Tuesday 11 October 2016

"Because 11 is one louder": Jonathan "Sealey" Seale (Bassist for Iron Void) chooses his Top 5 Trad doom albums

Iron Void are the UK's leading exponents of traditional doom: doom with singing, doom with riffs, doom with... songs?! Their lineage is not hard to trace: try Sabbath as a starting point. Having put out a stellar EP and two full length albums, Iron Void are preparing to play The Asylum 2 in Birmingham on Saturday 15th October as a celebration for the vinyl release of album number two: “Doomsday”, which is out now on Fear Me! Music.

Today as part of a two part article with Iron Void, bassist, Jonathan “Sealey” Seale chooses his top five albums from their band's chosen genre. Read on for a trip into the arcane and mysterious world of doom...and expect part II featuring guitarist Steve Wilson in the coming weeks ahead. In the meantime, turn the dial all the way to 11, “Because 11 is one louder

1.       Black Sabbath – ‘Master of Reality’ (1971)

Masters of the art! I had to mention Sabbath, it goes without saying doesn’t it? They invented not only Heavy Metal but Doom Metal too. The self-titled song, ‘Black Sabbath’ from their debut is THE Doom Metal blueprint; thunder and rain, heavy riffs, softer passages and the up-tempo build-up in the middle which concludes the song. A classic formula, repeated many times since by a lot of bands, ourselves included! It’s so difficult to pick a favourite Sabbath album as I love all eras of the band. The Ozzy and Dio eras are definitely my favourites though. If I had to pick one album, it would be this one. It’s definitely the heaviest Sabbath record in my opinion and also the most ‘stoned’ sounding one if you catch my drift?  They tuned down for the first time on this record (the first 2 were in Standard tuning) which made for a darker atmosphere and I love the contrast of the acoustic tracks, ‘Embryo’ and ‘Orchid’ with heavier numbers such as ‘Lord of This World’ and ‘Into The Void’, the dynamics work perfectly.  

2.       Saint Vitus – ‘Born Too Late’ (1986)

        Sabbath invented Doom in the 70’s, but it was the bands who followed in their wake such as Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Trouble who defined Doom Metal as a genre in the 80’s. Again, it’s very hard to pick one particular album from a band I love so much but this is as classic as it gets. Stand out songs for me are ‘Dying Inside’, which is a stark warning about the dangers of alcoholism and the title track, a Doom anthem with lyrics every Doom fan can relate to. I also love the Scott Reagers fronted Vitus and the Lord Chritus era too but Wino is one of my all-time favourite singers and guitarists so this album is as perfect as it gets for me. If I had more choices I would also probably have included an album from The Obsessed in this list, maybe ‘The Church Within"

3.       Pentagram – ‘Relentless’ (1985)

        Another stone-cold classic and the first record I heard by them. This album is just killer from start to finish. Victor Griffin’s guitar tone sounds like a buzz saw (in a good way!), Bobby is genuinely sinister in his vocal delivery and Joe Hasselvander pounds the hell out of the drum kit throughout while Martin Swaney holds down the low end. So many classic songs too! There’s no filler on this album at all, every song just slays. You’ve got to love the cow-bell in the middle of ‘Sinister’ too! A close second choice to this album would be ‘Be Forewarned’ (1994) but I adore everything they have released. It was a real honour and pleasure to play with them at Day of Doom Barcelona in 2015, a dream come true.

4.       Trouble – ‘Trouble’ (1990)

        Most True Doom heads would probably pick ‘Psalm 9’ or ‘The Skull’ over this but I got into Trouble via ‘Manic Frustration’ in the early 90’s then worked my way backwards. I just really like the vibe of this album. The lyrics, riffs and solos are exceptional. Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell are one of the best twin guitar teams in the business. I’ve seen them live several times with different line-ups and they don’t miss a note, they’re so tight! It’s cool nowadays that we have both Trouble with Kyle Thomas on vocals and The Skull but I do sometimes wish this line-up (minus Barry Stern, R.I.P.) would get back together for a few shows, that would be ace!

5.       Sleep – ‘Sleep’s Holy Mountain’ (1992)

        Some would argue that Sleep aren’t really ‘Trad Doom’. Although they kick started the whole ‘Stoner Doom’ genre I still consider this to be a trad Doom album, heavily influenced by Sabbath’s early albums and copious amounts of weed! Most Sleep fans bang on about ‘Jerusalem (AKA ‘Dopesmoker’) as the best record but I disagree. ‘Jerusalem has its charms but ‘Sleep’s Holy Mountain is where it’s at! When I first heard it I thought it was so heavy, the bass is just off the scale! This was one of the first Doom albums I ever heard and I still listen to it regularly now. I would also highly recommend their debut, ‘Volume One’.

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