Monday, April 26, 2004

I can't believe some friends of mine complaining to me about the lack of regular entries to this blog. Man, it takes time to really sit down and think up something to write about that I feel anyone should (or could) be interested in. Believe me, the day this turns into a personal blog about me getting up in the morning, having a shave and taking the dog for a walk whilst I reminisce about summer's gone, is the day you'll stop reading it. Gimme a break!

OK, let's have a brief talk on DOOM. Yep, as in the genre of music. I've been digging the hell out of some of this stuff the last couple of years, and I think I should tell you about a couple of gems. What is Doom? Well, if you're asking that question then you're probably reading this site by mistake, but for those feeling clueless yet interested, go to www.doom-metal.com

Good Doom must simply follow three important rules:

1) Is it "heavy"? That is, are the guitars caked in a sea of distortion and down-tuned to the nth degree.

2) Is it slow? That is, is the prevalent beat of a sloth-like quality?

3) Is the atmosphere of the given proceedings "doomy"? Does it lend itself a general vibe of drug-soaked, anti-social behaviour?

If "Yes" on all three counts, you could be on a winner. I'm definitely no expert on the genre and don't have a great deal of doom recordings (it is but one of many styles I go nuts over on a rotating basis), but I can give you three, more recent bands to check out.

ELECTRIC WIZARD
This UK trio of substance-abusing, Devil-worshipping layabouts have been at it for a decade or so and get my vote as one of the Top 5 Bands from anywhere of the last 5 years. Primal-burn sludge of a torturously low-end variety, they spice up the doom cliches with an incredible psychedelic edge that lends their sound a twisted Acid Mothers/Skullflower/Hawkwind feel which tips them over the cliff every time. With fantasic accompanying artwork to all their releases and an aura of near-psychotic anti-social leanings, these upstanding (now-defunct?) English gents are the cream of the crop. Get Dopethrone, Come My Fanatics or Let Us Prey. Now.

SUNNO)))
This Doom duo, who essentially owe their entire being to the pioneering early '90s outputs of the mighty EARTH (see reviews in the Sub Pop entry below), are one of Doom's Great White Hopes. With Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley on board, both Golden Boys of the genre, SUNNO))) fall somewhere in the "avant-doom" category (I mean, if you have to have one). With no percussion and just a wall of guitar, keyboards and effects-driven distortion behind them, SUNNO))) achieve a sound buried - just like EARTH - somewhere near power electronics, doom-rock, Ambient and Metal Machine Music. The perfect downer. Both 3: Flight of the Behemoth and White 1 (which features a hilarious Julian Cope rant) get my highest honours.

KHANATE
Pronounced "Con-Eight", this Doom supergroup is made up of various members from SUNNO))), Goatsnake, Burning Witch, Atomsmasher, etc. and have taken the doom rock genre to new, and utterly ridiculous heights. I only have their Things Viral double LP on Load (the CD is on Southern Lord), but if it's anything to go by, they're one of the best and most unique units currently operating. The drum pace is slowed to all new depths, the songs dragged to all new lengths, the howled - "howl" is the only way you could describe it - vocals bely a whole a whole new sense of desperation and the abstract, stuttering style of the riffs, which rarely grind into full power-chord mode, gives it a real sense of something new. Most peculiar of all is the guitar sound. Straying from the standard Sabbath-esque dulset tones most Doom bands stick to like a religion, KHANATE possess a less metallic texture that reminds me of nothing else but, well, Fushitsusha. A Doom-y Haino? You bet. Now that's a good thing.

Next time: Corrupted, Warhorse, Boris, Sleep.

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