On their debut album ‘1823’, US metal band EMBR wasted no time in introducing their talents with a heavy riff. Across its seven songs, there were strong callbacks to doom and sludge greats like Crowbar jostling with flourishes that suggested a love of the darker side of the grunge and goth movements. Unlike so many other similar releases was a strong melodic core, helped no end by some great vocal performances from Crystal Bigelow. The band closed the year with a surprise covers EP, ‘Idolatory’, which further showcased their natural abilities for heavy sounds, as well as a love for some of Seattle’s finest exports. After that release, there was no doubt that this would be a band to watch out for in the future.
Indiana death metal/extreme metal band Death On Fire cover a wide musical ground on the follow up to their 2020 long player ‘Ghost Songs’. The ‘Six Foot Box’ EP only features three tracks, but by taking elements of old school thrash metal, a pinch of black metal coldness and broad strokes of doom, the material almost feels as if it crams in a full album’s worth of ideas into a little under fifteen minutes.
Polish doom blues trio Weird Tales laid down some pretty heavy vibes on their 2019 long player ‘Hell Services Cost a Lot’. Bookended by two lengthy workouts absolutely laden with distortion, it cared not for giving first time listeners anything easily digestible. Lurching through various slow and heavy moods, and with each track seemingly as oppressive as the last, it eventually blurred into a near hour’s worth of sludge. While those riffs were impressive – at least to begin with – a disregard for actual songs meant it was an album for the most committed doom fiends only.
An extreme metal act from Miami, Frank’s Enemy have been making intensive noises since 1992. Often combining grindcore, death metal and doom elements, the band’s sound has never been for the faint of heart. Their 2020 album ‘Abnormalized’ was scheduled for release in September, but as of January 2021, it’s still “under construction” with new tracks being added sporadically via their Bandcamp site.
The simple and heavy approach of doom metal often lends itself to a “live in the studio” sound. When you consider how many doom and sludge bands have taken their cues from the first two Black Sabbath albums and Rodger Bain’s pioneering but minimalistic production style, it sort of makes sense that many working within these often insanely heavy subgenres would take a quick, no-frills approach to recording. That’s not always the case with Evangelist. The mysterious and Lovecraft obsessed Polish doom merchants took two years to record their debut album across various sessions, and although later releases came together in a more streamlined way, nothing was ever completed on the quick and the cheap.