Wednesday, December 4, 2019
The Top 10 Doom Albums of 2019
It's that time of year again, to sort through the top 10 albums of all the respective genres and compile all the number ones into the top 10 albums of the year. Later in the month I will make the top 10 lists for the decade. To be blunt 2019 is the decade's weakest year for music. Especially when it comes to new artists, however doom is one of the few genres that proved an exception to this as only 4 of the 10 bands are veterans. as 7 of the 10 bands are veterans to our lists here. You had to search much harder to find ten albums that rose above, yet that is what I did.As in past years I am giving a brief explanation as to why these albums stand over the peers in lower positions on the list. The very fact these bands made it on the list speaks to how great these albums are so it's not a slight that the number 8 album is above the 9th album, there is something that just gives it an edge that makes me want to listen to it more. After all we can try to look cool and pick the hippest bands for a list, but at the end of the day what makes an album the best is making you want more, you look forward to listening to it again. Sure you can bitch and complain about your favorite band not being on the list, I listen to five new albums a day so yes I heard your favorite album and was not impressed. No, I do not care what you think about it . I do hope you can find your next favorite on this list and included links to reviews of these albums if you want to check out audio on these guys. Anyways here are the top 10 Doom albums of 2019 .
With the deluge of death doom this year it is good to just hear straight forward doom. Though not as straight forward as most doom bands due to the fact Most of this band also plays in the Pagan Black Metal band Ereb Altor. This cross over can still be felt in the influences brought to the table as they are not just doom musicians . Being from Sweden there are many other elements from the influence of their country men despite being a doom band. You get the guitar harmony parts from melo-death, the aggression of Dissection and in many places it feels like Katatonia jamming with Candlemass,
9-the River-"Vessels Into White Tides"
I would much rather question what the fuck I am listening to than endure a band trying to be Electric Wizard. I really appreciate this band's sound. Sure much like King Woman the flirt with the line of what doom can be. There is a melancholy to what they do that solidifies them as doom in my mind. The vocals are a timidly sung by a woman whose voice falls some where between a higher alto and lower soprano. Her approach is very smooth. I can hear shoe gaze influence in what they do as well as slow core bands like Low.It is not playing it safe and hiding behind distortion while abandoning the conventions of Metal that placed this album ahead of Isole.
8-Obed Marsh- "Dunwhich"
If you want to hear death doom done really fucking right so that it's more doom and not just slow death metal, then check out this mean mother fucker. Their previous album "Innsmouth" had some gnarly spewed vocals , that this one has out does in the first two songs alone. Some of this might be thanks to the attention to detail in the production this time around. The guitars have a more angular dissonance to them which also helps paint this unnerving picture. The dark ugliness of this album beasts out the more subdued album by the River.
7-Sigils "You Built the Altar You Lit the Leaves"
This band from New York has the detached surrealistic pulse that is shared by bands like Jesu.The guitars carry a lumbering to them , but are also the prime architects of the album's atmosphere. These guys would almost have more in common with sludge if it was not for the vocals carrying such a sense of loss to them.What puts them above Obded Marsh is the mood they create with atmosphere to have more sonic colors.
6-Year of the Cobra - "Ash and Dust"
There are few things that are surprising about this duo. The first being that they are a duo. This is fuzzed out bass not guitar.; The second is pop sensibilities of her vocals . Drone and groove are their stock and trade, with the loud soft dynamic a set part of the formula. The beat out Sigils for this spot due to the hooky vocals.
Their is some buzz about their fuzz.The album does sound great as It's warm and organic. I am less concerned with what pedals they play with and more interested in the songs, which are pretty fucking kicking as well. The are not the slowest or darkest doom. There is more Cream and MC5 influence than Sabbath. I like the singers croons , which also helped sell me on this band. The reason they came out on top over Year of the Cobra and it was a tough call, but since they are not a bass and drums duo they have more sonic depth.
4- Swallow the Sun- "When a Shadow is Forced into the Light"
These guys sound more Swedish than Finnish, though some of the goth touches are more implied than really committed to. If you are a fan of the band who doesn't mind the more melodic direction the band is heading in then you will find this album will sit well with you. If you haven't really given them much of a chance then this is a good place to start. More breathing room than the more oppressive strains of doom on this list. They are highly fine tuned and show no signs of wanting to be Black Sabbath. What they are doing here is so much bigger than what Kook is going for it is almost not fair to compare them, but what gives these guys the edge of land this spot.
3-Esoteric- "A Pyrrhic Existence"
I love Esoteric. "Paragon of Dissonance" is one of my favorite albums. But I will only listen to a 30 minute song once no matter how good it is. The first song is almost longer than Slayer's entire "Reign in Blood" album. Granted speed metal vs doom are two very different things. Aside from that it's ambitious and still executed perfectly in terms of the sounds and moods they attain. Once you are in it this album is clearly some next level shit that goes beyond just being funeral doom. You can not really fairly compare this against most of the albums on this list. Swallow the Sun however is almost as ambitious as Esoteric, these guys are just much heavier and muscle their way to the number 3 spot.
This album was not what I expected going into it. After a few listens it proves early on this is an album I can just let play as it flows with smooth dynamics that do not tire. The drumming is almost as impressive as the soaring vocals. More hypnotic than crushing, the gray melancholy is often more than enough to solidify their place as doom, though their sound tends to be fragile in it's moodiness. It is this level of songwriting that makes me listen to this more than the bigger symphony of despair Esoteric created.
1-Cold in Berlin -"Rituals of Surrender"
I had to go back and listen to their 2012 album "And Yet" to see if I was totally off base as remembering them as more of a post punk bank .Now they are a doom band band like a darker version of Devils Blood with more post punk influence. Their singer's pleading wail works against the crushing fuzzed out groove you can not help but head bang to. This one was really close . Brume was originally in the number one spot until , further listens made it clear this album would shoulder aside the more fragile emotions of the "Rabbits album. Here emotion crushes you even at it's most introspective.