The 10 Best Doom Metal Bands of All-Time

Tommy Iommi

Doom metal is a sub genre of metal that musically and lyrically embraces the concepts of darkness, isolation, along with a feeling of intense dread or despair. Tempos are more on the slow side, creating a dense soundscape saturated with rich visions of dreamlike scenarios. Most of these bands have been influenced by the band, Black Sabbath, each adding the results of their own experimentation in music, with some doom metal bands even becoming progressive in nature. Listening to doom metal music often generates a feeling of being part of an epic tale, immersing the listener into a world swimming in darkness and enigmatic emotions.

10. Saint Vitus

 

The Saint Vitus 1986 album, “Born Too Late”, centered around feelings of loss, isolation and ostracization. In effect, it could be the definitive album which personifies the true context of “doom metal”. Known as one of the “Big Four” of doom metal bands, they appeared on the L.A. scene in 1979 by Scott Reagers, Mark Adams, Armando Acosta and Dave Chandler. Their musical stylings are described as more hardcore and aggressive rather than stoner, hypnotic and atmospheric. In 2019, they released “Saint Vitus”, and are currently listed as active. Current members include Dave chandler on guitar, Scott Reagers on vocals, Henry Vasquez on drums and Pat Bruders on bass.

9. Sleep

 

Considered a doom metal band with stoner accents formed in San Jose, California in the early 90’s. Made up of Al Cisneros on vocals and bass, Chris Hakius on drums and Tom Choi on guitar, the trio first went by the name of Asbestos Death. Soon after, they brought in guitarist Matt Pike. Their music is described as down-tuned, atmospheric and heavy. Their 1992 album, “Holy Mountain” is known as one of their best. “Holy Mountain” gives new listeners Sleep’s best interpretation of their unique blending of stoner and doom metal. Current members include Al Cisneros, Matt Pike and Jason Roeder and are on hiatus.

8. Type O Negative

 

According to Type O Negative vocalist, Pete Steele, their music sounds like “bad songs written on a Tuesday night.” Of course, their fans would definitely not agree, but that statement rings of a certain trait the band members share: A dry sense of humor. Indeed, it’s this irony that captivates many fans, bringing them into the fold. 1993’s album “Bloody Kisses” is considered a fan favorite, with Steele’s vocal delivery crashing with the brooding rhythms of each song. Harmony, brutal and dark vibes all topped off with a drizzling of sarcastic, lyrical offers, all blend together to make Type O Negative one of the best doom metal bands.

7. Anathema

 

Anathema emerged from Liverpool, England in 1990 under the name “Pagan Angel”. During their early years, they centered on perfecting their heavy, doom metal sound. This eventually progressed to more melodic, atmospheric sound, for which they are now known. Even though their musical experimentation moved toward the more progressive sound, their compositions still catered to the cravings of their fans had for the darker essence of their music. In 2017, Anathema’s album, “The Optimist” won the Album of the Year award. Anathema is still very active today with Mascot Label Group with the intent to release their 12th album, depending on the COVID-19 pandemic conditions.

6. Electric Wizard

 

Electric Wizard finds its inspiration in H.P. Lovecraft, along with magic, pot and the occult. Established in Dorset, England by Jus Oborn, Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening, Electric Wizard’s music captivates those who find the austere, grim, heavy and bare sound to their liking. It was the bands desire to delve into the ancient studies of mysticism coupled with drug experimentation which gave birth to their unique, doom metal “stoner” sound. In face, one of their best albums, “Dopethrone” released in 2000, can be considered an anthem to stoner doom metal. Like most bands, their members shuffled during the years, Current members include Jus Oborn, Glenn Charman, Liz Bunckingham and Mark Greening.

5. Pentagram

 

Pentagram is among the oldest of all doom metal bands. Formed way back in 1971, their music inspired a new generation of rock enthusiasts. Pentagram garnered their early fans while skimming the underground music scene in the 70’s. Known as one of the “Big Four” of doom metal, a title they share with Candlemass, Saint Vitus and Trouble, they were also known by the names of Virgin Death, Macabre, and Wicked Angel. Their 1987 album “Day of Reckoning” is often considered the band’s best by fans, as it has at its core, the essential blend of climactic darkness. Today, members include Bobby Liebling, Matt Goldsborough, Greg Turley, and Pete Campbell, and are currently collaborating on a new album.

4. Draconian

 

Founded in 1994 as Kerberos by Jesper Stolpe and Andy Hindenas, Draconian made its mark playing heavy melodic death metal. Within 7 months, another member was added to Kerberos, Anders Jacobsson. Anders would be handling the vocals and lyric writing. It was at this time that they changed their name from Kerebos to Draconian. The album which some consider to be their defining masterpiece, “The Burning Halo”, came into existence due to various fan requests. These fans wanted an album which blended their earliest songs with their newer offerings. Today, Draconian’s lineup consists of Anders Jacobsson, Heike Langhans, Johan Ericson, Jerry Torstensson, and Daniel Arvidsson.

3. Katatonia

 

Swedish band Katatonia is considered the precursors of the doom metal genre. With albums such as “Night is the New Day”, “Soliloquium”, and “Last Fair Deal Gone Down”, It’s evident why their fans consider them one of the best doom metal bands to ever exist. Members Jonas Renkse and Anders Nystrom formed Katatonia in 1991. Soon, the word got out with regards to the talent of this duo, and soon, Renkse and Nystrom found themselves with the task of adding more members to the band. The band experienced an influx of various members over the years. Currently, the band is comprised of Jonas Renske, Anders Nystrom, Daniel Lijekvist, Per Erikson and Niklas Sandin.

2. Candlemass

 

Candlemass is a doom metal band from Sweden. At the time of this writing, Candlemass has sold a total of 15 million albums worldwide. The founders include bassist Leif Eding and drummer Matz Ekstrom. Known as one of the “Big 4 of Doom Metal,” Candlemass was established in 1984 and is considered to be one of the main bands to establish doom metal as a genre to be taken seriously. Some of their best albums include “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus”, “Nightfall”, and “Tales of Creation”.

1. Black Sabbath

 

Black Sabbath hits the number one spot on our list of doom metal bands. Born in 1968 from the talents of guitarist Tony Lommi, Ozzy Osbourne on vocals, Bill Ward on drums and Geezer Butler on bass, they were previously known as Polka Tulk and Earth, before settling on the name Black Sabbath. The band’s heavy, doom metal sound is the result of their early experimentation with European folk music and blues. It has also been suggested that their unique mix of dark lyrics and heavy metal rhythms also inspired what is called “stoner music”. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, they eventually disbanded in 2017.

Final Thoughts

As can be seen, doom metal has a flavor which is quite singular. With the exception of Black Sabbath, doom metal is definitely not a candidate for those who indulge in mainstream music. However, this can be why it’s so captivating to some. Doom metal dares to leave the sugar coating that some popular music out of its makeup. It dares to confront the sensibilities of everyday life, which to some represents fakery of emotions, necessary for survival in the politically correct world of today. It presents its listeners to an alternative view, which some may find refreshing.

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