Old School Death/Doom Metal

John Coyne, Staff Writer

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Welcome to the world of metal, where there are subgenres for everything, and us metalheads have a very fun time arguing what is distinct between the genres and what albums fit the category, and most importantly, what are the HEAVIEST albums in said genre. Today we will be talking about Old School Death/Doom Metal. To recap, Old School means that the albums in the genre will be from roughly 1985-1995. The difference between straight-up Old School Death Metal (OSDM) and Old School Death/Doom Metal (OSD/DM) is obviously the doom element, but what does that mean? It meeaanss yoooooouuu goooooooooooooo slooooooooowwwwww… Mentioned previously in my Old School Finnish Death Metal article, was a band named Rippikuolu, and I explained how they were essentially a Doom/Death band because the riffs were so slow. OSD/DM holds a very special place in my heart because it was the time between me listening to OSDM and Brutal Death Metal (BDM) and Slam (Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo). If the production, guitar, and bass tones are done right, sometimes I think OSD/DM can be heavier than BDM and Slam. Another defining characteristic of the genre is the use of semi-melodic passages as well as dissonant passages with creepy harmonies over low, (literally meaning lower notes) long swooping power chords. Mentioned earlier, if the production, guitar, and bass tones are done right, there is no other genre that makes me smile more when listening to music.

On the topic of the production, the first album to segway into would be Purtenance’s Member of Immortal Damnation. The album cover art is literally a skeleton riding a skeleton horse as another skeleton rises from the grave. How freakin’ cool is that!? Besides the amazing artwork, the production of this album is simply monstrous. The riffs are great of course, but upon the first listen of this album, the part that made me come back was the intro to the 8th track on the album, Reality Isn’t Disappeared. A nice creepy doom riff is played once, and then, all of a sudden, the BASS comes in and, holy moly, does it become some heavy goodness. No matter what volume I have my speakers set at, I hear the bass slightly bottom out and I physically feel my desk vibrate. What an album this is… And on the topic of speakers vibrating, the award for most shaking goes to Ceremonium’s Into the Autumn Shade. Simple album art, a nice tree with pretty colors, pretty straightforward riff patterns, but my Ghosh is the tone crushing. Riff after riff of just speaker-shaking doom. Probably the heaviest OSD/DM album out there, and overall, the album is just fun to listen to – nothing but smiles and awe.

The other side of OSD/DM is taking the dissonance in doom riffs to the next level. This is especially prevalent on Autopsy’s Mental Funeral widely considered the best OSD/DM album of all time. When I was first discovering death metal between 8th and 9th grade, this was among the first albums I listened to, and upon my first listen I was never as creeped out as I was listening to that album since the first time I listened to Seasons in the Abyss by Slayer. The atmosphere is big on this album as well. It’s actually quite hard to explain what makes this album amazing, you just have to listen to it…

Now for my favorite OSD/DM of all time… Fleshcrawl’s Descend Into the Absurd. The name of the album is very fitting for what you feel like doing after listening to it. This album covers all aspects of OSD/DM that certain bands do better than others, and pulls them off flawlessly. The second song on the album Phrenetic Tendencies, following the beautiful atmospheric intro song (that’s 2 minutes and 32 seconds long) Between Shadows They Crawl, embodies what it means to “Descend Into the Absurd.” The intro riff on Phrenetic Tendencies is what it feels like to enter in absurdity and then the main riff becomes what it means to be absurd. Other great songs on the album are Perpetual Dawn with this semi-melodic magical riff that is so catchy, Pusulent Bowel Erosion with another intro riff that makes me prune-up/smile (hard to explain the emotion) because it is so evil and gritty. I honestly think that this album is great to start with when delving into OSD/DM as well, and if you seem to dig the slow-paced riffs and regard them as heavier because they’re slow, then you might be able to evolve into BDM and Slam (the best genres of music) just like I did.

Stay metal \m/

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