[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Ixion - Enfant de la Nuit (Finisterian Dead End)
If you had told me that one of the most interesting Doom releases this year would come from France, I would’ve told you where to shove your baguette. Alas, he we are with a stunning, lush Atmospheric Doom record from a French trio that consists of one guy singing and playing all of the guitars and drums, another guy singing and adding keyboards and yet another guy just singing. The album manages to combine the bleakness of the Doom/Death scene from the early 90s with majestic and downright beautiful movements that seem more like dreamy soundscapes than Doom Metal. They also manage to not go overboard with the song structures, keeping everything under or right around the 6-minute mark, allowing each composition to take hold and impress without growing stale. Fantastic album from start to finish. Time to check out their 2011 debut.
Mirror - Mirror (Metal Blade)
This is the debut album from an international quintet featuring, most notably, the dude with the fucking full face tattoo who was in Electric Wizard for about 5 minutes. Don’t expect another tired EW rip off record, though. These dudes specialize in classic Heavy Metal that wouldn’t have sounded out of place among the NWOBHM scene or even the few years before and after. The overall atmosphere is very Doom-like, but the tempos are up, the vocals are pretty majestic and there’s a lot of solid twin guitar action going on. At times the record borders dangerously close on “gimmick throwback album” territory and there’s not a lot of variance in the sound and songs structures, but overall it’s a pretty fun listen. I’m not sure if this is an actual band or just a one-off thing, based on the far-flung band members, but it’s a decent debut, regardless.
Swallow the Sun - Songs from the North I, II & III (Century Media)
The acclaimed Finnish purveyors of Melodic Doom/Death Metal have undertaken a pretty ambitious endeavor on their 6th album, which is actually a triple album, comprising over two and a half hours of new material. The first disc is more of the classic Swallow the Sun sound – heavy, slow and melodic, with some acoustic interludes and a combination of spoken word and harsh vocals. The second disc features a more stripped down, unplugged, mellow feel, with acoustics and pianos taking the forefront. The third disc is bleak as fuck, featuring some serious Funeral Doom and glacial tempos. As I said, it’s a pretty ambitious undertaking, but there isn’t exactly a ton of filler here. If they released these as three separate albums a year apart, I would still recommend each one, although I’d have a hard time justifying the middle disc as Metal. There’s a little something here for everyone.