Friday, 27 December 2019

The Best Doom Metal Albums of the Decade (Part 1)

As the winter settles in and the current decade is ending, we at Metal and Prog tops wish you happy holidays releasing:

The TOP 31 Doom Metal Albums
 of the 2010s

31.  Thronehammer - Usurper of the Oaken Throne (Church Within Records - 2019)

In number 31, as we begin our journey into doom, is the epic international trio, we are proud to present Thronehammer with their first full length album. Filled with heavy tunes all throughout the record with epic guitar riffs in "Conquered and Erased", awesome choruses accompanied by the booming echoing sounds of a hammer in "Thronehammer" and wrapping up with "Usurper of the Oaken Throne"s amazingly heavy and groovy guitar riff that will stick with to any fan of melodic low-end heavy tunes. Definitely a band to keep an eye on and a great mood piece for this list!

30. Church of misery - And then there were none (Rise Above - 2016)

Coming off the depth of hell and despair, Japanese Doomsters Church of Misery released in 2016 a true monolithic gem of a doom/stoner metal. With clear influences from Cathedral in their sound and Scott Carlson in a one-off appearance as their vocalist, the band deliver their message in doom and gloom. If you fancy their sound here, you can also check their past releases with 2009's "Houses of the Unholy" being unquestionably their best effort to date (and barely missing this retrospective).

29. Whatever End - A birth of Loss (Independent - 2017)

The sole output of relatively unknown Greek prog doomsters Whatever End, "A birth of Loss" is a unique blend of avant-garde operatic vocals (that at times sound almost SOAD-like), prog metal rhythmic  switches, doomy riffs and symphonic influences, rendering them one of the most "out there" choices for this list. Among the highlights of the album are the titular song and the labyrinth-like "Evershift". A stunning release from a very promising band with hopefully many more to come!

28. The Obsessed - Sacred (Relapse - 2017)

The Obsessed finally returned after a silence of 23 years delivering 2017's Sacred. A much more rock-oriented record than the previous outputs of Wino under The Obsessed banner, it retains a sweet blend of their trademark sound with later influences from Wino's other projects showing that even among the most monolithic among us there is such a thing as progress.

27. Nekromant - The Nekromant Lives (Ripple Music - 2018)

Nekromant is another excellent doom/psychedelic band from Sweden, who after releasing a more average debut in 2017, returned with an excellent doom elegy the following year, releasing "The Nekromant Lives". Drawing influences from classic doom and 80s hard rock/heavy metal, this is a very interesting release full of melodic lines that transcend doom but still draw inspiration from it, with tracks such as "Eye of the Sky" veering further away from the doom formula while others (eg. the superb "Blood for Walpurgis") stay faithful to it.

26. Blood Ceremony - Living with the Ancients (Rise Above - 2011)

Blood Ceremony add a psychedelic note to doom and a groovy vibe that perfectly blends with female vocals. "Coven Tree" has a classic 70s feeling to it that is mixed with Ian Anderson-inspired flute notes giving a fresh vibe. The perfect mix of hard rock, doom and psychedelic tunes can be heard in "My Demon Bother" which has great Black-Sabbath-like guitar riffs and travels the listener back to the classics with a nod to the future.

You can also read our review of the more rock-oriented "The Eldritch Dark"from 2013 here.

25. Orchid -  Mouths of Madness (Nuclear Blast - 2013)

Largely almost a Black Sabbath tribute band, Orchid in their second full length release, show that despite having a sound and vocal vibe that feels as a direct continuation of Sabbath  (including Oh-yeas from singer Theo Mindell and being named after a "Master of Reality" track), they can still deliver the goods. With songs like  "Mountains of Steel", Nomad" and  "Leaving It All Behind" that Iommi himself would be proud of, there is nothing fake about the love of this band to the grand-fathers of metal. And when you are really devoted to something that always shines through!

24. Mist - Free me of the sun (Soulseller Records - 2018)

Mist is another proof that powerful female vocals are a perfect fit for heavy doom riffs if you know what you're doing. Free me of the sun is the first full-length album of the promising Slovenian band (with four out five members being female!) and is certainly one of the bands to keep an eye on when you looking for something that has that uniquely sounding Candlemass buzz! With amazingly catchy songs such as the "White Torch" showcasing a wide vocal range of the lead singer and a catchy chorus what more can anyone ask?

23. Lord Vigo - Six must die (No Remorse - 2018)

 Lord Vigo are truly an excellent Doom metal band, with both their records being criminally underrated by true purists of the genre, in my humble opinion. Six Must Die was chosen for this list as it marginally surpasses its predecessor in terms of replay  value, but both albums are true diamonds in the rough for epic doom metal fans. The power trio from Germany draw influences from both the epicness of Candlemass and the monolithic nature of the early Cathedral albums to present an almost perfect blend of epic doom  that renders this work among the best of the genre from newcomer acts this decade!

22. Isole - The Calm Hunter (Cyclone Empire - 2014)

Isole have released other exceptional Doom/Epic records before, but to my humble opinion, The Calm Hunter is their best release by far. Here, they grow out of their influences and leave behind their Doomier side in favour of a more epic approach, though there are definitely elements that hint at the origins of the band. 

There are songs that have a more progressive structure ("My Regret", "Into Oblivion") , while others adopt a more straightforward  doom approach ("Dead to Me"), but overall the album works pretty well and creates a sombre atmosphere that will haunt you every time you have a go at it.


21. Destroyer of Light - Chamber of Horrors (Heavy Friends Records - 2017) 

Destroyer of Light is a Texan four-piece "horror" doom metal band that truly blossomed in this, their second release. Combining doom riffs and methodically building the melody over the course of the tracks, being willing to experiment with different vocal approaches even within the same tracks and some light influence from stoner/southern music that is barely noticeable but still manages to infuse their sombre doom with its own identity, the band achieved what other newcomers only dream of: to forge its own identity without reinventing the wheel!

20.  Paradise Lost - Medusa (Nuclear Blast - 2017)

 The lords of British doom return triumphantly with an album that returns them to their roots. Taking inspiration from their earlier years and fusing elements that made them what they are over the years, Paradise Lost once more deliver a true masterpiece of doom/death(!). The last song from the predecessor of Medusa ("Return to the Sun") was a warning shot, however it is here that true DOOM masters return. The album acts as a celebration of that return, with Nick Holmes spewing poison with every word, Greg Macintosh tunes the guitars to the abyss and the trademark riffs of the band suddenly sound sinister and ominous, warning of death and horror at every turn. A fucking monolith of a doom metal album!

19. Demon Head - Ride the wilderness (The Charming Man Records - 2015)

The Danes come down from the North with their amazing debut album, Ride the wilderness (which was followed by two equally engaging albums in 2017 & 2019).  If you are looking for an early Sabbath mood but with more rough Pentagram/Danzig vocals that reek of manliness, this is the album for you. You can read our full review of the album here.

18. Burning Saviours - Death (Transubstans Records - 2018)

Blending Pentagam-influneced doom melodies along with  US heavy metal riffing, Burning Saviours from Sweden are a more metallic version of compatriot psychedelic/occult rockers Witchcraft. In their fifth full length, simply called "Death", they create an almost perfect blend of their various elements, from the doomy Draug, to the almost Doomsword-like "Crusade of Evil" and the infectious awesomeness of Häxnatten, this is a great album that at 35 minutes feels just about tight enough to not include any fillers at all, but deliver the goods!

17. Dautha - Brethren of the Black Soil (Van Records - 2018)

Dautha are an epic doom project from Norrköping, which in their debut album impress by using a combination of epic vocals, My Dying Bide-esque riffing and violins with an overlay of traditional folk aesthetic. By examining tragic themes (like The Children's Crusade in the aptly named track), Doom here is not just in the music but in the essence of the band. Choirs, operatic vocals, any trick in the book is fair game for these guys as they forge their way into the darkest night howling "Memento Mori".

16. Monasterium - Church of Bones (Nine Records - 2019)

Finally for this part, we proudly present Monasterium from Poland with their very recent second full-length release, "Church of Bones". Monasterium are a very orthodox epic doom band, which is bound to make whoever listen to their album have intense flashbacks of Messiah-era Candlemass, and you know what? They do it better than anyone out there right now! The album could easily be a proud successor to "Ancient Dreams", and with tracks like La Danse Macabre", "The Order of the Dragon", and "The Last Templar" which really kick motherfucking ass you  can be sure that these guys are here to stay!


Part 2 is coming soon!

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

#1 - Top of 2018

A Perfect Circle - Eat the Elephant (BMG)

2018 was a shitty year all-around for humanity. Hell, the whole decade of the 2010s was probably one of the low points of  the post-WWII era in terms of the fall in the quality of life of people, the rise of xenophobia, religious extremism, regressive values, and consumerism frenzy. Maynard and Howerdel in this album distil the turd that is the world of today and bottle it in one truly great album that's not pulling any punches. Going in depth into the songs, "Eat the Elephant" was written as a tribute to Chester from Linking Park, with lyrics emphasising a "you can be the change" message, and soft alternative rock music undertones. "Disillusioned" discusses technology addiction and alienation through  incredibly haunting vocal lines from Maynard in a quiet and solemn warmth that increases in tone as the song progresses. Musically, the song is probably the one closest to older APC albums. Next up, "The Contrarian" examines politicians and their duplicity using a subversively menacing tone, while musically dipping in a territory more closely linked to Keenan's other band [Puscifer]. "The Doomed" has an almost doom/prog feel to it with quite heavy riffing for the band's standards, while at the same time discussing how there has been a subversion of values exalting greed and violence while decent people are essentially fucked. "So long and Thanks for All the Fish" references the famous expression from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" told by the dolphins as they flew away from earth ,shortly before its destruction.The song itself alludes to the end of the world and how in our current apathetic state not even that would make us move. It is a beautiful song with beautiful orchestral arrangements and a very catchy main melodic line that follows through as the world burns and people just stare at their TV to learn how the world ended. "TalkTalk" is about faith/thoughts & prayers over action accompanied with an alt metal vibe and a very APC riff smack in the middle. "By and Down the River" has been around since 2011 (!) and was added here, despite not being so consistent thematically with the rest of the album as it is mostly about friendship/adoration and the flip-side of those concepts. "Delicious" draws from Mer de Noms (which does makes sense as it was first conceived around then) with fresh lyrics added to it, again alluding to current politic climate. "DLB"here, serves as an instrumental bridge to the latter part of the record composed of 3 songs that act in unison. The first, "Hourglass" is a very dynamic track using a lot of electronic sounds and revealing a very different side to APC, with Maynard announcing that time is running out and the system is breaking down. "Feathers" is not only about refugees but also about self-imposed differences between individuals and the difficulty of connecting, but through tragedy. Finally, "Get the Lead out" plays out like a hypnosis exercise with a beat hypnotically repeating while a pop melodic line is faintly heard ushering into action. Again the electronic elements are prominent, but that time in a soft faded out way. APC have truly returned with one of the best records of this decade, a contemporary work of art that truly stands above genres and music labelling.


Below are the music videos for "The Doomed",  "Disillusioned" and "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish".