Doomed To Fail: The Incredibly Loud History of Doom, Sludge, and Post-Metal

Rare Bird. Feb. 2020. 312p. ISBN 9781644280645. $26. MUSIC
The loaded, slow-as-molasses riffs that epitomize doom metal emerged from the industrial wasteland of postwar Birmingham, England, when Black Sabbath distorted the blues on their eponymous debut record in 1970. Writer and Drainage drummer Anselmi (Heavy: A Memoir of Wyoming, BMX, Drugs, and Heavy Fucking Music) presents a rollicking history of the extreme metal genres that appeared in Black Sabbath’s wake. Some listeners may find doom depressing; others euphoric. Anselmi, who discovered the genre as an angsty adolescent growing up in a dead-end Midwestern town with a high suicide rate, is in the latter camp, interweaving the story of doom music with that of his own salvation. He profiles heavy-hitting bands (Sleep from Silicon Valley, Earth from the Pacific Northwest, and Eyehategod from New Orleans) from major cities and regions and illustrates how the music has evolved over time to give rise to subgenres such as sludge and post-metal.
VERDICT Anselmi’s conversational tone, fervid storytelling, and passion for his subject combine for a fascinating piece of music history that the obsessive cult of metal fans will devour.
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