The Softer Hands of Doom

Doom metal is a genre of extreme metal, strongly influenced by ’70s Black Sabbath, that is characterized by slower tempos, low-tuned guitars and a “thick” or “heavy” sound. Sludge metal and stoner metal are similar genres, but, to this casual fan of extreme metal, they’re all kind of the same.

Now, let’s meet my new favorite band (of the week) …


They’re an English stoner/doom/sludge band called Black Moth. They are Harriet Bevan (vocals), Jim Swainston (guitar), Nico Carew (guitar), Dave Vachon (bass), and Dom McCready (drums). Some bands wear their influences proudly on their sleeves, but, this band, apparently, wear their influences proudly on their sleeveless t-shirts. They sound like Danzig [or, more precisely, Black Sabbath] meets Nirvana [or, more precisely, Soundgarden], with strong female vocals, as if ’70s British metal collided with ’90s Seattle grunge in present day Leeds (where this band is from) giving birth to a whole new sound. Let’s call that sound “sludge-grunge.” It’s a damn good sound!

Black Moth‘s debut album The Killing Jar (2012) is, easily, the best album I’ve downloaded so far this year! I like the idea of sludge/doom metal more than the music itself, but, I continue to try new [mostly female-fronted] bands in the genre hoping to find something that will resonate and stick with me. Well, this band resonated and stuck. The album kicks off with the grungy punk attitude of “The Articulate Dead”, followed by the much darker sludge of the ominous “Blackbirds Fall”. The apocalypse is coming and Black Moth is the harbinger of impending doom: “Blackbirds fall from the sky / Who are we to ask why?” Don’t ask why, just listen and accept the world’s fate …

This is dark shit, for sure, but, Black Moth‘s unique blend of doom, grunge and punk is pretty damn vibrant, and, so addictive! The Killing Jar trudges on with more heavy sludge-grunge anthems like “Banished But Blameless”, “Spit Out Your Teeth, and The Plague of Our Age“, all in a row; followed by another furious blast of punk attitude with “Chicken Shit”. All good, but, my favorite track is “Land of the Sky” which, driven by a chunky guitar riff and Harriet Bevan‘s melodic vocal, is the best song Soundgarden never wrote! The album closes out with the sludgy riffing and feedback noise of “Honey Lung”, a trippy doom ballad, in which Bevan wails: “Times like these weren’t meant to last anyway.” Let’s hope they do – at least for one more killer album!

Here’s a more recent promo pic of Black Moth looking appropriately doomier ..


So, how did I find this band? Well, I picked up the latest issue of Revolver magazine (#114 – Apr/May 2014), and, as with any new music publication, I first flipped through the pages looking for pics of female-fronted or all-female bands to check out. In this particular issue, I found this band [dun-dun-duuun!!]…


They’re a doom/sludge band called Mount Salem, from Chicago, IL, who “wallow in the same sludgy, doomy muck tread by Black Sabbath“, but, with the “siren-like vocals” of frontwoman Emily Kopplin. The rest of the band is Kyle Morrison (guitar), Mark Hewett (bass), and Cody Davidson (drums). I was intrigued, so, I jumped over to eMusic, listened, then, downloaded their debut album Endless (2014), which was also featured by Don Jamieson as his “Pick of the Week” on this past Saturday’s episode of That Metal Show on VH1 Classic.

Mount Salem deliver a more traditional doom/sludge sound on their debut, but, it’s highlighted by Kopplin‘s pristine vocals that soar over the band’s thick riffs and heavy backbeats. Any one of this album’s tracks could fit perfectly next to any track from Sabbath‘s Paranoid (1970) on a mix. Choice cuts include “Hysteria” with its chilling lyrics (“Things you don’t believe are true / And they’re coming straight for you”), and “The End” with Kopplin‘s spooky organ and its despairing lyrics (“This will be the end of everything”). However, despite Kopplin‘s lovely vocals, my favorite track on Endless is the instrumental “Mescaline” which, with chords that recall Nancy Sinatra‘s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”, sounds like a spaghetti western theme, doom style. “Mescaline II” takes that theme and makes it sludgy, thicker and doomier. Watch them perform “Hysteria” live here:

Mount Salem was my favorite band (of the week) for a few hours, but, I needed something more. So, like always, I started following the links in eMusic under “Recommended Albums”, and, I stumbled upon Black Moth who became my new favorite band (of the week). I also found this band [dun-dun-duuun!!] …


They’re a doomy stoner rock band called Ruby the Hatchet, from Philadelphia, PA, who sound like Black Sabbath meets Led Zeppelin. They are Jillian Taylor (vocals), John Scarperia (guitar), Michael Parise (bass), and Owen Stewart (drums, vocals), with Sean Hur (organ). “Taking Sides” and “Black Tongue” are my favorite rockers , from their debut album Ouroboros (2012), while “Holy Father” is an awesome trippy ballad; and, “Eliminator”, from The Eliminator EP (2014), is an epic of fuzzy psychedelia. Watch the video for “Black Tongue” here:

Three cool new bands, for sure, but now, I’m all doomed out for the week.


3 thoughts on “The Softer Hands of Doom

  1. I’ve just stumbled upon this site while searching for Ruby the Hatchet. Sorry for responding to a months old post, but I’d like to share something.

    Lately I’ve been exploring the same genre of doom/sludge/stoner metal/rock. While I don’t mind heavy guitars, growling vocals is something that really throws me off, so I’ve focuses my interest just as you on female led bands.

    Be sure to check out Royal Thunder. There led singer Mlny Parsons has a powerful voice and she sings with great passions. Next up is The Wytches, although they are all guys, I’m touched by how every one of there songs sounds like the Nirvana’s Love Buzz.

    There seems to be a lot of small, newly formed bands inspired by Sabbath or Led Zeppelin playing gigs in there local venues. I’m happy to see this type of music is still alive, because for a long time now I’ve been convinced that rock is dead, buried under the ever growing influx of electronics.

  2. Pingback: Black Moth « Girls, Guns & Zombies!

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