along The Mississippi” (from “Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow…”, 2002) Loo-sianna-swamp-mud-thick grooves of southern fried stoner metal from the guy who used to be in that Pantera. 8/10
08. Elder – “Release” (from “Spires Burn/Release” E.P., 2012) A lengthy stoner jam from one of the great exponents of the form. 8/10
09. Reverend Bizarre – “The Devil Rides Out” (from “II: Crush The Insects”, 2005) [Submitted by Sonny92] I guess I’m biased as this is one of mine and I love Rev Biz anyway, but this is classic heavy metal-based trad doom with goofy Hammer-style horror lyrics. 9/10
10. Saint Vitus – “Born Too Late” (from “Born Too Late”, 1986) [Submitted by Daniel] Shit, I fuckin’ love that Wino guitar tone. A molasses-thick, crawling riff and Wino’s whiskey-soaked vocals that hints at smoky back rooms in seedy back alley bars. Outsider lyrics that hark back to a time when metal was still an outlaw brand of music instead of the corporate whore it sometimes appears to be nowadays.10/10
11. Gore – “Extirpation” (from “Hart Gore”, 1986) A band I must confess to being completely ignorant of prior to this, but this I like. 8/10
12. Winter – “Servants Of The Warsmen” (from “Into Darkness”, 1990) [Submitted by Sonny92] Now this is what I really call death doom, classic old-school shit that has more than a passing relationship with death metal. A true classic of death doom and an album every metalhead should own. 10/10
13. My Dying Bride – “Catherine Blake” (from “Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light”, 2004) Classic-sounding MDB from one of their most popular albums, with a nod to gothic horror tales. 8/10
14. Couch Slut – “I’m 14” (from “Take A Chance On Rock ‘n’ Roll”, 2020) Genuine hardcore-derived sludge that shows it’s punk origins as much as it’s metal roots. 7/10
15. Void Of Silence – “Opus II: With No Half-Measure” (from “Criteria ov 666” (2002) [Submitted by Ben] More gothic metal-influenced doom, but at least this sounds a bit less polished being based on black metal rather than death metal and as such feels rawer and more vital than that tired old path. 7/10
16. Boris – “Blackout” (Pink”, 2005) [Submitted by Daniel] As a more recent convert to Boris I am probably still in a honeymoon phase with the band, but that said this is still a fantastic short droney crawl showcasing their own particular brand of noise metal.
17. Esoteric – “Rotting In Dereliction” (from “A Pyrrhic Existence”, 2019) [Submitted by Sonny92] The masters of funeral doom hit it out of the park with last year’s A Pyrrhic Existence and this is that album’s second best track. Bleak, hopeless, savage and anguished, it combines funeral and death doom in a crushing heavyweight of a track that strips away any pretentions and leaves a raw and exposed soul. 9/10
18. Cult Leader – “Sympathetic” (from “Lightless Walk”, 2015) Another band I’m unfamiliar with, but I like their angry-sounding, hardcore-derived sludge if this is typical of them. 7/10
Came close to binning this playlist by track five, to be honest. Fortunately it improved steeply after that point and I found a couple of new gems to explore.
I like this record a lot. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say I Iike it better than the material of the group members’ other bands. I think you can generally split Stoner Metal into two sub-categories: the first would include the super-heavy, almost Doom bands like Sleep and Electric Wizard, and the second would be more “rock” oriented stuff like Down or Orange Goblin (I’d also throw Kyuss in there). The more I delve into the latter category, the more I think Down nailed it better than anybody else on this LP, the music’s just more interesting and Phil’s vox take it to another level. 4/5
When I first came across Swallow The Sun I really, really enjoyed them, and they put on a great live show when I saw them in 2019, but as time as passed they started to drift to the wayside as I found other Doom and Death Doom bands that grabbed my attention. They still have a very unique sound even to this day though, with their Death Doom style leaning way to the Doom side and creating creepy and haunting atmospheres rather than suffocating and crushing ones. Their songs always had so much more depth thanks to the background strings and other slightly progressive elements and their confidence to really slow down their compositions with cleaner, melodic parts before transitioning back into the heavy stuff.
The biggest problem I've found I have with Swallow The Sun is the sheer length of their albums and ideas, with most of their albums being a massive undertaking to slog through since their style, as refined as it can be, doesn't change a whole lot. They always seem to find new, little ways to add to their creepy atmosphere, but their Death Doom formula has pretty much remained the same old stuff. In this case, the same old same old turns into plodding monotony that I've seldom had the motivation to go back to. So, what does that mean for the 1 hour "EP" Plague of Butterflies?
The title track is obviously the focus, and it does a fantastic job of boiling down Swallow The Sun's style into one extended piece that touches on pretty much everything that lets them stand out. The transitions in and out of the more Death focused riffs are great, the overall atmosphere is haunting and mysterious, and the track progression through all its different movements is impressive, even though I didn't think it was very cohesive on my first listen. "Plague of Butterflies" is definitely a grower in my eyes, since there's so much song to get through. Even though it's technically broken up into three separate parts, it's not as clear-cut in where these begin and end, leaving the listener fully responsible for piecing this 35 minute mammoth together. Although their style can be incredible to listen to whenever it all comes together, Swallow The Sun have always been slightly wonky to me, with their harsh vocals not quite hitting the mark it feels like they should, and the clean vocals being extremely hit or miss, especially on this one. I've gone back and forth as to how much I truly enjoy this track, and I think I'm settling on a higher score than I initially thought just due to the amazing use of the strings and choir elements throughout, since it's so easy to have these elements come off as corny in Doom Metal like this.
I do think that this 35-minute track is quintessential Swallow The Sun and probably their greatest release. It's a more succinct package that shows what Swallow The Sun does best rather than their other, even more extended works. The rest of the songs are so-so, pretty much just B-sides or maybe songs that didn't make the cut for New Moon at the time.
Another sludge band I can usually take or leave. I'll take this one - I especially like the thrashy tempo change. 7/10
13. 16 – “Candy In Spanish”
Angry-sounding sludge as a father hopes for a better life for his young daughter than the one he's had to endure himself. So actually quite a positive message, albeit tinged with regret and some bitterness, despite the aggressive tone of the track. 8/10
14. Tristania – “Beyond The Veil”
Sorry, but I truly cannot stand this symphonic shit, just sounds like Disney-metal to me. 2/10
15. The Ruins Of Beverast – “Surtur Barbaar Maritime”
Oh man, did I need this after that Tristania track! Proper doom metal that doesn't make me think of anthropomorphised, animated rodents! Blackened doom with an almost ritualistic slant. Superb stuff. 10/10
16. Colosseum – “Towards The Infinite”
I know I'm biased and this was one of my choices, but this shit is what I live for. What a sublime downer of an ending to the playlist. 10/10
All in all an enjoyable playlist - a couple of bands I will be exploring further, a couple of surprises, only one dud and some stone-cold classy tunes.
This is the album that fulfills all the hysterical paranoia of late twentieth century parent's fears of drugs influencing their offspring's minds and causing them to turn to more drugs, sex, satanism, even more drugs and insanity - Reefer Madness brought to life. I'm sure it gives Jus Osborne a warm feeling inside to think what a record like this must do to the sensibilities of the so-called moral arbiters of the world as he feeds on their hypocritical outrage like some kind of mental vampire. Musically it takes the original template for stoner doom laid down by Sleep, slows it down, makes it exponentially heavier and lyrically more outrageous to produce the standard against which other stoner doom albums are measured. Funeralopolis, Weird Tales, Dopethrone and I, The Witchfinder are the very epitome of what stoner metal is all about. It's been a long, long time since I last got stoned, but all I have to do is put on a pair of headphones, turn out the lights and crank this up to take me back there again.
Remember when rock music was dangerous & exciting? Well I do & it was a long fucking time ago now. These days we have to settle for bland & over-produced commercially focused offerings with light strummy acoustic guitars, pretty piano melodies & a former boy band member for a vocalist whose whiny delivery gives you the impression that he's on the verge of crying most of the time. Well FEAR NOT people because Japanese noise/drone/stoner phenomenon Boris have other ideas & this double live collaboration with legendary noise exponent & fellow Tokyo native Merzbow is just about the most rock 'n' roll release I've heard in the last 20 years. It's very loud, very noisy & outrageously fun whilst jumping around all over the place stylistically. The first disk begins with the 35 minute masterpiece that is "Feedbacker" (which is unquestionably one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded) before taking you through the whole spectrum of sounds encompassed by Boris' extensive back-catalogue. Overall, I'd suggest that this release sits somewhere between post-metal, drone metal & Sonic Youth style noise rock with bits & pieces of stoner metal, psychedelic rock & heavy psych here & there but it really doesn't matter what style you prefer. If you love loud, dirty guitars & trippy, cerebral psychedelics then this release is absolutely worth almost two hours of your time.
Once more, great playlist Daniel. That DJing experience is really coming in handy! Although I must admit the ending had me a bit flummoxed.
Anyway here's a few random thoughts on the tracks:
01. Cult of Luna – “Finland” (from “Somewhere Along the Highway”, 2006) Atmo-sludge, post-metal, whatever you wish to call it is still a relatively new musical discovery for me apart from Isis, but with this and last month's offering from Pelican I am finding myself drawn to it more and more. Properly atmospheric.
02. Sleep – “Dragonaut” (from “Sleep’s Holy Mountain”, 1992) The stoner doom pioneers wreathe Master of Reality / Vol.4 Sabbathian riffs in dopesmoke and force them straight to the mid-brain.
03. Cathedral – “Schizoid Puppeteer” (from “Serpent’s Gold”, 2004) Originally only available on the 1996 Rise Above sampler Dark Passages II, this is one of Cathedral's great unknown tracks. Stoner metal songwriting ambition that Lee Dorrian excels at.
04. Boris – “Introduction” (from “Akuma No Uta”, 2005) Wall of sound drone as Boris seem to do better than almost everyone else. Like it.
05. Pallbearer – “Foreigner” (from “Sorrow & Extinction”, 2012) After a gentle strummed intro Pallbearer kick in with a crushing riff for ten minutes of ultra-heavy "pure" doom metal that the band have never bettered.
06. Trees Of Eternity – “Gallows Bird” (from “Hour Of The Nightingale”, 2016) Despite not being a big fan of this album I actually really like this when heard in the context of the playlist, particularly after the cataclysmic heaviness of Pallbearer.
07. Draconian – “The Apostasy Canticle” (from “Arcane Rain Fell”, 2005) As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of Gothic Doom, but this I like and will certainly be giving this album a spin.
08. My Dying Bride – “She Is The Dark” (from “The Light At the End Of The World”, 1999) See above, although in light of the last couple of tracks, maybe I'm better disposed to gothic doom than I suspected!
09. Shape Of Despair – “Reaching The Innermost” (from “Monotony Fields”, 2015) Funeral doom is one of my absolute favourite genres and this is one of the (many) reasons why. Bleak and claustrophobic as layer upon layer of melancholic atmosphere are built up to envelop the listener in a lightless blanket of doom.
10. Pig Destroyer – “Natasha” (from “Natasha” EP, 2008) OK, I'll have to get back to you on this one!?
Consider me a fan of the playlists, I enjoyed listening to this even more than I expected. A couple of old favourites and plenty of really good stuff I hadn't heard before. Nicely done, Daniel.
Some thoughts on the actual tracks themselves:
1. Boris - "EVOL" (from "LφVE & EVφL", 2019) 8/10. I love Feedbacker, but aren't super-familiar with Boris other than that. Love this - will check the album out soon.
2. Pelican - "Last Day Of Winter" (from “The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw”, 2005) 10/10. Never heard these guys before. This is great - right up my alley!
3. Neurosis – “Stones From The Sky” (from “A Sun That Never Sets”, 2001) 8/10. The little I've heard from Neurosis I wasn't that keen on (Times of Grace, admittedly ages ago), but this is pretty good.
4. Paradise Lost – “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us” (from “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us”, 2009) 6/10. I'm no big fan of PL and I don't feel this changing my mind.
5. Crowbar – “Planets Collide” (from “Odd Fellows Rest”, 1998) 7/10. Another band I'm unfamiliar with. Not bad at all, it's sludge has a kind of grungy vibe to it. Great guitar tone.
6. Om – “Bedouin’s Vigil” (from “Bedouin’s Vigil/Assyrian Blood” split single with Six Organs Of Admittance, 2006) 6/5. I like Pilgrimage. This is OK, but sounds a bit weak and just sort of peters out at the end.
7. Domovoyd – “Domovoyage” (from ”Domovoyd”, 2015) 8/10. Gets off to a slow start but builds nicely. Has a rocket-fuelled space rock vibe to it that I'm quite keen on.
8. Candlemass – “Mirror Mirror” (from “Ancient Dreams”, 1988) 8/10. From my least favoured of Candlemass' first four albums, this is possibly it's best track.
9. Graveworm – “Scars Of Sorrow” (from “Collateral Defect”, 2007) 5/10. Sorry, not my sort of thing at all.
10. Skumring – “De glemte tider” (from “De glemte tider”, 2005) 9/10. Love this album. Love this track - ethereal and melancholy.
11. Saturnus – “Starres” (from “For The Loveless Lonely Nights” EP, 1998) 8/10. I like Saturnus' brand of death doom, but haven't heard this before. Like it.
12. Corrupted – “Inactive” (from “Northgrush/Corrupted” split, 1997) 7/10. Another band I'm totally unfamiliar with, but this is some seriously ultra-heavy shit. Pity the production is also shit, but I'll definitely be checking these guys out further.
As is the trend with me, I really didn't like Leviathan when I first heard it. I was really early into discovering Metal and I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on, and the vocalist really rubbed me the wrong way. After becoming more initiated I went back to it and ended up agreeing with all of you that it's a fantastic themed record that has a ton going for it. The drum fills throughout the album are absolutely wicked, with each measure seeming to have some sort of fill stuck in there somewhere. The twists and turns that the album takes are effortlessly integrated, like the strange but endearing guitar lick in the middle of "Megalodon" before it absolutely explodes into a massive chugfest. It's an easily approachable and digested slab of chaos that doesn't cut corners but manages to stay on the less extreme side of things, even though the guitar tone and some of the vocals would lead you to believe otherwise.
Crack The Skye is Mastodon's most complete album, but Leviathan shows them mastering the sludgy but complex style in really creative ways. Comparing Leviathan to Emperor of Sand, like Saxy was alluding to, this earlier Mastodon record simply has more interesting riffs that lean into being difficult to fully understand but never being overly pretentious. As Mastodon have latched onto a more straightforward sound over the years, a lot of the excitement and rawness that this album had just faded away a bit.
Weighing Souls With Sand is a heavy album. Heavy in emotion, heavy in distortion, heavy in feel and style. Even though it feels like I'm echoing Daniel's exact thoughts here, it's definitely a one-trick album with a solid premise but not that much exploration. It appeals to a very niche audience that can milk its style for all its worth, finding some sort of deeper meaning and, in the process, evoking some sort of crushing primal emotion. I'm not one of those people either, so this record falls pretty flat after the first track. It's beautiful, it's certainly unique in the way that it uses abrasively loud distortion to layer in other sounds to create something admittedly beautiful, but it all just sounds the same after the first ten minutes. Even the more minimalist percussion sections get played out by the end, despite sounding amazingly echo-y and vast. This is just one of those albums where I can admit that I see why some think it's a masterpiece, but I certainly think it's overrated as well.
I must disagree Xephyr, I only very rarely find that gothic metal sounds sincere (and this ain't it). I do agree about the Idle Hands album, though - I just found it boring. However, I've just looked back at my RYM list for last year and I gave it 3/5. Wow, I must have really been in a good mood that day! It was still only #376 on my year list, though.
A compilation of the 1978/79 demo recordings from these NWOBHM/traditional doom metal pioneers. The timing of these recordings may well make this the earliest legitimate example of the traditional doom metal subgenre that I've encountered & I actually like it a touch better than Pagan Altar's 1982 self-titled release due to its greater level of consistency & cool 70's psychedelic rock vibe. Fans of Ozzy-period Black Sabbath, 70's Pentagram & Manilla Road should find some enjoyment here despite the demo-quality production.
Inspired by Chris Van Ettan splitting hairs over which genre an album from a different clan has (thrash or speed metal, death metal or grindcore, power metal or trad metal and sludge vs. stoner vs. doom), I decided to continue the DIS vs DAT activity with an interesting twist; instead of voting on which album has the greater edge, we do it with genres from one of the clans instead. Single-genre clans (like The Gateway and The Sphere) would be divided into hidden subgenres that some of us have heard of but are never listed in the site (for example, alternative metal vs nu metal, industrial metal vs neue Deutsche härte). This should be a nice interesting challenge for Chris and other members of the site. Got two or three albums from a different genre in the same clan and same release year but can't decide which one has the greater edge? Share them here!
Let's starts off with two Fallen albums released in 2005, one of which I've already listened to myself. If you have been following my journey through The Fallen Modern Era Clan Challenge, you probably know which one I like better, but I won't tell you until I get at least one or a few responses. Which one of these albums with a different genre has the greater edge? Choose one and explain the reason!