[Click on band name for samples and more info]
Curse the Son - Isolator (Snake Charmer Coalition)
This is some solid, classic Stoner/Doom Metal on the third album from the New Haven, CT trio. They certainly aren’t reinventing the wheel or pushing the genre’s boundaries, but they have a very solid grasp on the trademark sound. Roaring fuzzy guitars, cymbal-heavy drums and reverb-drenched vocals that sit in the higher register; that combination never gets old in my opinion. That’s not to say that this is a generic release by any means. The songs are well written and these dudes know how to jam. If you like the heavier, slower, doomier end of the Stoner Metal spectrum, you can’t go wrong with this release.
Holy Grove - Holy Grove (Heavy Psych)
Because we can never have enough female-fronted Doom from Portland, I present you with the totally boss debut record from this northwestern quartet. This one relies heavily on 70’s rock staples like big drum intros, bluesy bass fills and monster riffs complimented by tasty leads. What really makes this one stand out, though, is the incredible vocal performance. The singer has a very powerful, soulful voice and she isn’t afraid to reach for the falsetto when called upon. This is a solid record end-to-end and again, while it’s not breaking any ground, it covers all of the bases and should be a fantastic addition to any contemporary Doom catalogue.
Monolith - Mountain (Final Gate)
It’s hard to keep the 300 bands called Monolith straight these days, but I think this German quartet goes a long way towards becoming THE Monolith on their second album. Despite the regrettable use of Ozzy-worship vocals that sound way too close to The Sword, this one pounds straight out of the gate with crushing Doom riffs offset by weirdo psychedelia, which creates a bit of a creepier atmosphere than your standard Doom record. The bass is also very audible and active on this album, which is always a nice bonus. There are also some catchy choruses and tons of hooks, which sound almost poppy. Overall, it’s a fun record.
Obsidian Sea - Dreams, Illusions, Obsessions (Nuclear War Now!)
The second album from this Bulgarian trio was a nice surpise. Amongst a sea of solid, but predictable Doom records, this one stands out with its traditional sound that somehow doesn’t sound incredibly dated or retro. Yes, the riffs are all minor key progressions and the vocals echo all over the place, but there’s an unquantifiable appeal that sets this one apart. In an era where every Doom band is aping the 70’s, these guys lean more on the mid-80’s Doom scene, picking out the best parts of Candlemass and Trouble and combining them into a stew that has tons of staying power.
The Temple - Forevermourn (I Hate)
This Greek quartet doesn’t exactly raid any past Doom eras on their debut album, instead going with a straightforward attack that oozes misery and despair. Eschewing the played out retro sound, these dudes have developed a sound that is truly their own and one which comes together beautifully on my favorite release of the week. The bass tone is irritatingly thin, but I’ll give them points for being original in that regard. The guitars absolutely make the record, though. While the ethereal vocals shine on every track, the riffage and melancholic leads are absolutely stunning. This is the rare record that makes you want to simultaneously weep and bang your head.