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Old-School Death-Doom: 5 Of The Greatest One-Album Wonders

Source // f1.bcbits.com

Death-doom classics from bands with a ‘one and done’ attitude.

Presented in order of release as opposed toany kind of ranking…..

Sempiternal Deathreign – The Spooky Gloom (1989) [Netherlands]

SEMPITERNAL DEATHREIGN the spooky gloom, CD for sale on  osmoseproductions.com

An obscure release, Sempiternal Deathreign‘s only album is a shockingly underrated yet vital death-doom release that demands to be rediscovered.

While leaning more towards the death than the doom, openers “Creep-O-Rama” and “Resurrection Cemetery” mimic much of the death/thrash that reared its ugly head in the late 80’s with breakneck speed and bowel-loosening growls misleadingly omitting practically all doom elements. Stick with it though and this ‘lost classic’ truly elevates itself to must-hear status with its subtle introduction of doom on the simply awe-inspiring “Devastating Empire Towards Humanity”. Its acoustic intro instantly brings to mind the likes of Candlemass before a classic doom metal riff – the kind Tony Iommi would have been proud to have penned – tuns The Spooky Gloom on its head and its pioneering death/doom intentions become clear. Interspersed with death metal speed, this epic flits between the two genres with consummate ease. 

Way, way ahead of their time, Sempiternal Deathreign may be a mere footnote in metal history but The Spooky Gloom is one album that epitomises death-doom more then most.

Winter – Into Darkness (1990) [USA]

Winter – Into Darkness (2011, White, Vinyl) - Discogs

Into Darkness is the first and only full-length album from American death-doom band Winter and it remains one of the most singularly devastating metal albums in existence.

Winter were way ahead of their time as they took everything people thought they know about doom and contorted it into something unrecognisably bleak and sinister. With the advent of death metal’s supremacy looming large, Winter simply took the sub-genres overwhelming aggression and fashioned it to doom’s cataclysmic framework.

The result was music more depressingly apocalyptic than anyone had ever heard before….and the sounds that erupted from this fearsome three-piece were akin to an oncoming nuclear winter!

Cruciform – Atavism (1993) [Australia]

Cruciform – Atavism / Paradox (2020, Blue, Vinyl) - Discogs

To those in the know, Cruciform were one of the formative Australian death metal bands in the early ’90s and with Atavism they played a major part in ushering in the age of death-doom. This could be a surprising statement to those who believe death / doom’s humble beginnings were as a result of Peaceville giving the world Paradise LostAnathema and My Dying Bride but Cruciform arrived on the scene at almost the same time as the Peaceville three….they just happened to be 9,500 miles away! Regardless of location, it’s a crime that Cruciform failed to capitalise on what should be considered a genre defining recording.

Making a relatively inauspicious start, “Prologue” sets the scene but offers precious little but “Sanctuary”, on the other hand, remains a shockingly abrasive and instantly memorable death-doom classic. Unencumbered by the use of violin, strings, keyboards and other familiar death-doom tropes, the minimalist approach served Cruciform well as they simply went about their business of wringing in misery and woe while constantly hovering perilously over the precipice of all-out death metal – the increased pace of “Reduced To Dust” and “Proboscis” showcasing Cruciform’s A-grade death metal credentials.

Decomposed – Hope Finally Died… (1993) [UK]

Decomposed - Hope Finally Died... | Références | Discogs

Possibly the most overlooked album in death-doom history – and UK metal in general – Decomposed‘s Hope Finally Died… deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those seminal releases from the Peaceville three (Paradise LostMy Dying BrideAnathema) namely GothicTurn Loose The Swans and Serenades respectively.

Deceptively simple, the beauty of this staggering release lies not in its musicality, nor its vocal prowess or  even its songwriting nous. At face value, all these facets seem relatively generic but the true reason this savagely under-appreciated cornerstone of death-doom deserves higher praise, is down to the almost unparalleled way in which Decomposed blend the mournful melancholy of doom with the caustic and cathartic blur of death metal aggression; each song unearthing a new spin on an already standard formula and expertly fusing sorrowful soliloquy’s with neck-breaking riffs.

Whether primitive old-school death metal savagery or shuffling excursions into doom metal’s swampy territory peels your onions, Decomposed‘s one and only full length should be mandatory listening. Unearth its treasures and discover why Hope Finally Died… is not only a hidden gem but should also be held in the same regard as the majority of death-doom’s so-called classics!

disEMBOWELMENT – Transcendence Into The Peripheral (1993) [Australia]

diSEMBOWELMENT – Transcendence Into The Peripheral (1993, CD) - Discogs

Australia’s disEMBOWELMENT may have released just one album but what a suffocatingly crushing death-doom masterclass that one album was!

Transcendence Into The Peripheral took the bleak slothful riffing of classic doom and immersed it in the sickly putrid filth of death metal; the combination proving difficult to swallow with its bleak and sorrowful bitter aftertaste.

“The Tree of Life and Death” remains one of the quintessential death/doom anthems; oppressive, dissonant, unnerving and back-breakingly heavy in the truest sense of the word. The clatter of “Your Prophetic Throne Of Irony” then added some truly bleak black metal into the industrialised machine – akin to the raw avant-garde nature of Beherit‘s seminal Drawing Down The Moon – adding further layers to disEmbowelment’s oppressive sound.

Predating funeral doom, Transcendence Into The Peripheral took a groundbreaking approach to extreme music, undoubtedly influenced by the experimentation of Celtic Frost – particularly on the off-kilter, female spoken word of “Nightside Of Eden” – and slowed down to a lumbering deathly crawl.

Also in this Series:

Old-School Death-Doom: 5 Of The Greatest One-Album Wonders

Old-School Death-Thrash: 5 Of The Greatest One-Album Wonders

Old-School Death Metal: 5 Of The Greatest One-Album Wonders

About Chris Jennings (1986 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

4 Comments on Old-School Death-Doom: 5 Of The Greatest One-Album Wonders

  1. SevenChurch – Bleak Insight.
    Totally mind-blowing doom dirge in the vein of first Cathedral.

  2. Graveyard Dirt- For grace or damnation. They do have a couple eps but that’s the only full length, and I wouldn’t have included winter or disembowlment both are pretty legendary.

    • Chris Jennings // December 7, 2023 at 7:18 pm // Reply

      ‘One album wonders’ because both Winter and Disembowelment only released one album bud. Their legendary status is exactly why they’re in the list!

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