Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Top 10 Doom Albums of 2018


It is that time again. Death doom might have been big this year, but there is not a ton of it on this list, as doom needs to be more than just slow death metal. It needs to have a mournful sense to emoting to it and of course dark. This is what keeps it from being just Sabbath worship. The score from my reviews to help determine the ranking , but also how many times Last FM told me I listened to each album.

An album can have all the critical acclaim in the world but if it does not inspire multiple listens then how good can it actually be ?

This year  its an almost even split between new blood being spilled and  more well established acts .  Rather than posting media of a track from each band I am leaving a link to the review, which will contain Bandcamp or Full Album Streams. Ok enough talking about it, the time has come to dig into the top 10 Doom albums of 2018.

10-Altars of Grief-"Iris"

 An interesting album from a band out of Canada that blends several dark shades of metal. It begs the question is the blackened doom in this equation more doom or black metal? The melancholy prevails and there are moments where they play in such a mournful and melodic manner it leans in a more of a Type O Negative or My Dying Bride direction. Often making you ask yourself if they are giving you a mournful ballad or they are going to hit you with every ounce of their fury.

9-Urfaust- The Constellatory Practice"

 Yes, these guys were once a black metal band of sorts. The vocals are still sung rather operatically but without the same baritone stiffness of previous albums. The bulk of the album feels like a weird ritualistic hypnosis. It creates a sonic shimmer that reminds me a little of Swans. More punishing in it's pounding than the opener, I would not call this black metal, but Urfaust has been defying the bounds of black metal since their last album.

 8-Void of Silence- "the Sky Over"

I love doom, but have grown weary of 15 minute songs. These guys pushed the envelope with theirs and when they get to meat of the matter it's great, with mournful crooned vocals. Luca Soi is on the mic this time around. He gives it almost a Primordial feel, which will please fans who like the album  Alan Averill sang on. The synths are thick and almost threaten to over power the guitars.

7-Mournful Congregation-"the Incubus of Karma"

 Things have changed on Australian band's newest release. They are ia shade of a different sonic splendor than what moved their 2011 release"the Book of Kings".  Their 2011 album is what this one is really having to measure up to for me as it caught me up with a more emotional majesty in my initial listen to it. I have liked the glimpses they have offered leading up to this album. "Whispering Spiritscapes" has some shadows to the other wise very clean and streamlined production. The vocals are a little higher in the mix. The guitars are well layered, but it is not like they are still hitting you with the same wall of sound.

6-Hamferd -"Támsins Likam"

This doom band from the Faroe Islands trade off well sung mournful clean vocals growled vocals . They are very successful at creating a mood. While death doom became more of a thing this year, these guys did it better than most.

5-Deadbird -"the Forest Within the Tree"

 The vocals have a grungey Alice In Chains feel. The guitars are very much legit doom when they kick in. Very layered with clean strums thrown into the chords. While the first shade of vocals we get on this album are cleanly sung they do have grit to them rather than trying to make the melodies soar over the music.The darker moments are really great, some of the more straight up sludge parts, just sound like you would expect that sort of thing to sound, though less Neurosis. The harsher vocals add to things and give a wider depth that Pallbearer doesn't venture into in terms of the range of heaviness.

4-Beastmaker- "Windows of Evil" 

This album is darker and creepier than previous releases. The vocals are a little more Ozzy like than I remember from the first album. "Inside the Skull" didn't catch me as much as the first album. I like what is going on here. It's dark and heavy with thought and hooks put into the song writing.

3-Messa - "Feast For Water" 

 My first thought when I heard them was this is like a metal version of Lana Del Ray. The tempo picks up and they fall closer in line to other "occult" rock of their ilk like Christian Mistress. There is more raw rumble going when they gain speed than what their peers typically muster. It's the dreary mood that kept them from just being lumped into stoner rock.

2 Evoken-"Hypnagogia"

 After six years of waiting the Jersey doom band proves why they are America's best when it comes to not only funeral doom, but doom as a whole. This finds them picking up where they left off with "Atra Mors". Sonically it feels similar from a production stand point. Mood wise the atmosphere might be thicker. It's pretty dark, though perhaps not as filled with despair as the previous album. Lyrically it uses World War 1 as a metaphor to things they were going through at the time. This is done without the need to maintain some contrived narrative that concept albums tend to have. These guys are masterful songwriters who don't feel the need to drone on to make their point. The beginning is dreamy with low goth like vocals to bring a darker shade against the music. It builds as needed to give them a big metal ending draped in mournful strings that gets better with each listen.

1-Hangman's Chair -"Banlieue Triste"

 This French band has been around for 13 years, so I am not sure how they have eluded me. In terms of conventional metal, they might not fit neatly into the box. They are heavy in the bleak mood they create. This depressing mood brings them closest to doom if they have to defined. The vocals are the key selling point for me as not a note is wasted and they really sell me on the lyrics. They are in a similar zip code as "Viva Emptiness" era Katatonia, but carrying even more despair. The reason they beat Evoken is while "Hypnagogia" is a beautiful album, it's so dense and grandiose, the songs don't hook me in to demand as many listens as this album did which what I need when I forget to take my meds in the morning.

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