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The Road Goes Ever On - My Metal Journey So Far (Part 2)

Written by: F3ynman
Published: June 08, 2024

Two years ago, I reported about the history of my metal exploration with an article showcasing 30 albums that were influential to my developing music taste. The first part of my journey took me from classic heavy metal bands (Judas Priest, Dio, Iron Maiden) to the founding fathers of thrash (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer), through titans of death metal (Death, Entombed, Autopsy) to the gods of black metal (Dissection, Necrophobic, Emperor). After dipping my toes in some doom, progressive, power, and the beginnings of post metal, I believed that I had successfully speed-run through everything that metal music had to offer. But, to my great satisfaction, I soon realized there was much, much more. More to be discovered, more to be experienced, more to bang my head to.

Today marks my third anniversary of being a Metal Storm user. I've now been delving for over five years in the metal universe, and I don't plan to stop anytime soon. In this article, I will present the albums that have influenced me the most these past two years since I published that first anniversary article. In order to maintain some sort of coherence and structure, I have organized the albums by their genre. In each genre section, I will go in the chronological order in which I discovered the albums.

Whether it means revisiting an old classic or discovering something entirely new, I hope that my words will inspire you to give each of these albums a listen! So, without further ado, let's dive right in!

Songs for the Dying and Songs to Die for: Doom Metal

My previous encounters with gothic metal were rather brief and not all that impressive for me. Paradise Lost’s Draconian Times had some good songs, but ended up being too frontloaded; Moonspell’s Irreligious was alright, although I vastly preferred their early black metal days; and Type O Negative’s Bloody Kisses was a strange mixed bag of quality. Then I stumbled upon Virgin Black’s Sombre Romantic, and I instantly fell in love with its incredible gothic doom style. On the one hand, there is so much pure beauty on display with Rowan London's operatic singing, his delicate piano playing, and Samantha Escarbe’s elegant guitar solos. But, on the other hand, there's also so much palpable suffering and darkness with all those agonizing cries and fierce, chaotic riffing. I just absolutely adore the diversity and flexibility in their approach, being able to effortlessly go from playing angelic, gothic symphonies to producing badass, demonic black metal within the same song.
While Sombre Romantic creates the greatest contrasts between the bizarre and the beautiful tracks, Virgin Black’s next album titled Elegant… And Dying provides a more focused and mature approach, creating a truly awe-inspiring and worthy successor. Both of these albums share a great collection of highlights, but the ones I treasure the most are “Drink The Midnight Hymn” with its headbang-inducing main riff, “Lamenting Kiss” with its mix of melancholic guitar and fist-pumping percussion, “Velvet Tongue” with those amazingly anguished vocals (“Look at my face! Look at God in my eyes!”), and the 17-minute-long definition of epicness: “The Everlasting” with its chilling lyrics “The faceless haunts me”, ominous choirs, intricate piano playing, and a super satisfying climax of frenzied, blackened riffs. Despite Virgin Black’s famous and very impressive orchestral Requiem trilogy, their first two albums occupy a special place in my heart and will remain among my favorites for some time.

Cherno marked one of the first times that I enjoyed an album that wasn't sung in either of my native languages (English and German). Kypck showed me that I didn't need to understand the Russian words to feel the intense emotions behind the melodic yet menacing singing. The instrumentation on this debut album is extremely varied, ranging from the unsettling whining guitars and thunderous droning on “The Black Hole” to the bouncy anthem of “Stalingrad” and the morose “Demon”. It's also a perfectly structured album, starting with an eerie instrumental track, before one is steamrolled by the crushing riffs of “Christmas in Murmansk”. And, if you turn up your volume high enough, you'll even pick out sounds of men playing Russian Roulette at certain times throughout the album.
Their next installment, Nizhe, didn't disappoint either, presenting a series of phenomenal songs such as “Alley of Stalin”, “Rupture”, and “Comrades” that I recommend to any fan of destructive doom. Sadly, just as I was beginning to get into their discography, the band began to distance themselves from Russian associations due to the war in Ukraine, culminating in an announcement of the end of Kypck as it currently exists. Even if they still return in some shape or form to play doom metal of a similar style, it surely won't be quite the same without the beautiful melancholy and ominous contempt conveyed so elegantly by Kypck’s Russian vocals.

For me, heaviness means slow, steady, and absolutely crushing. And practically nothing compares to the sensations of being hit by the riptide of the rolling sonic waves of Ahab’s doom on their debut album. As one journeys along with Captain Ahab's crew across stormy seas, the vocals seem to get progressively lower pitched in their delivery, reaching a baffling depth on the last track—especially with the subterranean utterance of “Moby Dick”. The bright lead guitar tunes and keyboard melodies contrasts with the megaton heaviness of the rhythmic riffs. The drum beats from the deep, performed at a consistent marching pace, are patient yet uncompromising, just like the ebb and flow of the ocean. It's an empowering experience whenever I go on a walk while listening to this album, my footfalls matching every inevitable drum beat.
There is little in doom that can touch, let alone top, this behemoth. It's not just a gripping tale of revenge—a desperate hunt for a monstrous foe. It's an oppressive experience that eerily conveys the fear of the unknown expanses of the sea, all the while blanketing the listener in a crushing aural tsunami. In every song, the musicianship builds up all of this anticipation, before delivering on the promised pay-off in an extremely satisfying style. This is how funeral doom must sound like. And, while I did go on to enjoy some Lovecraft-inspired funeral doom of Tyranny and Catacombs, I have yet to listen to a doom album that can surpass The Call Of The Wretched Sea.

Despite initially enjoying many albums by melodeath bands such as In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and Be'lakor, I quickly found myself becoming somewhat numb to the genre, failing to find melodeath albums that truly amazed me anymore. I experienced a similar phenomenon in the melodic death doom scene. Bands like Anathema and Paradise Lost, except for a couple of songs, couldn't really get me hooked, while My Dying Bride were certainly more enjoyable, but were not all too extraordinary in my opinion.
My interest for this form of melodic doom was revitalized by Katatonia’s Brave Murder Day. The ever-permeating melancholy, the magical riffs, and, of course, Mikael Åkerfeldt's beautifully menacing growls fill me with awe every time I give this album a spin. While I prefer the interplay of deep vocals, heavy riffs, and eerie lead guitar melodies on songs like “Brave” and “Endtime”, I've also become fond of the unexpectedly dreamy and almost psychedelic track “Day”. Other melodic doom albums I came to appreciate are Katatonia’s Dance Of December Souls and Estatic Fear’s Somnium Obmutum. But, as it stands, in terms of balancing beautiful melody and heavy melancholy in death doom, I don't think Brave Murder Day can be topped.

Insert “Sweet Leaf” Coughing Noises Here: Stoner Rock / Stoner Metal

After exploring some gothic doom, Soviet doom, funeral doom, and melodic death doom, it's time to turn to another doom-adjacent genre: stoner, where the guitar riff reigns supreme!

Black Sky Giant - End Of Days Pilgrimage

When searching for inspiration, we often look to old classics that were the first to establish a certain style. Yet, I've found myself also being influenced by new releases such as Lucifer's Fall’s 2021 album, which acted as the impetus for my doom metal expeditions (see my first article). Similarly, while I absolutely adore Black Sabbath’s timeless Master Of Reality, it was Black Sky Giant’s 2022 album that really motivated me to dive deep into the exploration of stoner rock.
End Of Days Pilgrimage is composed of six purely instrumental tracks. Like the lumbering footfalls of a giant, the fuzzy guitars play undulating, mesmerizing riffs. The music flows so seamlessly and in such a seemingly effortless way, creating a psychedelic instrumental backdrop that's left to be filled by my wandering imagination. My mind journeys to distant planets of green skies and ancient ruins, explores mysterious desert cults, and takes a pilgrimage across barren desert sands.
Another recent release that sparked my interest in stoner doom was Green Lung’s 2019 album Woodland Rites. Listening to that record and being hit with its lively vibe, intriguing occult lyricism, and incredibly fun melodies, I became inevitably addicted to this groovy, catchy genre we call stoner.

Researching where this sound all began, I came across perhaps the quintessential stoner rock album: Kyuss’s eponymous release (although it should be called Welcome To Sky Valley, damn it!). The fuzzy sound of the guitars, the long, psychedelic passages, the catchy hooks, that twang in the vocals—it's clear that all these elements worked as the blueprint that every future stoner band would try to replicate. And it all still holds up to this day: the groovy melodies you can't help but bob your head to, the soulful vocal delivery that gets stuck in your head (“Hear her purrin’ motor! And she's a-burnin’ fuel!”). Listening to this album feels like drifting in a convertible along a desert highway, the sweltering sun in your eyes, the cool breeze in your hair. From the enticing, buzzing groove of "Gardenia" to the magnificently melodic riff of "Demon Cleaner", this album will ever remain a joy to return to.

Continuing down the road of classic stoner records, I also inevitably stumbled upon Sleep’s Dopesmoker. Unfortunately, I couldn't click with the rather uneventful hour-long droning. But, when I learned that the guitarist for Sleep started another band called High On Fire, I was totally sold on the formula: using the fantastic fuzzy sound of Sleep, yet adding a catchy groove to the lumbering riffs this time around. On The Art Of Self Defense, I love the rugged production quality and the dense, fuzzy guitar sound. The songwriting seems very unpolished and free-flowing, letting the ponderous guitar-work roll along for extended periods. The riffs on songs like “Baghdad”, “10,000 Years”, and “Master Of Fists” are simple yet extremely effective with their massive sonic weight.
I also went on to greatly enjoy their later album, Death Is This Communion, which veers further away from the patient droning of Sleep, embracing the more aggressive sludge side of the band. There are so many highlights that are always worth revisiting: the eerie yet groovy Lovecraftian title track, those gnarly riffs of “Turk”, the elegant instrumentation on “DII”, and the mystical lyrics of “Ethereal” that send chills down my spine every single time (“Fall through the ether lakes […] I knock on astral walls - gliding through demon halls // Its black wings wrap around me […] Cocooned and made to slumber”).

The rather unassuming cover art of some gloomy clouds and trees mirrors the rather standard black metal that Nocte Obducta play here. On paper, there's nothing really revolutionary about the symphonic black metal on Galgendämmerung. However, after giving this album a few listens, I realized that here lie some of the best lyrics, haunting atmospheres, and sinister riffs that I've ever encountered in black metal. A nocturnal narrator wanders through fog-shrouded forests as lost snowflakes fall to the ground: the ashes of dead winters. Enraptured by the night, he hears whispers from the earth and a cold, beating heart in the moon as the steel gates of doom yawn black in the darkness. Such eerily poetic descriptions are just a sample of the imagery that this freezing and lonely piece of music has to offer. Delivered by hateful cries, accompanied by wicked guitar riffs and mesmerizing synth-work, Galgendämmerung, like no other album I know of, perfectly depicts the bone-chilling beauty of the German language.

Buried five years deep in metal, I've tasted a lot of musical flavors in relatively little time. How far I've come is a testament to how the internet has made metal music accessible like never before, and how keeping an open mind can help you find enjoyment in a wide variety of genres.

If you had asked me two years ago what my favorite metal subgenre was, I probably would have answered with thrash metal or death metal. Now, I feel quite comfortable in the clutches of doom metal and black metal. In fact, as I'm writing these concluding words, I've already explored further. I'm currently enjoying more haunting funeral doom soundscapes and the sinister ambience of raw, unorthodox, psychedelic black metal. We’ll see how far this road will take me and what unexpected paths I'll encounter next. But, that story will have to wait for another time.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the website where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must listen, if I can,
Pursuing that metal sound with eager ears,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many styles and genres meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Written on 08.06.2024 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.


Comments: 8   Visited by: 60 users
08.06.2024 - 01:50
Thrash Talker
Once again, a great read and fun journey! Such a leap in comparison to your previous celebration. I hope the exploration never ends! I'm particularly fond of the picks in the Stoner section haha some absolute classics to be sure, same for doom.
- Headbanging with mostly clogged arteries to that stuff -
Guib's List Of Essential Albums
- Also Thrash Paradise
Thrash Here
08.06.2024 - 07:59
Roman Doez
I'll give you enough recommendations to make that avant-garde section much bigger next time around
Really fun article to read through, and it really showcases how far you've come in the two years since your first article! I'm of course particularly glad you mentioned Albino Slug and Sigh, but there are some other great picks in there from bands that really go unnoticed like Nocte Obducta. Keep listening to more music, and I can't wait to see how your tastes evolve for the next article.
08.06.2024 - 08:19
Cynic Metalhead
Paisa Vich Nasha
That's a great read, F3ynman.

You included some of the finest releases genres have to offer. I do enjoy revisiting them time and again. Good to see some releases that I've had couple of listens to, didn't reckon that impactful as I was expected.

Keep exploring more.
08.06.2024 - 12:26
That's more to my taste
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
09.06.2024 - 14:55
Tons of great picks here I can’t wait to see what you find for pt 3
2024 Favorites
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10.06.2024 - 08:55
Frasier Crane
I've been listening to metal for 21 years (25 if you count nu metal), so this list makes me feel old. Your trajectory is similar to mine where I started out with fast, riff-oriented metal like thrash, but over time became more interested in atmospheric stuff like Neurosis.
11.06.2024 - 12:34
Brutal Water
I've been into metal for about 30 years myself now and I have to admit that while I have heard of most of the bands here, I haven't bothered to check out more than a handful of them (some subgenres just aren't my thing).

The one band here that I always assumed would be right up my alley is Deathspell Omega, but their stuff just refuses to click with me.
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
20.06.2024 - 09:50
When I first listened to Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone, I only liked the main riff of “Funeralopolis” and I couldn't stand the vocals.

Boy, do I relate to this.

Fun article to read as always, man, we are expecting a third one next June. A few things that I didn't know myself, such as that Albino Slug album, which is way out there in a good way.

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