the third piece of art i bought is the grimalkin by the german prog/doom project noekk. the cover depicts a beautiful black and white image of an old, wooden house with a window and lots of green in front of it, which made me wanting to listen to it. the album begins very interesting, with a small foreplay which sounds both strange, somehow, and, at the same time, makes the prog interested hearer curious on how this thing continues. the music evolves into a stream of various styles interwoven to a beauty, taking you by your hand, pulling you into a colorful world of fantasy. featuring three tracks, of eleven, ten and twenty minutes, this album sounds like a real gem of beautiful prog, which is not only a beautyful soundscape, but also tells stories, of beautiful dream worlds, having dark, gloomy parts, secrets.
posts about doom music.
another beauty i found while browsing around in the record store is apokatastasia‘s demo waiting four. apokatastasia is a swiss progressive/experimental metal band, featuring besides classical instruments like guitars, bass, drums also violoncellos and e-cellos. the demo features thirty minutes of a gloomy trip through a mystic world. beginning with a drone, turning into the sound of someone running, maybe fleeing. the music is intense, progressive, dark. the (violon)cello is perfectly integrated into the music, sounding almost like its perfectly normal to have cellos playing. equipped with screams, choirs, and sound effects like steps, breathing, the music turns into a thirty minutes long stream of horror, gloom, darkness, reminding me of the blair witch project. in particular in the running scenes at the beginning and at the end, i can almost see the scenes with my inner eye, like taken with a shaky handheld camera. makes me feel the fear.
i hope i’ll get hold of the band’s first album, shedding, somewhen near in the future.
while browsing around in my favorite music store in town some time ago, i stumbled across several very good albums. one of them, about whom i want to write today, is ashes against the grain by the american folk/black/doom metal band agalloch.
a stream of dark, intense music. full of beautiful, sad melodies. doomy. somehow, catchy, too. creating mental images.
the first track, limbs, is a very good example for this. i feel beauty and despair, going hand in hand.
also a very beautiful song is this mountain on which you will die, with eyes closed, i feel like through a foggy, snow-white landscape in the mountains. a gloomy atmosphere is building up. staying, while the music fades out…
another beauty is not unlike the waves, beginning with the sound of waves. powerful; full of energy, pushing forward, almost no rest. clean vocals mixing with screaming. beautiful.
the album ends with the three-parter our fortress is burning…. the first part is more quiet, slow. at the end, distorted guitars are lightening up in the background, like flames starting to lick, trying to spread. in part two, they gain more intense, spreading over the fortress, while in the more drony part three, they eat up everything. destruction. death. the end has begun.
today i stumbled about a song called gloomy sunday, originally composed by the hungarian pianist rezső seress. there are probably as many urban myths about this song, which is also known as the hungarian suicide song, as there are cover versions… i like the original lyrics the most; you can read them here (both the original hungarian version and a literal translation). reads like a typical doom song, just written around 50 years too early…
for me, it seems like a really strange idea to kill yourself because of listening to a song, and in particular, it seems really strange to blame a song for making people commit suicide. for me, it sounds like an excuse for not having to search for other reaons… maybe it was the last straw to tip people off, or suicideers decided to listen to it on or shortly before their suicide because it expresses their feelings.
but anyway. i’m somehow wondering whether a doom metal band has covered this one, too; the only metal band i found who did this is a german black metal act called negator; a video of a life performance can be seen at their homepage (don’t watch it if you don’t like black metal); they are performing sam m. lewis‘ english version of the song. i didn’t like it too much, first of all because i don’t think black metal fits here and, secondly, i’d prefer something more close to the original lyrics.
it is autumn and the leaves are falling
all love has died on earth
the wind is weeping with sorrowful tears
my heart will never hope for a new spring again
my tears and my sorrows are all in vain
people are heartless, greedy and wicked…
literal translation of the first stanza taken from phespirit.info.
here i want to write a bit about doom music, as a huge part of the music i listen to can be counted to this category. in general, it can be characterized as slow, heavy music with dark lyrics, dealing with depression, death, despair, gloom, dying, doomed/unhappy love, and despair. it appears in various shapes, blended with many different genres, including death metal, ambient, noise, gothic music and jazz. even though non-metal doom music does exists, most of doom music is probably metal.
(note that i like all the bands i mention here quite alot, except probably the older stuff of celtic frost which, i have to admit, is mostly unknown to me.)
one of the more traditional doom metal bands is candlemass, with their 1986 album epicus doomicus metallicus being a major landmark in the doom metal genre. the album is opened by the song solitude (“please let me die in solitude”) which is, in my opinion, one of the best doom songs.
an important crossover doom genre is death/doom which is, surprise!, a crossover between death metal and doom music. usually a bit faster than other doom styles but still being way slower than usual death metal, it features death growls, sometimes mixed with clean vocals, and certain playing styles from death metal such as fast double bass kicking. two bands in this genre i like are swallow the sun—one of my most favorite bands; see here— and novembers doom. notably are also the older works of bands as anathema (see here), now playing atmospheric metal, the gathering (see here), now playing progressive/alternative/trip rock, and sentenced—another one of my most favorite bands; see here—, who later turned to more gothic doom or plain heavy metal, before disbanding 2005.
out of death/doom, another doom crossover called funeral doom developed, by slowing down the music, resulting in something which is as slow as a funeral march, hence hinting where its name comes from. besides the lack of speed, the music is even heavier, but also features more ambient like parts. two bands in this category are tyranny and unholy (see here).
related to funeral doom is drone doom, abstracting even more by reducing to a kind of minimalistic music, mainly consisting of a stream of drones, i.e. very long lasting notes, while often lacking traditional music structures like rythm or melody, with vocals often so distorted that they are barely understandable. the songs usually last very long, from something between ten and twenty minutes to sometimes filling a whole cd with one song. two important bands in this genre are sunn o))) and boris (see here).
another doom genre which is pretty detached from metal is doom jazz or noir jazz, a blend of doom music and jazz. the only example i know is bohren & der club of gore, a german band who started mixing jazz with hardcore and ambient, resulting in some kind of doom music. later, when their guitar player left, they replaced him by a saxophonist, turning the band completely into a jazz ensemble. their current style is a very dark kind of jazz, without vocals, somehow almost more ambient, somehow similar to funeral doom.
a lot of other more experimental acts exist, like early the 3rd and the mortal (see also here) stuff, which can be described as experimental/atmospheric doom, or the zürich based metal legend celtic frost, whose last album monotheist could be in parts counted as a certain kind of avantgarde/experimental doom.
another, more “standard” doom metal approach is gothic doom, a mixture of doom with gothic metal. my favorite in this area is type o negative, and in particular their most depressing album world coming down. some bands which i would also count into this category are tiamat, lake of tears and later sentenced. tiamat evolved more to gothic rock and had included also different influences besides gothic doom. sentenced began with death/doom, switching to more gothic doom and finally more to a kind of heavy/gothic metal. lake of tears, whose origin lay more in the death/doom origin, went through a change between several different genres; the albums which fit best as gothic doom are headstones, a crimson cosmos and forever autumn, all being somehow different to each other.