Passion Doom Is My New Favorite Subgenre
It’s also a subgenre I just made up.
Melody and hooks have always appealed to me the most when it comes to music. Though the genres may change and shift, it’s those dulcet tones, those little flourishes of beauty, that reach out and stay with me long after the song has finished. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good neck-breaking, skull-smashing song like any other metal fan, but, for me at least, they tend to go in one ear and out the other. For a few minutes, I can enjoy it, but once it’s over, it is gone forever. Part of it is preference and, as much as I hate to admit it, probably age as well. The riff doesn’t hold as much power when it feels like every other band can play just as fast or as technical. I appreciate the skill and acknowledge the ability, but it does not stay with me.
I want the heavy, but I need the pretty. I also need the substance to back it up. Melodic death metal and doom metal occasionally have those qualities, and can sometimes intermingle, but not always. Through my searching and natural progression, I have started to pull together what I think is a new and growing metal subgenre.
Passion Doom, as I’ve come to refer it as, takes the general tenets of doom and post-metal and gives it a more intimate and heartfelt spin. Bands like Swallow The Sun and Katatonia can be seen as the forefathers of Passion Doom as their sounds and soul serve as building blocks for this budding genre. The music contains the same crushing sensibilities, but maintains a soul-grabbing mellifluousness. Interchanging the typical doom heaviness with quieter, introspective moments, specific focus in Passion Doom bands is given to the vocals. Clean and melodic, the vocals serve as another instrument, carrying the weight of the lyrical content and leading the listener on an emotional journey. As a whole, the music is sincere, heartfelt, and, at times, gut-wrenching.
Here are some bands that I feel are building up my new favorite subgenre.
Oceans Of Slumber
Oceans Of Slumber is my prime example of what Passion Doom is all about. The Houston, TX band deftly blend the heavy with the beautiful. Their album The Banished Heart was one of my favorites from 2018. There’s just something incredibly special about Cammie Gilbert’s vocals that reaches out to the listener, grabs their heart, and tenderly holds it as beats fade away. The band has their very heavy moments as well, but no instrument overpowers the other. Everything works in tandem to create something genuinely “metal” and genuinely emotional. With a new album out on September 4th, 2020 via Century Media, expect more amazing songs from the leaders of Passion Doom.
What more can be said about Pallbearer that hasn’t already been said? Most readers are already familiar with the Little Rock, Arkansas foursome. Immensely talented with a keen ear for crafting songs that can be as catchy as they are dramatic, each song is a trip through the heart and into the soul. Though they are more straightforward than other bands in this article, Pallbearer still fits into this still-forming subgenre with the sense of hooks and moving vocals.
Hailing from Greece, Nochnoy Dozor (translated to Night Watch) up the passion with a dual vocal approach that is as alluring as it is agonizing. The band brings a dark layer of music beneath the vocals that sets an almost warm tone as the lyrics tear your soul into shreds. The mixture of ambiance and driving guitars and drums combined with the harmonizing vocals creates a swirl of emotion, taking us from depressive lows to hopeful highs. It’s this soul that earns the band a place in Passion Doom.
Though they label themselves as sludge rock, Paris, France’s Hangman’s Chair certainly fit the Passion Doom mold. Undeniably heavy, fiery vocals glide across the doomy, fuzzy guitars, weaving in and out to create something truly heartfelt. It’s enough to make you headbang while actually feeling something inside. Just pretend it’s sweat running down your cheeks and you should be fine. Though a bit closer to more traditional sludge or stoner, the steady, low end and the fervid vocals elevate the band into the world of Passion Doom.
Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain brings it low and slow, like a doom metal smoker. The sexy, smoky vocals (Uta Plotkin from 1997 – 2014 and Kayla Dixon since) cover and envelop the listener in a swirling cloud of euphony. The band contains the occult rock vibes similar to Sabbath Assembly and Occultation, but with a touch more focus on clean vocals and outright emotion. Perfect for the coven on Walpurgis Night or just needing a little motivation to conquer a difficult task, the band’s tunes firmly scream Passion Doom.
The masked and anonymous Sleep Token really put the “passion” in Passion Doom. The emphasis on expressive vocals from this London group could easily fit into any mainstream television show or movie. Bits of doom, rock, and prog form the firm base from which the lyrics and voices can reach heights that average bands can only dream of. I honestly don’t know much about the band and the mysterious nature only helps enhance the intrigue of the music. It also makes them a little scary.
Italy’s Messa rounds out the initial “starting lineup” of Passion Doom. The band has the standard doom sound, but much like Witch Mountain, the vocals take everything else to a new, wondrous place. I like their usage of keys as well, helping further separate the band from the pack. A little ambient, a little rock, a little prog, and a little blues combine for a heavy tempest churning with forceful, chaotic life and feelings.
What do you think? Am I onto something? Is Passion Doom something you can get into? Is it worthy of becoming an actual subgenre? I’m really into it and want to hear more. What other bands should be included? Should any of these bands be excluded? Sound off in the comments.