The Best Doom Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2018





Pain, despair, loss, melancholy. This is the third full-length in which Clouds manage to dive into sadness more convincingly than anyone else in the business. Daniel Neagoe's and his notable guests' atmospheric doom metal is unparalleled in how it transforms into music the feeling of emotionally and physically missing someone. Brimming with passion, Dor pays homage to those who long and who yearn.

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Without question one of the biggest anomalies for doom metal in 2018, the UK's elusive Corpselium offers up a bizarre sound here that's something of a combination of Blut Aus Nord and Esoteric, but also so much more. Said to be the work of one individual, Storm Of Shadows is a stimulating, hallucinatory journey through swirling doom psychedelia, subtle shades of black metal influence, and some DEEP, operatic vocals you'd be hard-pressed to believe aren't the work of a literal ghost. Trance-inducing, puzzling, and a gift that keeps on giving, this one is not to be overlooked.

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After ten long years, Niclas Frohagen has returned, and with him the darkness and melancholy of the forest. Apparently, time doesn't mean much for the Swedish doomster as Among The Dormant Watchers brings back the wonderful and highly emotional melodic doom that gave the project its cult status back in the early 2000s. Touches of acoustic sorrow are sprinkled throughout the album, and though the riffing may be felt as uplifting during certain climaxes, the pain is very real. Rejoice, fanatics of gloomy melodies: it was worth the wait.

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Having gotten a bit more attention since vocalist Jón Aldará also started performing with Barren Earth, Hamferð still benefit from his extremely versatile and emotive performance, even when singing in a language most of us do not understand, which can just as clearly transmit the feelings of dread, desolation, and bereavement that Támsins Likam's story is filled with. While the range only ever switches from very slow to moderately slow, Hamferð know how to occasionally shift dynamics whether tempo-wise, instrumentation-wise, or vocal style-wise. Too melodic to be a funeral doom album, too slow to be a melodic death-doom album, Támsins Likam sits right on the fence between the two, making the best out of both crushing grief and emotional melodies.

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Khemmis started out seemingly at the top of their game already, but they just keep adding layers. Pick a style or an artist within doom and you'll likely hear it reflected in Desolation, whose versatile nature is matched by the strength of its performances and songwriting. The vocals are charismatic, the guitars expressive, the percussion excitable and driving, but that accessible exterior is piled on a layer of grit that won't hesitate to slide into the open. Desolation spreads its sound even farther afield than the first two albums, so you'll hear blackened tirades mixed in with clean vocal harmonies that will make Khemmis the envy of any metal band that calls itself melodic. Welcome to Desolation: it's Doom Without Borders.

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There's been some fuss in recent years about doom taking a more progressive approach, but usually being more subtle in its progressive influences than other genres. King Goat struck that chord amazingly with 2016's Conduit, but Debt Of Aeons cuts back on those at first, leaving the first part of the album to focus on the epic doom side of their music, fueled by Anthony Trimming's cruel rasps to soaring operatics. The final two songs (+ an interlude) take a turn towards the more intricate sound that they established on their debut.

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Sure, a lot of doom bands (stoner types, mostly) are into the Middle Eastern aesthetic, but Lowen goes far beyond just snagging an acoustic guitar to play some harmonic minor scales on the intro track. The crackling guitars and shimmering keys radiate melancholy like the heat of the desert sun; these plodding, interminable passages create the drone of vast, desolate space, causing the sounds to vibrate and distort as if you were witnessing a mirage. Nina Saeidi's unearthly voice stays mostly within the same narrow range, contributing to the unsettling, hypnotic buzz. Lowen sounds so haunted for such a young band - but you might be a little off, too, if you had just spent an eternity wandering featureless wastes of sand.

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Messa's debut, Belfry, surprised folks with its blend of drone and female-fronted traditional doom. Feast For Waters cuts back on the drone a little bit, but in its place it manages to fit in all these jazzy sections (yes, there's a saxophone, so it's jazz) to complement the bluesier, sludgy doom, giving the songwriting a lot of dynamism, and thus none of the 7-plus-minute tracks feel overstretched. Couple that with how Sara's vocals have improved slightly since Belfry, as well as how much the production makes the album sound elegant in certain sections, and that's how Feast For Waters builds upon the strengths of its predecessors.

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Number seven is the one. You'll get what I mean. Nebula Septem is Monolithe's seventh studio album and present another strong-solid doom release, with the continuation of exploring mysteries of the everlasting cosmic void. Seven Frenchmen composed seven nicely shaped, creative tracks, clinging to overflowing atmospheric, sinister tones. With some more experimentation, by that not including the fact that each track reaches the (exact) seven-minute mark, Nebula Septem offers a massive, galactic sound with accessible feeling of perception.

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Eternal Return sees Windhand getting a little heavier than memory recalls them being previously. A little more riff-driven and even grungy at points, the album shifts a little stylistically while still containing most if not all of what's made Windhand's music so good already. Tasty guitar lines, a great rhythm section, the beautiful vocals of Dorthia Cottrell, plus a little extra oomph compared to the usual help make this an ideal album to groove out and bob your head to.

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