It’s difficult to innovate and sound unique in the world of traditional heavy metal. This is especially true in the very small, niche genre of epic doom metal, which was both established and perfected in one fell swoop with Candlemass’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. While Heaven Wept are a band that managed to do exactly this.
Having formed upon the date of the Summer Solstice in 1990, there is effectively one real constant with this band regardless of all the turnover that happens within their ranks. That is, Rich Walker, the guitarist and main songwriter of the band, unflinchingly delivers great metal pretty much every time the band puts music out, no matter how sporadic. It doesn’t matter if you pick any of the other full lengths or even the EPs – both Halcyon and Death’s Crown is Victory would be the highlight of a lot of other band’s careers. Still though, New Dark Age has always been the top of the heap, and for my part one of my favorite doom metal albums in general.
Having been formed in 1997 as initially a studio project, Doomsword as a band was aimed at the idea of playing traditional metal in the style of the old American greats. Warlord is their biggest influence, first and foremost – the pseudonym of Deathmaster, the main songwriter of the band, is from the cover painting of the Deliver Us EP, as was the drummers on this album – as well as a strong hint of Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol and viking-era Bathory mixed in. Lots of bands nowadays are influenced by those first three bands, but in the late 90s, bands playing that style did not really have a ton of traction in either the US or Europe.
Downfall is kind of an odd album in the Solitude Aeturnus discography. It has the band’s signature touch, certainly – the evocative, stone-heavy riffage and harmonies; Robert Lowe’s consistently impeccable vocal delivery, and that sweet, sweet over the top melancholia underpinning everything. All that said, Downfall has a pretty distinctly different vibe in that it’s the least “epic” thing the band ever did, least to my ears anyway.
Track premiere from Old Mother Hell’s upcoming album Lord of Demise! This German trio play a fantastic blend of heavy and doom metal.
Candlemass’s later two 80’s records are an example of how expectation can distort and alter the perception of certain works. They are both fine albums, but because this was also the band who happened to write two of the best albums of all time right before (forget genre for a second), they both tend to be dismissed because they happened to be ever-so-slightly flawed by comparison. Which is a perverse reinforce of the band’s greatness at their peak, in a sense – a friend of mine recently put it that even the two “weaker” Candlemass albums would still make them one of the best doom metal bands of all time.
Not much is known about Hungary’s Devil Seed, even as of writing this article their self-titled debut album has not received much attention with no related or past projects to speak of. All we have to go off of is the band name presumably being a reference to the song off of Candlemass’s King of the Grey Islands. Lucky for us, as far as hints go, that’s a pretty good one. Marrying the synth-rich riffy atmosphere of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus with powerful, front-and-center vocals reminiscent of Solitude Aeturnus, Devil Seed’s self-titled debut album presents an unexpected and incredibly welcome slab of epic doom firmly rooted in the classics of the genre.
Just two years ago Stygian Crown released their impressive demo and now they’ve released their debut album and they’re already being enlisted for international festivals! This relative success isn’t for nothing. Although it’s still early to tell, it’s pretty clear that Stygian Crown’s self-titled debut is something special and likely to be one of the best traditional heavy metal records of 2020 with its specific brand of crushing epic doom reminiscent of Solitude Aeturnus and Capilla Ardiente. We caught up with Rhett A. Davis for an interview that you can read below!
After an impressive demo, Los Angeles’s epic doom juggernaut Stygian Crown is bringing the thunder on a new full-length album. And some high-class retro thunder is what they do indeed bring on their debut for a well-chosen label Cruz Del Sur. This seems to be the year and the season for top shelf female fronted doom.
The winds of a city howl and have called forth the entrance of a new entity: Fer de Lance. Formed by current members of Smoulder and Moros Nyx, a different brand of epic doom has appeared on the horizon.