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Born Too Late #1: Three Doom Groups to Know

Illustration by Emily McCafferty
Illustration by Emily McCafferty

Greetings IO faithful, and welcome to the first installment of Born Too Late. Each month I’ll be highlighting quality output in the current stoner/sludge/doom arena, genres that happen to be my favorites but are also experiencing max capacity in the sheer number of bands and albums popping up daily. Hopefully this can serve as a filter to find the diamonds in the rough. Some will be new, others are seeing a physical release for the first time. Enjoy, and obey the riff.

seaweeddemonicdeathjudge

Bands as globally diverse as Dopethrone, Glorior Belli and Kongh have all discovered that one doesn’t need a Louisiana zip code to create quality sludge metal; add Finland’s Demonic Death Judge to the list. Down-tuning and heavy hitting is expected and accounted for in spades, but DDJ incorporate some impressive musical chops as well. “Seaweed” and “”Pure Cold” feature a few great solos, while “Cavity” and “Saturnday” display a true knowledge of composition, layering, and production that a lot of other sludge bands lack. And that cowbell in “Backwoods”? Undeniable. Seaweed should be a 2017 highlight for anyone into the slow Southern steel.

cities of mars celestial mistress

Suicide Records finds another winner with Cities Of Mars, a Gothenburg trio with serious affection for sci-fi and Sleep. Celestial Mistress tells the story of Nadia, a Soviet KGB agent who lands on Mars in 1971 for a covert mission but ends up discovering an ancient alien civilization. As intriguing as that is on its own, outside of the EP’s conceptual context the band delivers massive riffs and soaring (clean!) vocals (that are actually good!). More cerebral than ASG but less noodle-y than Elder, Cities of Mars manage to cram an entire concept album into three songs without sounding, well, crammed. Spaced out yet cohesive and balanced — due in no small part to the efforts of engineer/producer Esben Willems (Monolord), who also mixed and mastered – Celestial Mistress is memorable enough to hook you and replay-able enough to bring you back again.

dopelordchildrenofthehaze

The title says it all, right? When it comes to their discography, no one is parsing Dopelord’s word choice for hidden meanings (see: Black Arts, Riff Worship & Weed Cult). Lublin, Poland’s sons of Sabbath skew towards the Electric Wizard end of the doom fuzz spectrum: choice samples interspersed with alternating clean/harsh vocals while a central riff leads the way. While are there a few — OK, more than a few — moments of ‘I’ve definitely heard this before’, it doesn’t diminish the quality of the songs. The title track is a great example of Dopelord’s strengths; burly but clear singing, a strong main riff augmented as the song progresses, and a well-placed clip from ‘The Legend Of Hell House’. Let’s be honest though, you saw the name of the band and instantly decided whether you were going to love it or hate it. Either way, you’re correct.

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