Ask a proud American to identify the EoB and they’ll gaze, either wistfully or with revolution in mind, toward a grand old building not far from Pennsylvania Avenue. 2018, however, has given birth to another EoB – the Evolution of Boom, a kind of cultural reworking of the Low-End chords which brought all manner of sounds into the realm of enjoyment for the average music listener.
Whether it be the Psych-Blues of Boss Keloid’s Melted on the Inch (Holy Roar Records), which is one of the most important platters of the year and my personal album of the decade; Spaceslug’s phenomenal Eye The Tide (BSFD Records), which incorporates all manner of extreme styles into its slow trammel; the artful savagery of East Lancashire hybrid Bodies on Everest, a dark and Sludged take on the Velvet Underground; or Dirge and Raum Kingdom, whose albums saw a tense Post Metal infect the Gallic and Gaelic passion of their crushing power: Doom has seen its template embrace other genres more than ever, not least with the fathomless cello of Jessica Moss’ wonderful classical composition Entanglement (CST Records).
Traditional Doom has, once more, seen some hugely impressive issues: Holy Grove’s tuneful eighties Rock was given a huge boost by a hulking rhythm section and one of the vocal performances of the year from Andrea Vidal; the appearance of High Priestess has seen a seductive Torch style added to a wondrous, smoky devilry that, in ‘Despise’, has seen one of the tracks of the year; while Druid, Weedpecker and Yawning Man, three of Stoner’s leading lights, have produced albums that blend summery melodies with huge yet catchy rhythms that have contributed to the soundtrack of the heatwave of 2018. While in the Karnivool-like Haken, the Asian-tinged BAK and the traditional flavour of Superfjord, the heavier elements of Prog have been infused with varying and delectable tastes.
The melancholy edge is provided by the gorgeous Alt-Country paeans of Emma Ruth Rundle, whose partner Evan Patterson inconceivably missed my Top 20 despite an 8.5 review for his Nick Cave-esque Jaye Jayle album. Rundle’s shuddering beauty is offset by newcomers Leonov and their winsome, Folk-tinged Post Metal: a crashing squall giving a salt-and-pepper suitability to Tåran Reindal’s ethereal larynx. The more hostile face, meanwhile, is fed through a prism by the laconic Rap-Punk of Daughters, the imaginative Death-Doom of Rivers of Nihil, perennial passion-pleasers Primordial and the crushing putrefaction of Leeds’ Hundred Year Old Man.
It’s meant that this scribe’s love and devotion to the UK Doom underground has taken a little backseat this year, with only a quarter of this list emerging from that crowd and even King Goat’s remarkable sophomore effort Debt of Aeons (Aural Music) just missing the cut. It’s enabled a broader sweep of the brush, a chance to indulge in other musical loves while retaining elements of those monolithic sounds. The lute-produced Drone of Jozef van Wissem, the Electro-Drone of The Mon and the claustrophobic mantras of Shibalba are further proof of inventive, resonant alter-egos that somehow missed the list. If more conventional acts begin to infuse heavier aspects in this fashion it will only serve to affirm the fact that the music Ghost Cult covers isn’t merely for Rock and Metal lovers, but for those whose dark, emotional secrets identify with myriad forms. Say hello to 2019, good people, and pull up a chair: you’re all welcome.