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Doomsday // November 2023

See you soon for all those wonderful, endless catalogs of 2023's musical output. For now, enjoy these fantastic, humming, deep, groovy albums.

3 months ago

List making season is upon us, but, as always, the Winter months hold a few underrated gems. Some of them will make their splash in the scene as they release but most of them will either go on to resonate early in the next year, when we all look back at the wreckage of passing time, or never at all. That's why these last few posts in each column's yearly cycle are especially important, either as sources for soon-to-come explorers of the end of year output or as beacons, shining a light on lesser known releases. This month's Doomsday has a bit of all three options, all excellent releases which deserve your time and ears.

See you soon for all those wonderful, endless catalogs of 2023's musical output. For now, enjoy these fantastic, humming, deep, groovy albums.

Dream Unending & Worm - Starpath

When an album can fit into as many columns as Heavy Blog has, you know it’s the good stuff. On Starpath, Dream Unending and Worm run the gamut between epic death metal and corrosive black metal. So what is it doing on Doomsday? Well, I’d argue that the thread which connects both of these sounds is a sort of astral, theatrical, and extremely effective doom metal which harkens to the birth of the genre. It’s the glue which ties both ends of this split or collaborative album together, lending them the themes and palette from which the actual work is created.

It’s much easier to argue this about Dream Unending’s part of the release; both “So Many Chances” and “If Not Now When” are slow, pondersome, and replete with mighty riffs, especially the latter. It builds up to its center point and then reveals an unfurling and intensely groovy riff that will set the heart of any doom fan ablaze. But what about the second half, Worm’s part of the proceedings? On its face, this segment is “just” black metal: the vocals are abrasive, the drums go fast, and the riffs are lo-fi and “cold”. But listen on, into “Ravenblood” maturation, and you will hear the Candlemass and other early doom influences quite clearly.

In rich synths, undulating riffs, pensive transitions, and crackling solos, Worm infuse their black metal with the same grandiose doom that lived on the surface of Dream Unending’s contributions to the release. That sort of grandiose gesture is the second thread which stitches this release into a whole, ensuring that the engine which runs one of this year’s best album is doom metal at its core.

 

-EK

Hippie Death Cult - Helichrysum

There’s one risk to writing about music: when you tell people you write about music, they tend to ask for recommendations. This particularly applies when you don’t resemble the “typical” metalhead. Don’t get me wrong - I love being asked for recs - but coming up with a good suggestion on the spot demands balancing already known and loved sounds that grab listeners from the onset with new twists that hold their attention. 

Dearest doomy diehards and riff chasers, I give you the perfect recommendation: Hippie Death Cult. The Portland, Oregon-based trio takes the classic sounds of 70s hard rock, supercharges it with the heaviness of doom metal, and puts an innovative psychedelic spin on it. The result is a deeply satisfying blend that successfully plays on rock history, yet sounds distinctly modern and unique. 

But what makes Hippie Death Cult’s latest album, Helichrysum, even more exciting is how much the band evolves with each release. Their earliest effort, 111, channeled fuzzy riffs into dirgy, cavernous odes to the nihilistic state of society. As the band shifted from a four piece to a trio, their sound continued to tighten into a deadly combination of rock’n’roll married to devastating doom. With Helichrysum, bassist Laura Philips makes her debut on vocals, adding emotional depth to Hippie Death Cult’s growing swagger. “Toxic Annihilator” adds yet another layer to Hippie Death Cult’s signature fuzz, bursting into punkified stoner aggression that pulls no punches. Mournful doom builds melds with muscular rock for heavy-hitting songs that are guaranteed to get stuck in your head. 

 

-Bridget Hughes

Deathchant - Thrones

If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard some truly kickass bands bustin’ out harmonies like nobody’s business, I might have a few bucks. There’s bands that can certainly “do” the Thin Lizzy thing, but I find relatively few of them are bringing enough of something new to the table to stand out or make a lasting impression. LA’s Deathchant has no such issue. Their guitarmonious attack on their latest, Thrones, is remarkably diverse, resulting in their strongest release yet, and also one of the year’s heavy/stoner metal highlights.

Thrones is all over the place in terms of energy and mood, but it’s sequenced in a way where listeners are never stuck in a rut of anything for too long. Most tracks hover around a quick three-to-four minutes, and the longer outings have a penchant for some dramatic lows and epic highs. The slow open of “Canyon” belies the piss n’ vinegar that gets rolling at the 52 second mark. The title track followup hints at their agility, bounding from Iron Maiden-inspired gallops to sludgy doom without a flinch. They really work that punk-y backbone, and it allows their heavy metal-forward moments to really shine with some Motörhead-y giddyup and bluesy boogies. On the flip side, “Earth” could pass for a Kyuss or QOTSA b-side, while the spacy “Mother Mary” offers up a worth “Planet Caravan” kinda trip.

And that’s not all: Thrones is not at all as backward-looking as the above comparisons might make it out to be. “Chariot” captures a bit of that classic Baroness pepped-up sludge sound, “Mirror” brings to mind the incredibly underrated Saviours’ psyched out vision for heavy/stoner metal, and “Tomb” connects solidly with the kind of über-heavy doom typically reserved for the amp worship types, that is, when they finally let up on the throttle of this fuckin’ chugfest. Did I mention these dudes got The Riffs™, too? It’s kind of absurd just how well-rounded Deathchant is, all things considered. Ultimately, if you have to get that Thin Lizzy fix (who doesn’t?), you’ll be hard-pressed to find much that can do it this well without coughing up another too-familiar rehash. Just smash play, you’ll find out soon enough.

-Jordan Jerabek

Eden Kupermintz

Published 3 months ago