Doom metal is a slow style of metal music, often focused on heavy, downtuned guitars. The tempos are slow and the music tends to have a bleak atmosphere. The vocals can range from clean, operatic vocals to death metal growls or other extreme sounds. There are several different subgenres. Read more about the death/doom metal subgenre or my doom metal band Soliloquium right here on the site.
Personal taste disclaimer: I’m more into the extreme styles of doom metal like death/doom. My knowledge of the more Black Sabbath-based styles is limited. I won’t step on any toes, but my band tips will be much more on point in my familar subgenres. The map of doom metal subgenres below is a great package to start if you want to know how the different styles sound.
Doom metal subgenres
There are several doom metal subgenres with vast differences in style. The genre gradually branched out and connected with several other metal styles in the process. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the central doom metal subgenres. I’ve taken the most central ones and excluded more narrow subgenres like black/doom, gothic doom and a few more.
Traditional doom metal
Traditional doom metal is rooted in classic heavy metal. The style emerged in the 1980’s, heavily influenced by Black Sabbath’s early output. Some well-known traditional doom metal bands are Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Trouble, Witchfinder General and The Obsessed.
Epic doom metal
Epic doom metal has a soaring, powerful and operatic approach. The blueprint for the style is found in the early Candlemass material. Bands like Solitude Aeturnus and Isole built on that foundation in the 90’s, creating the epic doom metal style.
Stoner doom metal
Stoner doom metal goes all in on the fuzzy, psychadelic side of Black Sabbath’s music. There is usually a lot of guitar effects and sonic experimentation. Some famous bands in the stoner doom metal style are Electric Wizard, Sleep and Cathedral.
Funeral doom metal
Funeral doom metal is one of the slowest and most dirge-like styles of doom metal. The songs are often long, drawn-out and filled with melancholy. There is usually not much going on in terms of rocking riffs or instrumental flair. Some of the most known funeral doom metal bands are Shape of Despair, Esoteric, Skepticism and Mournful Congregation.
The death/doom metal style emerged in the early 90’s. It merged the blooming death metal scene with doom metal aesthetics, creating a new subgenre. Essential death/doom metal bands include Paradise Lost, Anathema, Katatonia, My Dying Bride and Amorphis. There are also modern classics by bands like Slumber, Daylight Dies and Rapture, as well as newcomers like Ocean of Grief and Lying Figures.
Essential doom metal bands
- Black Sabbath
- My Dying Bride
- Paradise Lost
- Solitude Aeturnus
Regional doom metal scenes
There are some countries that are especially good at producing doom metal music. Some regional scenes were central to the genre’s evolution, and others simply produce quality doom metal.
Finland is a dark country that naturally produces a lot of dark music. The Finnish doom metal output ranges from traditional doom like Reverend Bizarre to death/doom and funeral doom. I think the many good death/doom bands capture the Finnish darkness the best.
Check out Hanging Garden, Kaunis Kuolematon, Rapture, Shape of Despair, Skepticism and Swallow the Sun for a solid dose of doom. Don’t miss Barren Earth, Black Sun Aeon and Insomnium if you’re into melodic death doom, another Finnish speciality.
Sweden’s doom metal scene gave us Candlemass, but there is also plenty of quality music to be found in the 90’s and 2000’s. My two favorite death/doom albums are from Sweden (Katatonia’s “Brave Murder Day” and Slumber’s “Fallout”), and there are many newer bands that play quality doom metal as well. Isole play epic doom with a modern twist. Krux is a solid Candlemass spinoff with downtuned guitars.
October Tide, Draconian and DOOM:VS are all good bands from the more death metal side of the doom spectrum. Enshine provides a worthy succession to Slumber with it’s more spacy, shoegazy take on the sound.
Except the obvious fact that the U.K. gave birth to doom metal through Black Sabbath, the scene was instrumental in creating the death/doom metal style. The “Peaceville Three” (Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost) emerged in the early 90’s and layed down the foundation for the subgenre. Anathema and Paradise Lost soon left the genre behind, only to keep producing classics in other musical styles. The Crawling (death/doom) and Monolith Cult (traditional doom) keep the quality high in the new millennium.
The U.S. had bands like Pentagram, Solitude Aeturnus and Saint Vitus in the past. Today there is a variety of good bands from the U.S. in different doom metal subgenres. Daylight Dies is a particular gem for me, delivering some of the best death/doom ever written. Absolutely essential band! There are also notable other death/doom bands from the United States like Woccon, Atten Ash, Novembers Doom and Evoken.
Doom metal record labels
There are some records labels with doom focus that are worth keeping tabs on for new music. Check them out below:
- Avantgarde Music
- Black Lion Records
- Rain Without End Records/Naturmacht Productions
- Transcending Records