Anybody else feel like this was a blur of a year? (Yes, wtf? -JJ) I was thinking about all the end of the year stuff and realized, “Holy shit, this year was way faster than most, right?” At the same time, it also feels like nothing happened this year. It was a weird year that was both wildly entertaining and outrageously uneventful. Is it because I’m 35 and growing ever older? Could be. Maybe this is about the age when I start leaning in to “old man” qualities, like time seeming to pass faster, waking up with aches in my bones, and complaining about kids skateboarding on the sidewalk.
Weird start, but I’ll bring it back with this: this was a great year to write about doom metal. Back in January, I decided I wasn’t going to participate in the “rat race” and try to listen to every single new release I could get my hands on. It’s exhausting for one thing. For another, why subject myself to things I might not enjoy when I can engage with things I know I’ll like? Variety is the spice of life, but maybe it’s alright to just feel good with things you know. Am I ever glad I did that because this was a good year for Doomsday. You’ll see momentarily because this list is straight bangers.
As I reviewed my own records for the year, I noticed a few uplifting trends:
- Genre mixing is the way to go. There were quite a few things on my list that combined musical ideas. I noticed a lot of hyphens in the genre column of my music tracking spreadsheet. My best guess for this is that mixing musical ideas is just more interesting than doing the straight genre record. I don’t mean to say that’s a bad thing, of course, but I know I enjoyed more [genre]-[genre] records overall.
- As weed becomes legal, stoner jams become stronger. I listened to A LOT of stoner bands this year. I can’t help but think it’s because weed is legal more widely now, though it certainly helped that a lot of good stoner albums came out this year. Stoner-influenced music just feels good to me, and maybe a lot of musicians felt the same this year. This year, we also had quite a few stoner records that weren’t ONLY about weed and didn’t just include blues-based fuzz riffs and that’s it. They were actually genuinely interesting even if you don’t always appreciate the psychedelic side of life.
- We still enjoy our music blackened. I’ll admit that I have a personal affinity for black metal. It’s probably my favorite subgenre outside of doom. You’ll have to head over and read our friends on Kvlt Kolvmn for the overall view, but it certainly feels like black metal is becoming a more and more popular sound to achieve. It’s certainly bleeding into Doomsday selections each month. I think that’s as much a reflection of the times we’re living in as it is the sound itself, but that shouldn’t take away from the monster records that have been coming out with the evil edge to them you can only get in black metal.
It seems like more and more artists are arriving on the scene to break with tradition and form their own paths. More artists are bringing in their own unique influences from outside the traditional ideas of Black Sabbath. More bands incorporate ideas from jazz, electronica, folk, and so many other places. It’s been wild to experience how genre twisting and experimentation are becoming increasingly popular. The results are altering how we perceive not only our preferred sounds but music in general. My only wish is that 2022 brings in more of these ideas.
Before we go any further, I just want to thank everybody. From Jordan & Eden contributing every month to all of you reading the column and expanding your music palettes, I thank you for hanging out with me in my corner of the internet. I hope Doomsday brought you all new music this year that intrigued you and brought you pleasure. My goal is to do more of the same next year but even better.
Now, to the list! If you remember from last year, we abandoned the traditional ranked order list in favor of a looser “here’s what we loved” kind of thing. With all the records we listen to every year, a hard-and-fast ranking system would be neither genuinely informative to you or particularly fun for us to write. We’re going to do the same this year. Music isn’t a competition anyway, so why turn it into one? Here’s our big long list of doom records we loved this year. LET’S BRING THE HEAT, BOYS!
ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL – ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL
Out of the releases which will appear on this list that channel the grandiose, some might even say the cosmic, energies that doom metal is known for conjuring up, ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL’s mind-boggling self-titled, debut album might just be the most majestic. Born from a collaboration between two French bands (remember the geo-location for later down the list), Endless Floods and Greyfell, ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL is an album which channels the same sort of vibes we might association with acts like Swarm of the Sun or Flesh of the Stars. These are namely spacious, slow-moving, intensely melancholic doom that channels elements of funeral doom, lush synths, and crushing heaviness to generate an irresistible, evocative, and dream-like sort of doom metal.
But on ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL, the two groups have managed to take this sort of sound and extrapolate it further, adding elements from post-punk, drone, and psychedelic rock into the mix which truly elevate the release to its own level. Simply put, many albums on this list deserve the title of “journey” to them but ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL perhaps deserves it the most. It is a massive, evocative, and fascinatingly expansive album which will take you several listens to truly map out. But it is well worth the effort, as it displays one of the more complete and effective versions of its specific take on doom metal that I’ve heard in the last few years.
Blackwater Holylight – Silence/Motion
What do you get when you combine doom with the haunting dynamics of Chelsea Wolfe, the glammy dreamdoom of Vanishing Kids, and the dark garage-psych notes of LA Witch? Something super close to Blackwater Holylight’s Silence/Motion, of course. To be honest, I was late to the party on this record because I assumed it to be a more standard stoner/doom affair. So, thanks to this very column, I had my course corrected and have since had this record as part of my regular rotation. Though not as overtly sonically heavy as others on this list, Silence/Motion delivers on the creative and spiritual fronts. It’s here that Blackwater Holylight manifests their power and break out of the confines of traditional stoner/doom.
Vocalist/bassist Allison “Sunny” Faris’ timbre works exceptionally well across the various spheres of Silence/Motion’s doom, goth rock, psych, prog, et al. sound. In addition to the more adventurous songwriting on this effort, another big part of what pulls everything together is the variety of synth textures on this record. They often ground the group as they lend color and dimension throughout their furthest reaches. Doomy segments feel bigger (“Sillence/Motion”), psych elements get trippier (“Around You”), prog flavors become richer (“Who The Hell”), and they pair phenomenally with the occasional blackened moment (“Every Corner”). Mikayla Mayhew’s playing is extremely versatile, too, working with a similarly broad palette of sounds that keeps everything coherent and novelty-free. Silence/Motion has a ton to offer for those open to something a little more genre agnostic.
Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush
It was a physical impossibility for me to not write about this album. I mean, how could you not write about an album that’s fundamentally of the doom and stoner genre but no one can really seem to agree on how exactly? I’ve seen the sludge, progressive, doom, stoner, psychedelic, experimental, rock, and avant-garde labels assigned to it. I have seen people say it is heavier than their previous releases and seen people saying it is less heavy and more progressive. But whenever I see someone talking about this album they unequivocally love it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some people do. But I am simply blocking those people from existence because they are wrong.
At its bottom line, whatever moniker or genre disclaimer you’d like to attach to it, Family The Smiling Thrush is yet another entry in one of the more exciting careers I’ve had the pleasure of following on the blog. Boss Keloid have been going from strength to strength over the last few years and releases and Family The Smiling Thrush is perhaps the most cohesive, powerful, and downright nasty they’ve sounded, ever. And it also manages to be a weird concept album about a family of plants, a meditation on the importance of self-confidence, and a mind-bogglingly musical album as well. Alright, fuck this. Just listen to this album or be forever Mistaken.
Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal
Few bands are able to crack best of the year lists in consecutive years. It takes some particularly talented artists to make music this consistently good. But that’s why Crystal Coffin is such a unique outfit. Last year’s The Transformation Room was hailed as a hell of an example of what blackened music could be, and the Vancouver trio truly outdid themselves with this year’s The Starway Eternal. You can hear where the band started when you listen to the two records in a row, so one album really does build off of the previous entry. And while The Transformation Room is a personal favorite, The Starway Eternal is something else entirely. Crystal Coffin’s version of blackened sludge and doom is well-suited for this kind of themed album telling the story of a cosmic spiritual journey laced with human tragedy, and we were here for it.
What impressed me the most about Starway was how much the band was able to expand their sound. What they left off with on the previous record was already quite impressive, but the way the band was able to add a progressive element to songwriting was not only fitting but also necessary. It really blew the doors off of what the band was capable of, and they wouldn’t have been able to make the record they did this year without it. At the same time, they stuck to their roots and made something with the kind of atmosphere and attitude needed to tell this story. At the beginning of this year, a Crystal Coffin follow-up was one of the least expected things on my list. I had few expectations for this record, and those were blown into dust like Chernobyl itself. If you need an atomic trip to the cosmos, look no further than The Starway Eternal.
Doctor Smoke – Dreamers and the Dead
Among the many things I’ve been thankful for since starting to write the blog, I think I’m most thankful for taking the initiative to claim traditional metal bands as part of Doomsday. This decision allowed me to write about a lot of things, but this year it let me extol the virtues of Doctor Smoke and their latest, Dreamers and the Dead. I found this record by just combing through recent releases on Bandcamp, and god-DAMN what a find I made here. Dreamers and the Dead represents everything fun about heavy metal music in 2021. The riffs are wonderful ear candy to me, and the production on the record makes this seem like a big budget blockbuster of a record. When I found it, it was exactly what I needed to listen to.
The craft of songwriting is a very subtle and difficult art to master. Doctor Smoke has impressed me the most simply due to the clear diligence on display on Dreamers and the Dead. Each track has been fine-tuned to be the perfect vessel for the musical ideas. For example, opening track “Reborn Into Darkness” is so subtlety crafted as to ensure there isn’t a single unintentional dead spot on the entire track. The main verse riff is very intricately designed, and the drums fill what few gaps there are in between those notes to give the track a funky syncopation that propels the rhythms forward. And that’s just the opener! This album is full of examples like this, and it’s what I want to hear from musicians on these kinds of records. It’s a shining example of what more traditional sounding bands can be.
Dream Unending – Tide Turns Eternal
I listened to a lot of records this year. Maybe not as many as years past, but still I put a lot of music into my ears. Earlier in the year, I decided I was more interested in 2 things: music I actually wanted to listen to instead of what critics tell me I should listen to, and quality over quantity. When Dream Unending appeared in my inbox, I read a few sentences of the marketing blurb and put Tide Turns Eternal on full blast. “Holy damn,” I thought. “This might be the most interesting thing I’ve heard this year.” And that held true for the final 7 weeks of the year. This unique package mixing elements of shoegaze with death and doom metal certainly scratched all of my itches, but it was also very artfully and gracefully constructed in a way that still feels very emotional despite the aggressive metal elements. Tide Turns Eternal is a record I’m still scratching my head over after numerous plays, and that’s why it’s on this list.
The package is most surprising to me considering the minds behind it are also the minds behind Tomb Mold and Innumerable Forms. Both are bands I dig a lot, but they’re not bands I associate with the word “restraint”. Tide Turns Eternal could’ve just been “more of the same” from two excellent death and doom metal musicians, but it’s wholly different from its antecedents. It also doesn’t engage in other tropes you might connect to, like making a stoner doom record or something along those lines. Instead, Tide forges its own path unlike any band I’ve heard in a long time. It’s somehow psychedelic and grounded at the same time. There are a lot of sounds that would make me go into space on their own, but it’s also life-affirming and connects with the listener. It’s a very powerful experience that I’m glad I’ve had. I could certainly understand if Dream Unending isn’t your thing, but you have no excuse to skip listening to this record.
Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage
As much as I love every album on this list, I know with a million percent of my entire heart and brain that Power Wisdom Courage is far and away my favorite album of the year. Which is weird since Fierce Deity has so much power metal influence, and I really don’t like power metal. But that’s just the power of the Triforce over me, I guess. Don’t worry, I’m not just praising this record due to the Legend of Zelda influence. Not only is the Australian one-man outfit making some powerful jams; it’s also incredibly well-written, composed, and executed. If you’re not holding invisible oranges and mouthing the lyrics while blasting it in your ears, then you’re just not getting the message.
The 3 tracks of Power Wisdom Courage take you on quite the journey. It is the story of three entities trying to simply understand their place in the world (not completely dissimilar to a certain fantasy universe). That world is a large one, frequently overwhelming and oppressive in its size and danger. There is a lot to discover and see in the world, and you can feel that in all 3 of the tracks on the record. Jonathon Barwick, the man behind Fierce Deity, has made an incredibly powerful record that takes the listener on an epic journey. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. If you haven’t yet listened to Power Wisdom Courage, ya done screwed up. But you can fix that right now.
Five the Hierophant – Through Aureate Void
Since first discovering it for myself, I’ve become fascinated with doom jazz. It’s such a unique form of musical expression to me for its ability to create atmosphere through a refined medium. While I don’t know everything about it, I do know that Five the Hierophant was the best example of it I heard this year. Unlike other examples I’ve heard, there is an undeniable groove throughout their latest record, Through Aureate Void. It’s absolutely entrancing and overwhelming. I found myself completely lost in the entire record, so I knew after a single play through that I would be talking about this brilliant record right now.
As I’ve played this multiple times this year, it’s slowly dawned on me what makes this record so special. There’s a mystery to it that I find irresistible. It’s like the soundtrack for a movie David Lynch hasn’t made yet. That mystery is intoxicating and alluring to me, drawing me in and seducing me. I can’t help it. Grooves on tracks like “Leaf in the Current” and “Fire from Frozen Cloud” make me want to drop everything I’m doing, close my eyes, and bob my head along with the rhythm. Those rhythms put me in a dream-like state where I’m simply being pulled along by the music so my mind can wander wherever it pleases. For that feeling alone, Through Aureate Void will be a record I always return to. If that doesn’t qualify it to be here, then I don’t know what I’m writing for.
Green Lung – Black Harvest
There is a swagger that only doom metal can have. It’s a special feeling that makes one want to hang out with witches in a leather jacket. Green Lung’s latest, Black Harvest, gave me that feeling. It’s a wonderful throwback kind of feeling that harkens back to the origins of metal and just feels uniquely British. Everything about it, much like the previous record Woodland Rites, is big, brash, and spooky that makes Green Lung such a fun outfit. But the band also shows that you can make fun music that’s well made, brilliantly written, and critically praised. Not many bands can say they’ve done that, and fewer can say they’ve done it with consecutive records.
Everything the band did on Woodland Rites is on Black Harvest but better. Not only does the band have a better idea of how produce a record in the studio now, but they also figured out how to use it to enhance their music. The songs sound more sonically polished on Black Harvest, and the production qualities on here serve their songs and give them a better presentation here. I’d be remiss to say the band was missing something before, but they certainly found something here. Musically, the riffs melted my face; the organ sent me to space; and the rhythms made me dance my ass off. On top of all that, the lyrics took me on a spooky journey and were delivered with a powerful vocal style. I can’t say much more other than Black Harvest just made me feel good all over. That’s all I wanted for a follow-up from Green Lung, and my expectations were greatly beaten.
Holy Monitor – Southern Lights
Together with not partaking in weed (not out of any ideology, I just don’t like the experience), I also don’t have much truck with a lot of the Eastern philosophy ideas and vibes that permeate much of stoner music. But when it’s done right, both the heady sensations of trips and the intriguing visuals, aesthetics, and ideas of the rich cultures of Central and Eastern Asia can be extremely appealing grounds for music and art in general. Case in point, Holy Monitor’s Southern Lights which has the sheen to it of mystical trip out in the desert or perhaps a fever dream that travels up a lost mountain to gaze at the stars.
Put more musically, Holy Monitor’s release from this year is some of the more trippy, elongated, and fuzzy stoner rock I heard this year and I absolutely love it for that. The drawing vocals, the synth tones, the drawn out guitars, and the redolent bass which underpins the whole thing are all a joy to listen to. I think the secret is in how well produced everything is; while the guitars and the bass have this fuzzy, hard-to-contain murkiness to them, the synths and the vocals shine crystal clear through their sound alongside the drums that punctuate it all with their deliberate softness. The end result of all of this is an album that’s a pleasure to get lost in, a trip into well planned, well executed, psychedelic stoner music. Also, try not to dance on that late riff on “River”; I double dare you.
Khemmis – Deceiver
At this point, I have half a mind to think, “Ho-hum, another year, another amazing Khemmis record, can we move on?” But of course, we can’t. Khemmis has made nothing but straight bangers for nearly a decade now, and every one of them is worth talking about. However, I’m of the opinion that Deceiver is their best record yet. I’ve listened to it nearly a dozen times at this point, and Deceiver feels like their most expansive record yet. Each track is a history book for the slow and low by blending mournful melodies and gloomy lyrics with big riffs and booming rhythms to be the face of modern doom metal. To me, Deceiver is a new achievement for the genre and something to model the sound after.
I certainly love all aspects of this band, from the slow and gloomy style of Hunted to the more upbeat and energetic pace of Desolation, but Deceiver seems to have captured all aspects of their sound in a new package. As a now-trio, it feels like they aren’t missing a thing and have even grown as a group. I have a hard time putting into words the subtleties I can sense on Deciever, but whatever it is has helped make a record I can listen to on repeat and feel like I hear something new. The first time I listened to this, I heard the new riffing style and the depth of the sound. The second time, I was comparing the doom on this record to that of their previous outings. The third listen made me revel in the stories told by the lyrics, and the fourth go-around I could hear the whole thing. It really is my favorite of theirs so far, but I wouldn’t mind at all putting that notion to task over and over again. Simply put, Deceiver rocks.
Khirki – Κτηνωδία
We have extolled the virtues of the use of non-European musical ideas and instruments in metal for years now. Simply put, these intersections can make better music, creating new and original sounds inside of the often calcified style of metal. The Greek band Khirki is a fantastic example of this; located as they are in the Mediterranean, Khirki can effortlessly draw influences not only from traditional Greek instrumentation and composition but also from the rich Turkish tradition and from other, more far-flung ideas not only for sounds but also for themes and lyrics.
The blend of these sounds, ideas, and themes creates Κτηνωδία, one of the more riff heavy and danceable stoner/doom releases of the year. No, seriously, put on “Medea”, arguably the best track on the album, and let those drums wash all over you. By the time the bass chimes in, and the guitars are introduced, in preparation for the track’s first riff, you should already be swaying. And when that first, glorious riff washes all over you, its rhythmic core is so bouncy and energetic, filled with decidedly Mediterranean notions of beat and time signature, that it becomes irresistible. Throw in big, big vocals, beautiful string instruments, and a surprising amount of heaviness and you get the rich, intoxicating formula that is Khirki’s local take on stoner metal.
Mountain Caller – Chronicle: Prologue
Just because it’s a 3-track EP doesn’t mean I can’t include Mountain Caller’s Chronicle: Prologue. Out of all the bands on this list, I think Mountain Caller is probably the most successful band on this list. They write high quality music that includes big riffs so they can tell a space opera epic. And I’ll be damned if Chronicle: Prologue doesn’t give the perfect backdrop to further appreciate last year’s Chronicle I: The Truthseeker. The band is young, but their sound is incredibly mature. Everything they do goes to serve the story they’re telling, so it’s very important to them that everything they do is deliberate. You hear that dedication on all 3 tracks here, and it’s genuinely impressive. Prologue was a record I had on repeat for long stretches of the year as the tracks perfectly compliment each other and flow easily from one to the next and back. It’s the perfect companion to Chronicle I, a best of last year in its own right as well. Mountain Caller has started impressively, and I want to be discussing the band for a long time to come.
Oryx – Lamenting A Dead World
Goddamnit, Denver, leave some for the rest of us. Oryx is yet another distinguished representative of the heavy capital of the world (name one place that’s spawned so many excellent bands of so many different disciplines), and Lamenting A Dead World is the kind of record that’ll leave a mark for some time. Less so because this blackened sludge/doom trio are experts in the realms that make up their composite sound, but more because of their creativity in crafting an experience that feels distinctly blackened, sludgy, and doomy without ever really resorting to going full-tilt one way or the other. They aren’t so much knocking out tropes as they are blurring the lines between them.
They are, however, knocking out some eardrums. Extremely worthy of high volume, Oryx go out of their way to make everything extra, extra heavy. I especially appreciate how they work their atmospheric angle. Rather than as a contrast to riffy shit, everything is steeped in this shroud of misanthropy and woe – it’s integral to their overall heaviness. Sure, there are some blackened passages and bonafide sludge riffs to be uncovered, but the “what” of Lamenting A Dead World is never outshined by the “how.” As tracks like “Last Breath” and “Oblivion” ring out, it becomes apparent just how dense, layered, and thick this three piece can get and how this confluence of extreme metal and extreme aura resides at the crux of their sound and puts them ahead of their peers.
Part Chimp – Drool
If those three words above don’t tell you everything you already need to know about this record…¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Seriously though, this is some wonderfully knuckle-dragging, stoned-to-the-nth-degree noise rock. Essentially, Part Chimp is like if Torche was bitten by a radioactive Sonic Youth. Drool slugs it out with absurdly heavy riffage on the reg, but songs are often built on this slacker-y 90s vibe that makes for many interesting shifts. This works as a great foundation for the loud moments, but also provides an interesting reset point that makes Drool a persistently dynamic listen (check “Dirty Birdy” and “USisA” for some interesting “dialed back” moments).
There’s a looseness, whimsy, and freedom that emanates from Drool; wanton noise strays off the beaten path, leads come and go like there’s an open door policy, and hard-hitting rhythms are welcome to be warped. Now, Part Chimp aren’t about to wet blanket this party with convoluted twists and turns, this record also incredibly approachable. Tracks develop in engaging and curiously uplifting ways with attention to first and foremost satisfy the big ass riff needs, but gradual enough not to churn out like riff
salad gas station sushi. This gets to exactly what floors me about Drool – how they play both sides of this coin so well. Their temperament goes a step beyond the standard tongue-in-cheek, apathetic noise rock approach for something slightly less cynical and a bit more playful for a turn on, turn up record that’s loads of distressing fun.
Stone From the Sky – Songs From the Deepwater
Remember when I told you, all the way back when were talking about ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL, to remember that they are from France? That’s right, it is now time, once again, for me to tell you about the French doom/stoner scene! In fact, I don’t really have to tell you about the scene itself just draw your attention to the fact that two albums from that scene have made to this list, there’s another on our Best of 2021 list (Lizzard), and all over our individual lists from this year. That scene is just that good and Stone From the Sky latest release is specifically special to me because they’re the ones who introduced me to it.
Back when I first heard Fuck the Sun, the band’s 2017 release, I was immediately enamored by how the band could channel a sense of epic scale into their music without sounding boring or repetitive. But in all earnestness, Songs From the Deepwater is leagues above even that fantastic album. It presents Stone From the Sky in their strongest, and darkest, form yet, channeling the massive vibes of the deep ocean and what lurks beneath the surface. It is, simply put, a masterclass in tripped out, expansive, and evocative progressive stoner music and one my favorite albums of the year, from France or outside of it.
Unto Others – Strength
For anyone paying attention, 2018’s Don’t Waste Your Time (then released under the moniker Idle Hands) was a real wake up call. It signaled the preceding concoctions of heavy metal, goth rock, and post-punk were in need of a refresh, almost like they were making the case that there were cracks to fill and dots to connect between the worlds of Christian Death, Danzig, and NWOBHM. 2019’s Mana actualized this vision, so it seemed it was all but destiny that Strength would flounder or misstep, but instead Unto Others kept a firm grip on the elements that got them here and stayed true to their path to create one of the most satisfying records of the year.
Part of what makes this possible is the great range on display. Strength turns everything from Mana up a notch. It’s more melodic, heavier, and moodier; each track loaded with noteworthy hooks, distinctive harmonies and solos, and a deliciously gloomy atmosphere that dials back a hair on some of the kitsch. It’s downright impressive how tight this record is considering how much ground it covers. The songwriting and production wring the most from every moment, offering a perfect balance that bounces listeners between fist-pumping heavy metal and sable post-punk with illusory ease, spanning everything from arena-ready anthems (“Heroin,” “Downtown,” “When Will Gods Work Be Done”) to more introspective offerings (“Little Bird,” “Summer Lightning,” “Strength”).
Plus, it sounds fucking impeccible, guitars are spot on with attacking chugs and period-perfect 80s punk rhythms, leads are razor sharp, the bass is well-defined, and the drums are tight and dynamic. It’s fucking dark, flickering between shades of angst, frustration, and sorrow, but the melody is always at the forefront, making it indulgent as it is cathartic, capturing the strengths of every facet of their sound both in spirit and sonically. It’s kind of ridiculous that they’re able to follow up a definitive record like Mana with this level of confidence and execution, but Unto Others have proven they’re anything but typical.
Vouna – Atropos
Out of all the different sounds and styles we discuss on Doomsday, the one that always hits hardest to me is blackened doom. Both black metal and doom lend themselves to a certain atmosphere that’s similar but not the same, so combining the two can create an overwhelming force. Vouna embodies that extreme heaviness more than any other outfit, and Atropos is designed to emote more than many other records on this list. I find this to be the greatest achievement since blackened doom sounds lend themselves greatly to and overwhelming force by a wall of sound. Vouna knows there isn’t just one way to skin a cat and uses restraint and gravitas as another instrument in her arsenal.
The remarkable thing about Atropos is just how layered the record is. Every track is about the combination of all the sounds working together, and in that construction lies a true musical composition. Atropos feels very orchestral in that way, layering instrument upon instrument and giving them all their own unique part to play. Synths, guitars, bass, vocals, and drums all work together to deliver a full experience tackling huges issues of life, death, and the natural world. It is a seismic blow to the senses and intellect, and listening to Atropos is a truly awe-inspiring experience. It’s no surprise, given those details, that Wolves in the Throne Room have been closely involved in Vouna’s career thus far, and this record is on par with WITTR’s releases. Atropos is the most complete record I’ve heard this year, and you would do very well to give it a spin.
Worm – Foreverglade
The fact that the opener “intro” track clocks in at five-and-a-half-minutes speaks volumes about the muggy deathdoom that follows. It’s a touch hyperbolic to say that Worm have crafted one of the very finest efforts the genre has ever witnessed, but the more I listen to Foreverglade, the more comfortable I get with the acclaim. The back-and-forths between soupy, cavernous funeral doom and dank, chuggy mid-tempo death metal create a churn that has the filthiest of creams rising to the top. The gloomy atmosphere led by the spooky synths and reverb-heavy guitars and vocals make this record feel huge, but it’s not until the solo flurries cut through can you really begin to perceive the scope and scale of the album. If you like it big ‘n’ nasty, you simply aren’t going to find anything from 2021 that executes this well.
Where Foreverglade really succeeds with me is by how deliberate everything is. Ridiculous divebombs? Worm goes all in, you’ll be hearing ‘em echo in your nightmares. And all those grody, stank face-assured grooves will get you sniffing your pits in search of a more logical explanation. These dudes create purpose and payoffs for everything they do. It’s what stocks Foreverglade with unforgettable moments: the drippy intro of “Empire of the Necromancers” and its subsequent trail of rabid solos, the savory resolution of “Murk Above The Dark Moor,” the stunning, vibrant, and almost too-brief “Subaqueous Funeral,” the slow creeping escalation of the atmospheric “Centuries of Ooze” – the arrangements and performances are truly remarkable, but more importantly, memorable. If for some reason you haven’t already immersed yourself in Florida’s finest offering to the slow and low, quit fucking around.
Quick note: I know we said we weren’t going to rank things, but I kinda lied. Everybody likes making their own lists, and we’re no different. Take a look!
Eden’s Unranked Top Ten Stoner/Doom Albums of the Year
- Lizzard – Eroded
- ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL – ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL
- Swamp Hawk – Monster In color
- Holy Monitor – Southern Lights
- Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush
- Khirki – Κτηνωδία
- Papangu – Holoceno
- Weedpecker – IV: The Stream of Forgotten Thoughts
- Fierce Deity – Power, Wisdom Courage
- Stone From the Sky – Songs From the Deepwater
Jordan’s Doomsday Top 10, let’s call ‘em ranked why not:
- Terminus – The Final Bell Toll
- ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL – s/t
- Unto Others – Strength
- Body Void – Bury Me Beneath this Rotting Earth
- Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows – The Magnetic Ridge
- Part Chimp – Drool
- Worm – Foreverglade
- Oryx – Lamenting a Dead World
- Blackwater Holylight – Silence/Motion
- Ghorot – Loss of Light
Pete’s Semi-Ranked List of Doom and Sludge for 2021
- Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage
- Dream Unending – Tide Turns Eternal
- FIve the Hierophant – Through Aureate Void
- Khemmis – Deceiver
- Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal
- Oryx – Lamenting a Dying World
- Vouna – Atropos
- Doctor Smoke – Dreamers and the Dead
- Terminus – The Silent Bell Toll
- Green Lung – Black Harvest
- Mountain Caller – Chronicle: Prologue
- Vokonis – Odyssey
- Worm – Foreverglade
- Howling Giant – Alteration
- Khirki – Κτηνωδία
- The Flight of Sleipnir – Eventide
- Suncraft – Flat Earth Rider
- Ophis – Spew Forth Odium
- Battle Hag – Celestial Tyrant
- Eremit – Bearer of Many Names
- Hermit’s Weedsom – As Above, So Below
- STÖNER – Stoners Rule
- Tribulation – When the Gloom Becomes Sound
- DRUNE – DRUNE
- Converge & Chelsea Wolfe – Bloodmoon: I