We are currently blessed with what is quite possibly the best doom metal scene of all time. There are countless bands guiding the scene forward right now, and while big bands like Yob and Pentagram are rightful guardians, there is a burgeoning underground that is far too often ignored. While some festivals like Psycho California capitalize on this, these bands could always do with more exposure.
The thing that makes this modern doom scene so exciting is that a lot of these acts are bringing in new elements that have never before been heard in the genre. We're suddenly seeing bands like Grayceon who use cellos to accentuate their unique brand of sludge metal as well as the baroque chord progressions and ground bass found in the music of Pallbearer. At the same time touches of jazz are being brought into the melodic lines for bands like Elder.
Sometime in the last decade or so, doom metal became high art, and we want to tell you about seven of the best bands out there right now that might have escaped your attention. Some of these groups are signed and have even toured internationally, but all are far too often ignored, even by doom metal aficionados. Digging into this scene is incredibly rewarding, and we're here to help you out!
These Conan-endorsed Swedish stalwarts are probably the closest thing to 'traditional' doom on this list. Their unique sound, full of crushing drones, incredible layered vocals and soaring riffs has captured the hearts of legions of fans and even scored them a spot on an American tour opening for Windhand. That being said, these guys still haven't received anything near the recognition they deserve. They've taken the entire traditional doom metal polemic as presented by bands like Candlemass and Cathedral and flipped it on its head, acknowledging the idiom but making it wholly their own. Monolord have been able to craft an overwhelming sound that will leave any fan in awe.
Remember when Pallbearer burst onto the scene a couple years ago and then immediately had everyone go gaga over them? Well Un have a similar potential even though their sound is far less poppy and instead reflective of the demented scene from which they came. Their epic guitars and crushing growls carry the listener off into a potent listening experience that few other bands can emulate. Sharing members with Samothrace and Idols, these guys could very well be the next darlings of the sprawling doom metal scene. With their debut record due out December 4th on Jon Paul Davis(lead singer of Conan)'s label Black Bow Records, big things seem to be happening in their world.
When I saw Bloodmoon live at Psycho California 2015, I was utterly blown away. In just under forty-five minutes, these guys re-shaped how I viewed doom metal. They sound like no one else and have a distinct artistic vision. Though things have been a bit quiet in their camp recently (2013's earth shaking Voidbound is their latest release) they have exciting things stirring and multiple releases in the works. The band has been gradually building up hype over a period of several years to the point that those in the know are just waiting for Bloodmoon to explode. The band's fusion of genres into a doom metal assault has always been a pleasure to hear, and now, after seven years of hard work, it may finally be time for Bloodmoon's day in the sun.
4. Serial Hawk
When I caught these guys live in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, I did not expect to be as flattened as I was. A band who place a heavy emphasis on putting space into their songs and giving the music room to breathe, Serial Hawk have a distinct approach that still manages to fit into the doom idiom. While, yes, here and there you get moments of Yob worship, Serial Hawk have managed to carve out a sound that is a fascinating mixture of genres. As with Bloodmoon, they've been building up to this point for years now and their debut full length Searching For Light has the potential to dominate top 10 lists come December.
3. The Flight of Sleipnir
These guys are one of my favorite bands on the scene right now, combining viking metal with their own unique brand of doom. Using potent compositions and epic soundscapes, they have been able to refine their work into something that is wholly their own. While many say that the pagan metal genre is played out, The Flight of Sleipnir are able to put together some truly special music that acknowledges the traditional tropes whilst simultaneously pushing the genre to a new level of excellence. There is a sense of sublime poetry in what these guys do that helps to make this band unlike any other. These Odinic Wanderers invoke the power of the northern gods to craft some of the most mind-altering doom that you will ever hear.
Though I only just found out about these guys back in July, they have rapidly become one of my favorite doom metal bands in the world. These guys shatter every paradigm you might have had about the genre, using slow guitars merely as a backdrop for horns, flutes and more. Toss in multi-layered vocal harmonies alongside a few black metal parts and you start to get a sense for how incredibly diverse this band is. Fusing jazz with classical and pop with doom in Dreadnought's sound you can hear everything from Miles Davis to Mike Scheidt. These guys are one of the premier examples of the pure artistry of doom in its modern form and seem ready to take on the world.
This is perhaps the best known band on this list, but I can not rave enough about them. Implementing two violinists to accentuate their unique brand of droney and atmospheric doom metal this female-fronted quintet uses a lineup perhaps never before seen in heavy music. Vaguely psychedelic but also ground in earthy rhythms, SubRosa have it all. Like Dreadnought, they easily balance avant-garde ideas with far more traditional ones, leading to a simply luscious sound that will leave any doom metal fan scraping their jaw from the floor. Having already garnered the blessing of bands like Eyehategod and Cult of Luna, these guys may very well be the doom masters of their generation.