Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Is Doom?

This is from Doom-metal.com:

What Is Doom According To Shrike

The question that seems to annoy a lot of people and lead to heated discussions and even verbal fights. I’m going to try and add my 2 cents into the discussion.

Most of the arguments arise from the disagreement of what is to be considered doom, if the band has lyrics with some positive things in them or if the music has “groove” are usual reasons to dismiss bands and music. Personally, I think that doom can be divided into two basic categories: Classic/Traditional Doom (which I will refer to as Doom from now on) and Doom-Metal.

The difference between these styles is that Doom is derived from 70’s heavy music (Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, what ever you wish to call it) and generally from the heavier groups that came about in the early 70’s, late 60’s. Doom-Metal has some influences from there too, but they tend to mix it with 80’s Death Metal and other such styles, which were very harsh and brutal.

So, when Doom bands concentrate very much on the melodies and very stripped down way of making their music, the Doom-Metal ones tend to emphesize extremes and roughness. There are exceptions to this, as was pointed out to me, but here I’m trying to simplify things and leave the “special cases” out, bands that borderline both of my definitions.

Getting back to the roots of Doom in general, I’d like to add a few of my personal observations to the history and FAQ that are available at Doom-Metal.Com.

I too think that Black Sabbath are the forefathers of the genre and have made a big impact in the genre as whole, but I’d like to add some bands that I feel deserve a mention.

Black Widow First, Blue Cheer is one that has to be mentioned. Some of their stuff has a light rock feel to them and they cover songs like Eddie Cochrans ‘Summertime Blues’, but some of their songs ooze heaviness. The stuff that they released around the change from 60’s to 70’s mainly. Another one I think is worth a mention is Black Widow from Italy. Their ‘Sacrafice’ LP is really heavy and they incorporated some of the now very popular satanic themes in to their lyrics (with lines like “Come, Come, Come to the sabbath, satans there” heh heh). Also Cream should be mentioned. I can’t say much about them as I’ve never listened to them that much, but they get mentioned so much so I’ll just bring that to your attention.

During the 80’s the genre had a lot of bands playing and recording, and as Doom-Metal.com history says, there were bands like St. Vitus, Obsessed, definately Trouble and so on, but there were others too that should be mentioned, bands like Witchfinder General and DeathRow/Pentagram.

In the 90’s, when doom got “on its feet” again, the two distinct genres were actually formed. Doom fans in general got kinda segragated, on the other side is the Doom-Metal fans who don’t take classic doom bands into consideration at all when discussing this genre and Doom fans call the newer style bands Death-Doom or whatever, thus trying to push it out of the Doom category.

Spirit Caravan To futher delve into the things that makes any music Doom to me, I’d have to agree that the lyrical content is part of it. Lyrics are usually pretty bleak, they deal with “bad” things that can happen to one or with things that one would want to happen to someone or something that they hate and dislike.

The music is usually slow paced, sometimes sleepy even, with grand eloquent melodies that makes the music seem “massive” so to speak. There are exceptions though. Like one of my personal favourite from the Classic Doom genre, Spirit Caravan. Their music has groove to it, it has awesome melodies and sometime very melancholy overall feeling. Lyrics are overall positive tho, getting the better of bad things, of virtues like courage and getting rid of the bad traits.

Then there are bands like Skepticism, from the Doom-Metal genre, whose music is devoid of hope or salvation of anykind and lyrics are like beautiful dreamy poems, sinister yes, but beautiful in any case.

The point I am trying to make here is that doom in general is an acquired taste and its fans usually have pretty intense feeling towards it. We are a small crowd, and as such a natural resource that is almost extinct, where close mindedness could lead to a disaster of unwanted magnitude. What we have in common is the longing for musical misery, which could lead us away from personal misery and, in my case anyway, makes life a whole lot better. Don’t judge before you know what you are judging is the bottom line.

Lately Stonerrock has gotten mixed with Doom too, genre and music wise, which has caused further misunderstandings. I’ll put my definition of stonerrock here, as it seems to be an baffling concept. Stonerrock, mostly the stoner part in it, points to the over all vibe of the music. Usually slightly psychedelic, raunchy music that can have a lot of melancholic melodies, also upbeat at times, but basically carefree good going music. Sure, there are musicians who use drugs in those bands, but so do Doom and Doom-Metal bands. To put it shortly, stonerrock refers to the musical feel, not to the substance usage of the musicians.

- Jukka ‘Shrike’ Kolehmainen

No comments: