Funeral Doom Metal Bands: A Deep Dive into the Abyss of Metal Music

by Patria

Metal music, with its diverse subgenres, has always been a realm of sonic exploration and boundary-pushing creativity. Within this vast musical landscape, funeral doom metal stands out as a subgenre that dares to venture into the darkest and most mournful corners of human emotion. In this article, we will embark on a journey through the world of funeral doom metal bands, exploring their origins, distinctive characteristics, and the enduring impact they’ve had on the broader metal music scene.

The Birth of Funeral Doom: Forging a Path in Metal Music

Metal music has a long history of evolution, with subgenres emerging and evolving over time. Funeral doom, a subgenre characterized by its slow tempos, crushing heaviness, and a focus on themes of death and despair, was born in the early 1990s. It was a response to the faster and more aggressive styles of metal that dominated the scene during that era.

The roots of funeral doom can be traced back to traditional doom metal bands like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, which laid the foundation for the genre’s slow and melancholic sound. However, funeral doom took things a step further, pushing the boundaries of slowness and melancholy to create an even more immersive and haunting experience within the realm of metal music.

The Funeral Doom Aesthetic: Slow, Heavy, and Unrelenting

At the heart of funeral doom metal music lies its signature aesthetic – a marriage of glacially slow tempos, distorted guitar riffs, and guttural vocals. These elements work together to create an atmosphere of immense sorrow and despair, drawing the listener into a sonic abyss.

One of the defining features of funeral doom is its use of extremely low and downtuned guitar tones. This choice results in a sense of immense heaviness, a characteristic that is shared with other subgenres of metal music, but taken to an extreme in funeral doom. The slow and deliberate pace of funeral doom compositions allows these heavy tones to resonate and reverberate, enveloping the listener in a suffocating sonic embrace.

Pioneering Funeral Doom Bands: Shaping the Sound of Metal Music

As funeral doom began to take shape as a distinct subgenre within metal music, several pioneering bands emerged to define its sound and aesthetics. These bands not only contributed to the development of funeral doom but also left an indelible mark on the broader metal music landscape.

1. Thergothon: The Funeral Doom Trailblazers

Thergothon, hailing from Finland, is often credited as one of the earliest funeral doom bands. Their 1991 demo “Fhtagn nagh Yog-Sothoth” and the subsequent album “Stream from the Heavens” (1994) laid the groundwork for what funeral doom could be. Thergothon’s use of slow, mournful melodies and deep growling vocals set a standard for the genre and influenced countless metal bands that followed.

2. Skepticism: The Funeral Doom Architects

Skepticism, also from Finland, further refined the funeral doom sound with their debut album “Stormcrowfleet” in 1995. Their incorporation of atmospheric elements, such as keyboard textures and funeral dirges, added a new dimension to funeral doom music. Skepticism’s unique blend of heaviness and atmosphere demonstrated the genre’s capacity to evoke profound emotional responses, pushing the boundaries of what metal music could achieve.

3. Evoken: Shaping Funeral Doom on American Soil

While funeral doom had its roots in Europe, it also found a dedicated following in the United States. New Jersey’s Evoken, formed in the mid-’90s, is a prominent American funeral doom band that contributed significantly to the genre’s development. Their album “Embrace the Emptiness” (1998) is a hallmark of funeral doom, with its colossal riffs and mournful melodies showcasing the American perspective within the global metal music scene.

Divergence and Substyles: Exploring the Vastness of Funeral Doom Metal

Like all subgenres of metal music, funeral doom has not remained static over the years. It has branched out into various substyles, each with its own unique characteristics and interpretations of the funeral doom aesthetic. Let’s explore some of these substyles and the bands that have embraced them.

1. Atmospheric Funeral Doom: A Journey into the Unknown

Within the realm of funeral doom, atmospheric funeral doom has emerged as a substyle that places a heavy emphasis on creating immersive and otherworldly atmospheres. Bands like Esoteric and Shape of Despair are notable for their use of ambient elements, ethereal melodies, and extended song structures that draw listeners deeper into the abyss of metal music.

2. Funeral Death Doom: A Fusion of Darkness

Funeral death doom, as the name suggests, combines elements of death metal with funeral doom’s trademark heaviness and sorrow. Bands like My Dying Bride and Novembers Doom have successfully blended growling death metal vocals with funeral doom’s slow, crushing instrumentation, resulting in a potent fusion of two distinct yet complementary facets of metal music.

3. Blackened Funeral Doom: Embracing Darkness from All Angles

Blackened funeral doom takes the bleakness of funeral doom and adds a dose of black metal’s raw aggression and icy atmospheres. Bands such as Bell Witch and Abyssal explore the boundaries between these two subgenres, creating a haunting and tumultuous listening experience that transcends the conventions of traditional metal music.

The Influence of Funeral Doom: A Ripple in the Metal Music Pond

While funeral doom remains a niche subgenre within metal music, its influence has rippled through the broader metal community, shaping the evolution of other subgenres and pushing the boundaries of creativity. Bands across the metal spectrum have drawn inspiration from funeral doom’s willingness to embrace the darkest corners of human emotion.

1. Doom and Gloom: Funeral Doom’s Impact on Doom Metal

Doom metal, which predates funeral doom, has also been influenced by its mournful cousin. Bands like Ahab and Pallbearer have incorporated funeral doom’s slow tempos and emotional depth into their music, expanding the sonic palette of traditional doom metal and offering listeners a more introspective journey through the world of metal music.

2. Atmospheric Black Metal: Borrowing from the Abyss

The influence of funeral doom can also be heard in atmospheric black metal, a subgenre that shares a penchant for creating immersive soundscapes. Bands like Wolves in the Throne Room and Alcest have adopted funeral doom’s atmospheric elements, infusing their black metal compositions with a sense of melancholy and grandeur that enriches the metal music experience.

3. Expanding Horizons: Funeral Doom’s Impact Beyond Metal

Funeral doom’s influence extends beyond the boundaries of metal music. Experimental and avant-garde artists have been drawn to the genre’s willingness to explore the depths of human emotion. This cross-pollination has resulted in unique musical expressions that defy traditional categorization, blurring the lines between metal music and other genres.


In a genre as diverse and expansive as metal music, funeral doom stands as a testament to the genre’s capacity for emotional expression and innovation. Its slow, heavy, and mournful sound has left an indelible mark on the metal music landscape, influencing a wide range of subgenres and artists who continue to explore the depths of human experience through music.

As we conclude our journey through the world of funeral doom metal bands, it’s clear that this subgenre’s impact on metal music is profound and enduring. From its humble beginnings with Thergothon and Skepticism to its branching into substyles like atmospheric funeral doom and blackened funeral doom, funeral doom has shown that the exploration of darkness and despair can yield some of the most powerful and emotionally resonant music in the world of metal.

So, the next time you find yourself immersed in the slow, crushing soundscapes of funeral doom, remember that you are delving into a subgenre that has redefined the boundaries of metal music, proving that even in the darkest corners, there is beauty to be found in the power of sound. Funeral doom’s legacy is one that continues to evolve, inspiring new generations of musicians and fans to embrace the complexity and depth of metal music in all its forms.

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