OPHTHALAMIA – A Journey in Darkness (Avantgarde Music, 1994)

While primarily known for his work with black metal/noise-pioneers Abruptum and assorted non-musical activities in the – at least locally – infamous “True Satanist Horde”, it is the strange entity of Ophthalamia that remains as Tony “IT” Särkkä’s (RIP 1972-2017) greatest artistic achievement. Ophthalamia’s debut album A Journey in Darkness stood out in the early 1990s black metal-environment with its anachronistic and all-around peculiar mode of expression. In rough terms, the music can be described as a blend of black-, doom-, and heavy metal with the conceptual and structural trappings of 1970s progressive rock.

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Atlantean Kodex The Course of Empire

Bavarian Heavy metal band Atlantean Kodex return with their third opus The Course of Empire after a long six year wait following the excellent The White Goddess. This band is known for their penchant for the grandiose and is deeply rooted within strong Bathory and early Manowar influences played in the style of Solstice, but this time round the band add influences from Dio while maintaining the bardic tradition at the heart of this band. This record seeks to add a much grander cinematic scope to the music and the band do so with a much more maximalist approach to aesthetics in this sparse style of composition.

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Rippikoulu – Musta Seremonia (1993)

Its name translating to “Black Ceremony,” Rippikoulu’s legendary demo was released only on tape at the time before being reissued by Svart Records seventeen years later, allowing for the democratisation of this powerful release for those would endure such a bludgeoning. Clear yet rumbling production allows for distinctly Finnish melodies in a simple death/doom form that is derived from the grindcore available at the time. Though this could be qualified as being a second or third tier Finnish record, very few are able to muscially evoke physical oppression as well as Rippikoulu.

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Forgotten Silence – Thots (1996)

Most musicians view metal as a question of technique, as exemplified by their answers to the question of what defines metal, when in fact the real difficulty lies in finding something that can tie all of that technique together and have enough energy and space to express enough of relevance to achieve what we call meaning. Forgotten Silence nails the technique… only.

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Mordor – Csejthe (1992)

Medievalism with disdain towards life, punishingly tardive and yet theatrical, this is epitaphial death metal with an aim. This aim is to reframe a life of industrial decay by the droning transcendental funeral of the God in man. This is the soundtrack of living in Mordor.

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Children Of Doom by Eduardo Vitolo (2018)

In the early 1990s, once it seemed that death metal had fired off its initial salvo and lost momentum by late 1992, the record labels immediately turned to what they had next in line to keep the kids occupied, doom metal. This followed years of gradual increase in interest based on the sound that Saint Vitus and Candlemass carried on from Black Sabbath, and tried to jump over recent hardcore- and prog-rock-influenced history to return metal to its heavy rock roots.

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Inverloch – Distance | Collapsed (2016)

Inverloch are an Australian death/doom four piece mostly known for being composed of half of the members of Disembowelment and for being considered their rightful heir. With projects like these there is a fine line between upholding the heritage of a previous project and reiterating past works in hope of achieving former glory. Inverloch straddle that thin line but also manage to find influence in much more recent branches of death metal and the funeral doom subgenre and overall create an enjoyable piece of work that may push the listener towards the greater releases in the genre, especially Transcendence into the Peripheral.

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Interview with Cromlech (CA)

The Canadian band Cromlech strode forth boldly onto the field of battle with the promising album “Ave Mortis” in 2013.  Honing their tactics and weapon-craft, in 2017 they released their excellent EP “Iron Guard.”  Blending doom, death, and classic heavy metal influences the mighty Cromlech is the tip of the spear in the coming resurgence of epic power metal. In a brief lull between battles, the members of Cromlech most nobly took a few minutes to answer some interview questions.

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Atlantean Kodex Live Album is Bad

At first glance, this album boasts a cool cover and impressively long song lengths, making a strong first impression. Then I hit play. It didn’t take long to realize this is really, really bad live album. It is not tightly played at all. The two guitars are not in sync and neither are the drums. You have to suffer through really bad lyrics like: “Onward to the sun” and “Destiny is calling!”. Everything is really bad waltzy Sabbath imitation but really boring. I can fairly say that this album qualifies as epic German cheese. So of course it will be popular. The singer sounds like the guy who sang those Budweiser ads Real Men of Genius.
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Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth (1993)

In addition to its notoriously contradictive definitional nature, doom metal remains something of an enigma in terms of its enduring popularity. Whether or not one chooses to view it as a distinctive subgenre, style or even technique, doom metal must bear one of the most in-proportionate quotas within metal music when it comes to quantity over quality.  If attempting to depict doom metal from the perspective of enduring releases, the list of canonical works would become surprisingly short.  It seems plausible that part of the explanation to this sad state is embedded in the very characteristics of the style.  Doom bands have generally prioritized development of exceptionally powerful tools for conveying sonic heaviness at the expense of other aspects of the music. It might even be so that the techniques in themselves has forced artists into a particular way of writing music. Either way, there appears to be a widespread discrepancy between the means of expression and what is actually being expressed in doom metal; which in turn provides clues as to what makes for a genuinely satisfying doom-offering. With the above discussion in mind, today’s written offering presents the Australian death/doom act Paramaecium – one of few bands bearing the doom-tag that has managed to write compositions to match the sonic gravitas associated with said style.
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