That renowned webzine of all things riff shaped, Metal Injection, recently ran an article pontificating on the rising popularity of the doom scene. The articles author, Matt Bacon, asked a number of the scenes leading lights the reasons why, for what is essentially a sub-genre of a music that been around for a few decades, such an uptake in listeners as well as players has occurred in the last few years. Reasons were offered that ranged from people needing a soundtrack to a coming apocalypse through to a general boredom with fast metallic bluster and over technical guitar wizardry, Desert Psychlist offers another explanation however and its a simple one.... Doom is slow, low ,crushingly heavy and reaches that part of you other metal genres do not come close to touching, your darkened soul.
A bold statement you may say but if your not convinced then try giving New York's Eternal Black's latest offering "Bleed The Days" a listen, doom has never sounded so good!
"The Lost, The Forgotten and The Undying" opens "Bleed The Days" and almost, but not quite, blows Desert Psychlist's theory, outlined in this reviews opening paragraph, straight out of the water by slamming straight into a mid to up-tempo stoner doom groove. Guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob sings of "a killing floor" and "November souls" in grizzled clean vocal tones while locking into a gnarly rolling proto-doom refrain with bassist Hal Miller, their combined riffage, enhanced by Wohlrob's searing solo's, perfectly underpinned by Joe Wood's heavy swinging percussive beats.
"Snake Oil and Coffin Nails" initially follows a similar path to the previous track with Wood laying down a pacey percussive foundation for Miller and Wohlrob to wrap thick sludgey riffage around before suddenly shifting down into a deliciously dark plodding doom groove with Wohlrob waxing lyrical of "teeth grinding on coffin nails" in raw,throaty tones. The songs swings between these two differing dynamics before closing on a wave of pulverising doom'n'roll taken to another level by Wohlrob's scorchingly dark guitar solo.
"Sea of Graves" nails Eternal Black's doom flag to the mast and finds the trio delving deeper into the mire with a menacing, and quite spine-tingling doom groove that owes, in its initial stages, more than a nod of its horned head to Ozzy, Tony, Bill and Geezer's iconic song " Black Sabbath", The song then takes off on a journey through dark psychedelic hues taking off on a myriad of different musical tangents and dynamics with Wohlrob, Miller and Wood effortlessly shifting through time signatures and tempos before the song signs off on a wave of dark sustain.
"Into Nothing", a haunting and strangely relaxing instrumental made up of banshee-like guitar effects over glistening arpeggios and intricate percussion shows Eternal Black's progressive leanings and serves as a brief respite from the more visceral aspects of their music. It is both charming and unsettling in equal measure.
"Stained Eyes On A Setting Sun" is up next and for this listener encapsulates in 7:20 seconds everything that a doom song should aspire to be, heavy but not brutal, monolithic but not monochrome, bleak but never bland. Miller holds down the bottom end with superb dexterity his deeply distorted bass tone the anchor around which Wohlrob weaves his dark fuzzed guitar colouring and under which Wood lays a barrage of pounding skins and shimmering cymbals. Bleak lyrics telling of "Men drowned in drink" while "Women claw at the soil" are roared sermon like, preached rather than sang giving the song an almost prophetic feel.
Title track "Bleed The Days" begins with Wohlrob and Miller laying down an undulating fuzz soaked refrain with Wood filling in the spaces with solid and industrious percussion before the trio take things to the next level by combining in a thick reverberating mire of proto-doom- ish groove. Wohlrob sings "Bury me in cold black mud, Where all my brothers lay" his gravel thick tones a perfect match for swamp thick riffs and rhythms beneath them.
"All Gods Fall" closes the album with an epic tome stretched over almost eleven minutes. Dense, thick refrains of reverberating guitar and bass soar and momentarily hang over powerful pounding percussion around which morose and reflective lyrics tell of the futility of religion and worship ,the song briefly shifting into Sabbath-esque territory before plummeting back into the depths of despair and finally coming to a climax.
Doom is a genre on the rise slowly but surely making its ominous presence felt, maybe not so much in the mainstream but most certainly amongst those who prefer their grooves of a more metallic flavour, and if bands like Eternal Black keep making albums as good as "Bleed The Days" then who knows where this genre could lead us in years to come
Check it out .....
© 2017 Frazer Jones