Friday, March 12, 2010

Bleak and Destroyed by Terrorizer

When I started really going nuts over metal, shortly after relocating to the tiny town of St. Paul, Nebraska for my first job as an attorney, I was looking for as much information as I could find to determine which bands to check out. Somewhere along the way, I happened upon an ad by Terrorizer for a free doom metal compilation. Since I enjoyed some doom metal (although I had not heard much at first), I decided to give it a shot. I had to pay some money for shipping since Terrorizer is a UK-based magazine, but not a big deal. I got the album a couple of weeks later, and it was very helpful in picking out some more bands to check out further. I do realize now that I did not find as many as intended, but Candlemass, My Dying Bride, Cathedral, and Reverend Bizarre are all bands that it helped me find.

Track by track:

The Obsessed: The Obsessed is Wino's band formed prior to his involvement with Saint Vitus and about a million other bands. The band has actually been broken up since 1995, so this is not a new track by the band, it actually appeared on their 1994 album. This is traditional Sabbath-esque doom with somewhat strained vocals. I'm not a big fan of the vocals, but everything else is pretty good.

Pentagram: Pentagram is quite possibly the first American metal band, having formed in the early 1970's. They were also a major band in shaping the doom metal scene. As such, they did sound a lot like Black Sabbath, although they took things even further with the doom sound. Again, the music is excellent here, but the singer's voice needs some getting used to.

Candlemass: Candlemass is perhaps the most well-known doom metal band. This is off of the album reuniting the band with erstwhile singer Messiah Marcolin who has become known as the voice of the band. This reunion only lasted one album. But this is the best track off of that album as it speeds things up, but is no less doomy.

My Dying Bride: The UK gothic/doom metal band has been one of the most successful doom metal bands. Originally part of a scene including Paradise Lost and The Gathering, My Dying Bride is the only one still playing doom metal. This is easily the slowest track on the album, flirting with funeral doom speeds. It's extremely slow and depressing, something MDB has become quite well-known for over the years.

Cathedral: Lee Dorrian left Napalm Death because he did not like the direction the band was heading in, so he formed Cathedral, one of the first death/doom metal bands. This is a very bass-heavy track and it rumbles along at a fairly quick pace with Dorrian yelling over the top of everything. It's a little heavier than most of the stuff I have heard from them. but nothing wrong with that.

Reverend Bizarre: The Finnish band is at the forefront of the "true doom metal" movement. This song grabbed my attention in a big way and I bought the album it appears on. Reverend Bizarre was a great doom metal band that went out a little too early, but they did it their own way. Great song. Fast and fun as hell.

Witchcraft: I am not overly familiar with this band, but they formed in 2000 in Sweden. This is a surprisingly short track for a doom metal band. This song really sounds like it could have come out on Black Sabbath's debut album. The singer even sounds a little like Ozzy. It's quite incredible. I want to hear more.

Unearthly Trance: This is a sludge/doom metal band on Southern Lord records, not a label I place a whole lot of trust in. The music basically sounds like a slower and doomier Lair of the Minotaur with rougher vocals. It just doesn't do much for me. The vocals are also buried in the mix, so it's hard to hear.

My Shameful: My Shameful is another newer doom metal band, having only formed in 1999. This is similar to the My Dying Bride track in that it is morosely slow. The vocals are delivered in a death metal-style growl. It kind of reminds me of Coffins at their slowest speeds in that it has similar vocals and very down-tuned riffs. It's not bad, but it's not the best on the album.

World Below: There's not a lot of information out there about this band. I had never heard of them before, or since getting this album. It's a shame too, because they are pretty decent. They play a very traditional style of doom metal, with some Southern influences. It sounds like something that would be played in a dingy bar in the Deep South, for the first part of the song anyway, then it shifts gears and some hardcore influences shine through. The vocals are not great, but they fit with the rest of the image.

Ablaze in Hatred: This is an extremely good death/doom metal band and one band I really want to investigate further. This band sounds a lot like Swallow the Sun, but with more melodic death. That's perfectly fine with me as Swallow the Sun is a great band. The music is somewhat melodic, but deeply depressing. There are keyboards adding flourishes of light in the darkness of the rest of the track. The vocals are also very similar to Swallow the Sun. This is a very strong track.

Orodruin: Another newer band, Orodruin formed in NY and plays traditional-sounding doom metal. This band also manages to sound quite abit like early 1970's era Black Sabbath, and has some very impressive guitar soloing going throughout. Their choral sections dive into Alice In Chains territory adding another dimension to the overall sound. It kind of meanders around at some points threatening to lose the listener but then comes charging back.

The Hidden Hand: This album started with one Wino project and ended with another. The Hidden Hand formed in 2002 and last five years before Wino ended the project and restarted Saint Vitus. This is the shortest song on the album at less than three minutes. Very short for doom metal. But it's pretty fast too. The vocals are still not really great, but the song is decent.

Doom metal has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts over the last decade or so. There are quite a few very good bands that could have easily made it onto this album, such as Electric Wizard, The Gates of Slumber, Hour of 13, Syrach, Mourning Beloveth, Misery's Omen, Novembers Doom, Coffins, and more.

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