More than a subgenre or a tempo measure, doom is an aesthetic, an atmosphere, a cathartically soul-wrenching expression of melancholy that encompasses much of the best metal released in 2012, from the quintessential despondence of Pallbearer to the gloomy rock of gothic doom founders Paradise Lost (pictured above).
Doom is also a sound increasingly dominated by women whose work drives incredible albums and live performances ranging from the spooky nostalgia of bands like Ides of Gemini to the noise-doom of female duos like Taurus and Canadians Mares of Thrace ― the latter landing on the Polaris Music Prize long list for The Pilgrimage. The bluesy occult doom of female-fronted bands like Witch Mountain even caught the appreciative attention of Spin, while other doom-laden bands (Pilgrim, Samothrace, Anhedonist) have earned favourable coverage from publications picky about their metal when they're not outright ignoring it.
Among the newer crop of woe-mongers rising through the murk, doom pioneers like Candlemass continue to feed the genre's vital life blood. Last year gave us the triumphant return of Bobby Liebling and Pentagram (along with Don Argott and Demian Fenton's documentary Last Days Here). This year gave us the return of St. Vitus with a new album, tour and a climactic appearance at Maryland Deathfest X. What better soundtrack could we ask for in the year when the world is expected to end?
Best doom of 2012:
Pallbearer Sorrow and Extinction (Profound Lore)
My Dying Bride A Map of All Our Failures (Peaceville)
Daylight Dies A Frail Becoming (Candlelight)
Evoken Atra Mors (Profound Lore)
11th Hour Lacrima Mortis (Napalm)