You may notice that we are no longer following a strictly linear chronology. By the early 90′s, metal was developing along several distinct lines, just as jazz had begun to do in the early 60′s.
Two lines of development are similar enough that their artists are often described as one or the other. The first I’d like to present is doom metal.
Doom metal can be traced to none other than Black Sabbath, whose albums Master of Reality and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath featured a number of dark, plodding tracks, including “Who Are You,” “Sweet Leaf,” and “Into the Void.” The detuned, down-tempo “downer rock,” as described by Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, is echoed quite strongly in the reefer-inspired music of groups like Electric Wizard, EyeHateGod, and Madison’s own Bongzilla.
The classic doom sound arose in the 1980′s, and was pioneered by groups like Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, and Candlemass:
By the 1990′s, we were introduced to a less gothic, more rock ‘n roll variant on doom, as evidenced in the songs of groups like Crowbar. This brings us one step closer to a concurrent trend in metal — that of sludge.
Sludge metal, so-named because of its origins near the Mississippi delta, is not as tightly executed as other styles, giving it a resemblance to grunge, which seemed to rule the 90′s hard rock world. While Seattle-based artists Nirvana and Soundgarden infused the Sabbath sound with indie-pop and punk, their sludge counterparts kept things nice and heavy.
One sludge group that did not come out of the south, The Melvins, were among the most influential. From their formation in the 1980′s to today, they have consistently produced some of the finest hard rock I have heard, and I recommend their Houdini album whenever I have the chance.