[Click on band name for samples and more info]
88 Mile Trip - Through the Thickest Haze (N/A)
The debut album from this Vancouver quintet packs in a shitload of gnarly Stoner Metal riffs. The Jim Morrison-esque vocals are a little grating after a while, but don’t let that deter you from taking a chance on these dudes. The rhythm section is particularly impressive on this record, as the drummer and bass player split time in a Thrash outfit and bring that aggression to the realm of Stoner Metal, offering a unique perspective. The record is a bit front-loaded, slowing down the tempos drastically towards the end. There are also a handful of bass solos, if that floats your boat. If these guys stop listening to The Cult, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Church - Unanswered Hymns (Battleground)
The debut album from the Sacramento quintet (who use the names Church and Chrch concurrently) is a dissertation in filthy Doom/Sludge Metal. With just three tracks totaling nearly 45 minutes, be prepared for a lengthy, sometimes uncomfortable listening session. With equal parts crushing Doom and eerie drone, the record makes fantastic use of dynamics to lull the listener into a sense of calm before circling back and pummeling them into oblivion. The vocals just kind of float in the background, letting the music take center stage to devastate your eardrums. As is the case with these lengthy Doom albums, repeated listens are probably your best bet.
King Heavy - King Heavy (Cruz Del Sur)
Chile has long had a thriving Black and Death Metal scene, but I haven’t heard a lot of Doom coming from west of the Andes. On their debut album, this quartet blasts out some epic Candlemass-style Doom with vocals reminiscent of the great Matt Barlow. It’s pretty straightforward Doom for the most part, but they do pick up the tempo quite a bit in places, which lends a nice heavy touch. I don’t really have much to add on this album. If you like Candlemass and Iced Earth, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll dig this record.
Serial Hawk - Searching for Light (Bleeding Light)
Absolutely crushing debut album from the Seattle Sludge Metal trio. The emphasis here isn’t on fancy riffing, but just sheer heaviness. For three dudes just bashing away on one chord for minutes at a time, there’s something hypnotic about the album. They manage to make the simplest of riffs seem interesting and devastating at the same time. The vocals are basically your standard Sludge shouts, which is to be expected. The 18 minute final track takes nearly 5 minutes to kick in, but it’s definitely worth the wait, with some of the best guitar work on the entire album.
Windhand - Grief's Infernal Flower (Relapse)
I’m a huge fan of this Richmond quintet, so I’ve been anticipating this release for a long time, ever since my mind was blown by 2013’s Soma. The follow-up, the group’s 3rd album, exceeds every one of my expectations. Clocking in at over 70 minutes, there’s just so much to absorb here. The Doom riffage is some of the heaviest around and Dorthia Cottrell may be the best vocalist in all of the land, not just in Metal. The haunting vocals floating above the maelstrom are a perfect complement to the fuzzed-out heaviness. Strong contender for 2015’s best record.
Witchsorrow - No Light, Only Fire (Candlelight)
It’s tough to play traditional Doom in 2015 and sound fresh, but this UK trio has managed to pull it off over the course of their three albums. The latest release is definitely a step up from the previous two, with the band coming into their own sound and leaving behind some of the overt Cathedral worship that was a bit too prevalent during their Rise Above Records era. The album opener makes that statement in a huge way, with thrashed-out tempos, before the record reverts back into a more traditional Doom pace. If you’re a Doom fan, this is a must listen.