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Doomsday // August 2023

Doomsday! Honestly, I've been listening to so much stoner and doom lately, even more than I usually do (and that's already a lot)

10 months ago

Doomsday! Honestly, I've been listening to so much stoner and doom lately, even more than I usually do (and that's already a lot). Maybe it's the fact that I've moved somewhere that more fits the slow and low vibe of the genres; it's not exactly conducive to doom metal to be living in a desert (even though, interestingly enough, a lot of the genre uses desert imagery, although maybe that's more of a psych rock thing). Where I'm at now is still in August but it's much cooler than I'm used to and it's making me reach for the expansive, heavy, and somber albums in my rotation list.

Or maybe it's just because doom has been having a phenomenal year. Some of my favorite albums from 2023 have been doom metal and there's still more to come from the extended family of doom-adjacent genres in the year. Whatever it is, August (which, remember, covers releases from both June and July of this year) features yet more fantastic releases in this space. Let's dive in!

-Eden Kupermintz

Dead Quiet - IV

What exactly did I want the next Dead Quiet album to sound like? The progression from their self-titled debut in 2015 and all the way to the masterful Truth and Ruin in 2020 is one of my favorite career moves of the last decades. From good Mastodon inflected stoner and doom metal to a no-holds-barred, beer bottle at the ready triumph of stoner rock, Dead Quiet spent those five years developing an identity of their own, sampling from the steadfast tent-poles of our community. So, three years later, did I want Dead Quiet to keep growing or did I want them to stick to their guns and keep doing what they do best? To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer really is/was; I think I would have been happy either way.

It just so happened to be that Dead Quiet had an answer to this question and that answer was/is: “we think Truth and Ruin rocked and therefore we are going to keep rocking”. And that’s exactly what IV is all about, namely taking the rocking, forward, buoyant sound that Dead Quiet arrived at with their previous release and doubling down on it. IV is built the same way the previous album was, around big riffs, powerful vocals, boisterous solos, and so many synths you’ll drown in them, everything tied down in a ribbon of unrelenting groove.

Will you find a whole new band on this release? Not really; this is Dead Quiet as they’ve been for a while now but tell me, what exactly is wrong with that? When a band is this good at doing exactly what you want them to do which, in this case, is to deliver some of the best, most danceable, most moving stoner rock you’ll find out there, why would you want anything else? Bottom line, if you’re looking rock, IV is for you. It’s chock-full with the kind of fun, bouncy rock that I love Dead Quiet for and that they seem to love making so much.

-EK

Viral Tyrant - Vultures Like You

The debut album from Viral Tyrant stretches elements of thrash, progressive metal, and black metal into mind-melting sludge. Firmly grounded in the trenches of reverb-drenched doom, Vultures Like You burns through moments of 70s revivalism, death-doom darkness, and thrash-adjacent sprints with a confident, hazy swagger that places it among a rising tide of genre-bending doom acts like Morass of Molasses, Tumulation, and Somnuri.

Vultures Like You is a 51-minute exercise in proving that riffs make everything more fun. “Beloved and Beheaded” rolls through three minutes of epic, cascading roars, only to break into the most fuzzed-out thrash you’ve ever heard. The contrast adds a layer of completely unexpected fun and dimension to the heaviness of Viral Tyrant’s sound, and encapsulates why Vultures Like You works incredibly well. Simultaneously fully nostalgic for Black Sabbath and completely immersed in a modern mix of subgenres, Viral Tyrant has already created their own signature heaviness.

-Bridget Hughes

Thunder Horse - After The Fall

“Crowd pleaser” isn’t often a term used to describe metal, but it’s one of the first terms that came to mind as I listened to After The Fall. The third album from San Antonio, TX-based Thunder Horse has a wide-ranging sound that pulls from stoner rock, classic rock, NWOBHM, and doom, celebrating metal history with a distinctive spin. It’s relentlessly groovy and addictive, one of those albums you find yourself recommending to metalheads and metal skeptics alike.

After The Fall doesn’t fit neatly into doom, nor any minutely specific, algorithmically generated category, Thunder Horse marries the confidence of stoner fuzz with the earnestness of Southern rock, only to weigh it down with a heady dose of doom. The result is undoubtedly heavy, but also anthemic. This is the rare doom album that gets you fired up and ready to take on the next apocalypse.

-Bridget Hughes

High Priest - Invocation

I’m penciling High Priest as another Chicago-based doom band to keep an ear out for in the coming years, because Invocation has been kicking my ass a lot lately. A peek at the cover art reveals that yes, this is in fact some spacey doom, specifically of the more uplifting, epic variety. Though “doom,” there’s also quite a bit of piss ‘n’ vinegar on display that’ll play well to the stoner rock crowd here. Of course there’s some Thin Lizzy bounce and harmonies to be heard throughout Invocation, albeit more so by way of Khemmis, Valkyrie, or Against The Grain, but the point stands that this record is a little more rockin’ and upbeat than you might expect. At first I was unphased, but repeat listens really got me magnetized to their specific and diverse brand of stoner doom.

The title track kicks things off with a rousing, fuzzy welcome that sets the cosmic tone while hinting at some of their moody, grungy vibes before sending off with a close that brings to mind the likes of Howling Giant or Irata. Followup “Divinity” goes all-in with a rockin’ boogie and a delicious hook that gets a classic callback/sendoff after some equally tasty leads and harmonies (fans of Baroness, take note). They even dish some bluesy hard rock akin to Seemless (remember them?) on “Conjure,” rounding out their smorgasbord of celestial stoner doom to be as varied as about anything I’ve heard this year.

And just when you think this band is going all-gas and no grass, tracks like “Ceremony” tip the scales in a significantly hazier and doomier direction, like a Sabbathian “Electric Eye” complete with the robotic vocal effects (seriously, it’s righteous). Ultimately, the sequencing lays out the royal flush of colors and styles High Priest have to offer while keeping a propulsive and cohesive energy throughout - no two songs hit quite the same beat, and they always seem to make good on the promise of a few great riffs, interesting bridges, and a contagious energy.

As if that’s not enough to ensnare the modern doom connoisseur, there’s also a refreshing amount of attention put to the vocals on this record, and it pays off consistently. If clean vocals are your thing, you’ll find a lot to soak up here. The harmonies are rich and layered, the hooks reveal themselves to be real creepers, and the vocal effects are used well, too. “Down in the Dark” has a distinctly 90s flair with its soaring chorus and general moodiness, a weird but welcome addition to the mix.

Similarly, the plodding “Cosmic Key” boasts a Pike-approved stoner riff, but delivers it with an impassioned, dramatic flair appropriate for their cosmic/spiritual vibe, that is until it pivots into another Thin Lizzy-style torrent of leads and harmonies. Something about the way these dudes bring it all together feels so right and so fun. Their doomier stuff is legit in a way many stoner rock bands can’t quite execute (you know those generic types), and there’s so much more than an Iommic stomp riff here and there to change up the pace—for that I’m grateful. Don’t be shy, y’all. More of this, please.

-Jordan Jerabek

Yes I Am A Pirate - Doomer Blues

When I stumbled upon this album while digging through bandcamp releases I almost passed it by. The combination of doom tags and goofy, colorful artwork made me assume it would be another in a long list of stoner doom bands doing nothing to differentiate themselves. Then I scrolled down and saw the album tagged as both “hip hop” and “rap metal” and my interest was piqued. I hadn’t encountered doom with hip hop influences before, Nu-Doom if you will (don’t). I’m always open to new genre combinations, and so I dove on in for a listen, and let me tell you this is a strange one.

Yes I Am A Pirate plays a style of doom that is heavily inspired by traditional and stoner bands, with sizable riffs and somewhat Sabbathian vocals, at times. At other times the riffs feel right out of a Limp Bizkit song, and the vocals are swapping between a deluge of vocoder and effects, or straight up rapped sections. Most surprisingly, at no point did this feel out of place to me. All of the stylistic shifts feel natural and most importantly all the songs are incredible fun. While any type of genre purist will likely have a heart-attack the second the first rapped section starts, for anyone looking to have a bit of fun this album is a fantastic time.

Doomer Blues is more of a proof of concept than a full release, clocking in at just 23 minutes, but they’re 23 minutes of pure fun and I cannot wait to see what this band does in the future, as it’s rare that an album so immediately puts a smile on my face.

-JR


Eden Kupermintz

Published 10 months ago