Much of metal’s storied history has been about seeking to up the ante, constantly chasing that depraved high of hearing something even more extreme than what came before. For many this has meant striving for speed, but within the gloomy depths of doom and sludge, artists have been seeking to push deeper into the murk of existential dread by slowing everything down to agonising paces. Nowadays the doom tag is as blurred as any other, loosely spanning everything from energetic stoner rock to achingly desolate sludge. This list features both and everything in between, even finding room for some theatrical prog-doom and fuzzy Sabbath worship for good measure.
Having trawled the corners of social media and platforms like Bandcamp, we present to you ten great doom metal artists you might not be aware of. Enjoy.
With a guitar tone that could melt steel, utterly corrosive vocals and a style that keeps you on your toes by drifting from chugging death-doom to bitter sludge to steamrolling doom, it is an absolute travesty that Gone have not garnered more attention thus far. In fairness, their debut release dropped only last month, but it’s one that lovers of all things nasty and bleak (that’s what you’re here for, is it not?) simply need to be tuning into. It also boasts one of the gnarliest lines we’ve heard in some time – “I am dissolving in my own spit.” Love it.
The Mountain King
It’s tradition that these Under The Radar lists feature at least one band already on their way to gaining the recognition they deserve, and this time around it’s The Mountain King, whose latest release WolloW dropped just last month via Cursed Monk Records. True to the band’s experimental, psychedelic spirit, the album is a strange affair, making use of sonic palindromes that deliver one hell of a pay-off if you sit down to experience the album in full. Even without that premise it’s an evocative affair though, blending shoegazey ambience with doomy post-rock and bizarre bouts of subdued, atmospheric extreme metal.
Of Deities And Dust
Undoubtedly the proggiest name on this list, this Texas trio are fantastically fun to listen to, with sci-fi and fantasy-inspired lyrics that are delivered with a wonderfully theatrical flair. Modern doom often forgets how to have fun, and understandably so given that it’s literally called doom, but some of the genre’s most classic artists loved to go ham on the melodrama and it’s always a trip. Stick on Look Into The Soul Mirror and have a ball. Go on, you’ll thank us for it.
Death Machines don’t just do doom. They do a caustic mesh of blackened crust, oppressive sludge and frenzied grind. But their squalid music has the rotten core of doom, measuredly clambering forward like rusted machinery caked in matted hair and dried blood. To date, they have just the one demo to their name, but whether it’s the brief but corrosive ‘Raise A Smile’ or the deliciously filthy nine-minute wallow that is ‘Disappearance’, the atmosphere is dense, an impenetrable miasma seeping out of your very headphones. Death Machines’ incipient potency makes them an exciting prospect. Keep your eye on ‘em.
There’s not much point being a doom band if you’re not going to embrace the gloom, something that Colorado four-piece Postnihilist have very much taken to heart. Their debut release, a self-titled LP spanning four tracks each over nine minutes long, oozes in sludgy filth and wallows in the utter desolation of existential dread. The band have been strangely quiet for some time now and it’d be a real shame if we don’t hear from them again, but even if they’re gone for good you’ll want to give this one a listen. It’s one of the most emotionally raw albums you’ll hear, so don’t let it fade from memory.
If recent discoveries regarding Electric Wizard’s apparent willingness to work with nazi-affiliated labels has left you turning away from their discography, then might we suggest you lend your ear to this Australian trio instead? Potion’s churning rhythms boast the same kind of hallucinogenic quality with a potency the Wizard haven’t managed in years. The band have nigh-on perfected the ability to combine the aggressive with the otherworldly too, as swirling melodies sit atop the crushing weight of pummelling percussion. Can’t wait to hear more from this lot.
To date this London four-piece have released a total of just two songs, but rather than rough lo-fi recordings their first demo was recorded with esteemed producer Wayne Adams and thus boasts an oomph that many stoner doom bands could only dream of. Opener ‘Insecure’ is a lively hard rock rager spearheaded by a steamrolling groove whilst the longer ‘Black Tower’ is a doomier proposition that builds slowly before finding a rollicking energy culminating in a scorching solo. Peppier than the rest of this list, but a little bit of levity amongst all this doom and gloom doesn’t go awry.
Old Horn Tooth
Is doom really doom if it doesn’t operate at glacial paces? This London trio has a penchant for longer tracks, and their latest release is a 21-minute affair that kicks off with four minutes and twenty seconds (wahey) of ceremonial organ before the doom itself even rears its head. It’s worth the wait though, the band bringing in that sinister pang of feedback before the churning riffs break into their mountainous flow. It’s textbook stoner doom, drenched in glorious fuzz, but the importance of good production (once again courtesy of Wayne Adams) cannot be overstated, the grooves hammering home in a way that some underground bands can only dream of.
Agonisingly slow drums, fuzz-drenched riffs and vocals that sound like they were recorded underwater – Wytch Goat’s sound makes no illusions to being anything other than doom, plain and simple. But done well, sometimes that’s all you need. What the Virginia ensemble excel at is the ability to show restraint, allowing their songs to plod along and savour the atmosphere, only trotting into a gallop when absolutely necessary. Hypnotic lo-fi doom of the highest order.
Lead Desert Blues
Despite a noticeable proclivity towards heavy blues-laden doom, this London duo also boast a punky edge exemplified by a couple of their shorter numbers, which merge a snarling angst with stoner grooves to great effect. Their debut release No Need is rough around the edges in the best of ways, the sort of energetic affair that surely works well in the live environment – here’s hoping we’re able to catch them at a show sometime soon. Coming up on two years since their debut, we’re also tentatively hoping that some new music might be on the cards sometime in the not-too-distant future. No pressure though, lads.
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Words: George Parr