Doom metal

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Typical Doom Metal group singing about the Doomsday.

“Theres actually music playing? That shits so damn slow!”

~ Kai Hansen on Doom Metal

Doom metal (aka DOOM metal) is a form of heavy metal that emerged as a recognised subgenre after the release of the video game DOOM. It was originated by fans who became addicted (and occasionally, violent) with playing the high-speed asskicking of DOOM and formed their own band.

History of doom metal[edit]

Doom metal was invented by Roman musician and Weinrich "Wino" Vitus in the fourth century AD. Not many people know that doom metal is actually the first genre of heavy metal for this reason. At the time, Christianity was a blasphemous pagan religion, and the rebellious teen Vitus chose to express his rebellion and disdain for the status quo by writing Christian rock in the name of his Lord and Saviour, an equally rebellious Jew from Palestine born a few centuries earlier - hence, Born Too Late, the doom metal album of the ages. Vitus was also a depressed alcoholic, which resulted in the slow, miserable music that would later be named "doom metal". Needless to say, the Romans did not approve and had him martyred. While his name is now not well-known in Christianity, the music of Saint Vitus lives on in the doom metal world.

However, after the great steel factory accident of 1967 that turned Tony Iommi, master of doom and reality, into Iron Man, doom metal was perceived to be gone for good - having been banned and censored by multiple world governments. But that was soon to change, thanks to a small leap in video games that lead to the virtual holocaust of demons.

Although in the beginning of the 1990s, Wolfenstein 2D was a similar game that can be considered proto-doom, it was not until after DOOM was released that doom metal emerged as a genre. However, the Finnish black metal band My Loving Groom wrote songs about killing Nazis and their song Level 7 contained songwriting that could be described as "proto-doom".

With the release of DOOM in 1993, nerds with no lives quickly became addicted to the asskicking of blowing up demons from hell with an RPG. The first Doom metal band originated from Sweden called Candlemass. They were a group of god fearing televangelists. Candlemass's debut album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, is considered a legendary metal album and the first "true" doom metal album. It combined the dark and evilness of heavy metal and the dark and evilness of DOOM. The cover art depicted a zombies head being blown up with a shotgun. Pentagram imitators later followed with their own spin on the genre. DOOM metal quickly formed into a genre that basement dwellers couldn't get enough of.


The early 90s heralded a change in the doom metal landscape. With death metal having taken over the metal torch halfway through the eighties, doom metal enjoyed a revival. New bands emerged that sought a mix between original Doom-Metal and Death-metal. Early pioneers like Winter with their release 'Into Darkness' in 1990 and Thergothon with their brilliant demo 'Fhragn-nagh Yog-Sothoth' in 1991 broke through the original boundaries of traditional Doom-Metal and formed the building blocks for modern day Doom-Metal.

Bands like Winter, Thergothon and diSEMBOWELMENT could not gain the success later doom bands would have with this new style. Three bands from England, whom all shared the same label, Peaceville, propelled the Death/Doom genre to the level at which it stands today; Paradise Lost being the first with their release of 'Lost Paradise' in 1990 (which still had a strong death-metal influence). With 'Gothic' in 1991 they however almost single-handed set the standard for modern-day doom.

My Dying Bride Fellow label mates My Dying Bride succeeded in opening the gates for countless new Doom-Metal bands. Their first official release on Peaceville, 'Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium', in 1991 already showed this band was destined for greatness and with their second full length 'Turn Loose the Swans' in 1993 they set their status as the largest modern-day Doom-Metal band. Another influence on this new form of Doom-Metal was the third Peaceville band called Anathema. Despite being one of "the big three" they always remained the smallest and least influential.

Also worth mentioning is that at the beginning of the nineties, a band called Earth (no, not Black Sabbath with their orignal name) created some of the heaviest Sabbath influenced music ever. This band became a huge influence on the new genre of "drone doom", an extreme form of doom-metal where beats-per-minute and time signatures are discarded in favour of droning guitar sounds, measured in beats-per-hour (BPH). An offshoot of drone-doom is funeral doom, measured in beats-per-day (BPD, but not to be confused with bipolar disorder).

Nor can one overlook the rise of an odd child within the doom family, the mighty sludge metal; very heavy, miserable sounding doom-metal that perhaps lacks the mournful and emotions of doom but fills those with pure filth, disgust and anger. Sludge metal was invented by two bands from the early nineties; the Melvins, who injected heroin into hardcore punk, and Alice in Chains, whose sludgy brand of Black Sabbath imitation could drive the non-prepared straight to suicide. These two bands, however, came from Seattle, so they were actually grunge - "sludge metal" only refers to any band who comes from New Orleans, despite the fact their sound comes from Washington.

Midway through the nineties the need for experimentation within the metal genre as a whole also touched the doom metal genre. Bands like The 3rd and the Mortal created a more atmospheric type of doom with albums like Tears Laid in Earth' and were one of the first metal bands to have a fulltime female lead singer. Following in the wake of Thergothon, slower and more extreme acts than normal Death/Doom also started to emerge like Funeral, Skepticism and Esoteric. The experimentation "disease" lead to the many different types of Doom-Metal we know today. From the slow and emotionless sounds of Esoteric, Evoken and Skepticism to the Gothic/Doom-Metal hybrids like Theatre of Tragedy. And let's not forget that there is a whole host of new and old bands who still play the orignal style of Doom from the 80s.

Evoken Owing to this flurry of experimentation, the boundaries between genres faded and various great Doom-Metal giants moved away from the sound they helped create, giving the whole Doom-Metal genre a creative input of which we have not yet seen the last. The new millenium has already proven that by making 2001 one of the best years for heavy Doom since the early ninties

Lyrical Themes[edit]

DOOM metal lyrics are typically about DOOM, Impending DOOM, Hell, Satan, Sitting alone in darkness waiting to be free, being at the gallows end, fighting off an army of evilness and demons gate.

An example of doom metals inherit evilness, a verse from the Swedish doom metal band Candlemass song Demons Gate:

  • Beyond all nightmares I met my fate
  • All of my soldier buddies slaughtered by hells hate
  • Scared I was with my hand on my gun
  • I went into the demons gate

Stylistic divisions within doom metal[edit]

Traditional doom[edit]

Slow, malevolent, noise-based metal influenced by Pentagram as well as the Old Wave of American Heavy Metal movement. Typical examples: Saint Louis, Pentagram, Candlestick, Solitude Aeternus and Reverend Shotgun.


DOOM metal that is louder and places a greater lyrical emphasis on killing the enemies and your buddies, rather than just exploring levels, wandering aimlessly. An example of classic death/doom song is the song by the Spanish band Evilution called Ultraviolence and IDDQD.

Funeral doom[edit]

Funeral doom takes an emphasis on the main character in DOOM dying. It's usually slow and contains song titles like I Was Too Young to Die" and "Hey, I Said Not Too Rough".

Drone doom[edit]

Also known as drone metal, drone doom is a style which focuses on those annoying spider robots in DOOM. The songs are usually long and contain little direction in them. Their creator said it was from him recording him breaking up his old water heater which produced a sound described as being, "evil and robotic, like those spider monsters in DOOM".

Recent developments in drone doom style[edit]

Drone doom bands tend to go through water heaters quickly, and some have taken to utilizing an electric guitar and large amplifiers forgoing the water heaters altogether. Doom purists question this move, as an electric guitar amp usually looks a great deal more like a refrigerator than a water heater. One band, Sunn 0))) has even had the gall to name themselves after an amplifier brand name, blaspheming the classic practice of bands naming themselves after water heater brands. See Frigidaire, Kenmore, and Maytag.

Stoner metal[edit]

Stoner metal is a cross between doom metal and stoner rock, pioneered by Soundgarden, and features lyrics about playing Doom while stoned.

Sludge doom[edit]

A sub-genre that emphasizes on fan-created Doom maps with a lot of sludge on the maps. You remember the levels.

Black doom[edit]

Exactly the same as death-doom, but even worse. Lyrics usually praise the dark levels of Doom and how revolutionary this was to gaming. Bands of the style include Dolorian and Forgotten Tomb.


Doom songs are typically longer than most other genre song structures. GIR's "Doom Song" is not only considered the longest Doom song of all time, but also the longest song ever in music history. It clocks in at approximately 262,974 minutes (6 months), and considered the most doom song of all time both lyrically and in length.