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Death Doom

CVLT Nation’s Top 10 DOOM Records of 2023

#10 ANARETA Fear Not

There are plenty of demons to inspire the bleakest of musical creations, and Nola’s ANARETA taps into the depths of human greed and depravity. This blackened-orchestral doom epic describes the voracious, soulless sucking of parasitic corporate desire on the lifeblood of our planet. We have triumphed in our power to kill everything around us for profit, and we’ve built an entire system of planetary genocide to support it. Their track “Black Snake” is powerfully melodic and devastatingly heavy in both its sound and message, and shows us just how deep our disconnection from self and symbiosis has gotten. Right now, channel your impending sense of doom into a will to change the system that chooses poison over person.

#9 FELSENMIRROR FELSENMIRROR

When we got the word a new group had been assembled out of the ashes of some serious past hitters, we knew the result would be just as thick with fury and power as their previous outfits. Portland, Oregon’s new all-star team in the atmospheric metal arena is FELSENMIRROR, uniting crushers from the likes of AugursUsnea, and Atriarch just to name a few. Just when you thought the PNW extreme metal scene was in a recession, the torch bearers make a prodigal return with plenty of genuine novel sonic territory to explore and exploit.

The album is one continuous block, a concept encapsulating the stages of grief, only to once again wind up at the last stage of acceptance and all it has to offer. The passages ebb and flow with the aid of violin with as exactly as much anticipation for the next shattering riff sequence thoroughly wiping the slate clean before reminding us of the annihilating pain that can all but extinguish us on this side of the grass.

#8 MEGATON LEVIATHAN Magick Helmet

MEGATON LEVIATHAN always brings us something special. In all the years we’ve covered this band, they never fail to push the boundaries further than they’ve done before. Today we’re lucky to be sharing their new record Magick Helmet in full, and it’s a wild and raw Psychedelic Doomgaze trip! This is music for those who want to go on a sonic journey, one that dives into the inner workings of our minds and weaves the threads of past and future into the present. There are elements of garage rock, noise, psych, and pop on this record, and every track is wrapped in heavy layers of feedback. I’m going to need to eat some fungi, put on Magick Helmet, and see where my mind takes me as I digest these sounds! 

#7 MIZMOR Prosaic

Mizmor returns with their fourth full-length, Prosaic, another platter full of Doom and Black, crusted with some Drone and Atmosphere. Creator  A.L.N. has always worn his heart on his sleeve, revealing depth and struggle, darkness and defiance, curiosity and seeking, and he continues the tradition here. Gone are the battles over religion. Here he seems to be embracing a life beyond apostasy, what this new kind of existence could bring, both the (gasp!) joys and pitfalls of a life without religion hanging over your existence.

“Only an Expanse” opens the album, fourteen-plus minutes of shifting Doom and Black Metal, it resembles waves crashing on an ocean beach. The water is cold, sometimes it stings, other times it gently washes over your feet, as you stare out in the vastness of the sea. There’s a contemplative nature to this song, a notion of longing and searching that’s hard to put a finger on, but you can feel it in your bones. A new journey calls, a new experience awaits, a new country ready to be discovered, out there, beyond the heaving seas. The caustic, acoustic fade-out of the last minute of the song really drives home this aura of loneliness up against the vast weight of the oceans of existence.

#6 USNEA Bathed In Light

If you’ve been a long-time reader of CVLT Nation, you already know USNEA has a special place in our hearts. They bring an ethereal and emotive quality to their unbelievably heavy doom that almost seems impossible. Bathed In Light takes that soul-raising hallmark to another level, both with their soaring, just out of reach highs, and their plunging, despairing lows. It’s like they’re able to take my complicated feelings about eternal death and eternal life and mould them into an intricate sonic tapestry. If you want to experience some of the best and most enigmatic sounds doom has to offer, you need to hear USNEA’s new record Bathed In Light. Read the interview we did with them here.

#5 FVNERALS Let the Earth Be Silent

If I could hear the Earth move, the rocks moan, the trees scream, the dirt sing, the grasses howl, I think I would hear something akin to FVNERALS’ new record Let the Earth Be Silent. The Earth is silent for humanity because we can’t hear it and we’re blind to its majesty. The slow, crushing sounds that FVNERALS explore on this record are like a history lesson on our egos, reading us our funeral rites as we steadily march toward our destruction—not the destruction of the planet. Their ambient doomgaze feels like it’s pulling me into the depths of Earth’s womb, the vocals sending their magick swirling around me so I remember that when this life fails I’ll be back to try again to remember how to live.

#4 BELL WITCH Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate

I actually want to thank BELL WITCH for creating such a cathartic record. I’m able to weave my inner pain in between the slow-moving beauty of “The Clandestine Gate.” Over the course of more than an hour, BELL WITCH shows the world why they are like no other Funeral Doom band on the planet. This piece of music gives the listener space to find their own meaning within their tapestry of Doom! BELL WITCH has always manifested sonic magic, and this record only proves that more than ever!

#3 RAGANA Desolation’s Flower

Musically, Ragana can not and should not be confined to one genre! With all of their songs, several audio universes co-exist to create a sonic solar system that is vast and never-ending. Straight up, I love all the heavy parts of the album but its fragile powerful songs such as “DTA” make me say, WOW, this band is beyond awesome!!! This song slaps just as hard as Cat Power’s Moon Pix. The juxtaposition between the vocal delivery of music and lyrics is sublime!

I want the band to know that “Desolation’s Flower” will take root in my real life with each listen. In a world where everything is upside down and ass-backward. This band has created a heavy LP that is free of fantasy which is why it resonates with me so much! Before I let y’all go, their song “Pain” should be played at least 5 times a day to alleviate all eternal pain! This song is a straight jam, and I rank it up there like my favorite Pinback or Red Star Theory song!

#2 HELLISH FORM Deathless

Low, Slow, and Sorrowful are 3 words that come to mind as I listen to HELLISH FORM‘s Deathless. Over the course of 48 minutes, this band lays out some seriously mournful that I can’t stop enjoying. Honestly, it’s the beautiful sounds of anguish and agony that keep me so enthralled with every song! This band knows how to create the heavy but glorious pits of despair that I want to dive into! I feel the best way to experience this album is as a whole because of the energy it conveys. The title track is a 12-minute sonic ocean filled with immense riffs that will suffocate you into a state of joy. 

#1 DIVIDE & DISSOLVE Systemic

There’s not much more that can be said about DIVIDE & DISSOLVE’s Systemic, because it’s one of the most talked about Doom records of 2023. These two awesome people are able to weave sound in a way that harnesses and projects their powerful stories without words. Instead, we’re encouraged to feel the histories they braid into sonic form, to discover the wisdom in our souls, and to recognize how so many of us have forgotten it. Systemic is emblematic of how DIVIDE & DISSOLVE is meant to be heard—from a place of power, discomfort, despair, and joy all at once. It’s a record of rallying cries and remembrance of indigenous liberation and celebration, and one of somber recognition of the catastrophic consequences of centuries of colonialism. DIVIDE & DISSOLVE are going to continue to challenge the system through their music, examining reality through the lens of doom. In our eyes, Systemic is yet another of their records that’s solidified their place as GOATs of the genre.

The heaviness is really important. It’s congruent with the message of the music, and the heaviness feels emblematic of this world’s situation. This music is an acknowledgement of the dispossession that occurs due to colonial violence. The goal of the colonial project is to separate Indigenous people from their culture, their life force, their community and their traditions. The album is in direct opposition to this.

Takiaya Reed, saxophonist / guitarist
Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

“IRON
Sentient 51423

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