Welcome everyone to the next exhibit in the Cavalcade of Top 10 Lists; The Top 10 Saddest Doom Metal Songs. Doom Metal is already sad in context. Doom is rarely used as a positive outlook on anything outside of the successful video game franchise. The genre of metal is usually slow, brooding, filled with pain and sorrow, and can incorporate other styles into play. Death/Doom may be the most popular sub-genre, but there are other forms I’ll be covering as well including Funeral Doom, Gothic Doom, and several others.
As I’m writing this, I am battling a very dark wave of suicidal depression. It’s something I’ve been battling for nearly 22 years. 9 suicide attempts, almost every day feeling like I should no longer be above ground. I go into it other places and explaining it here isn’t really called for, BUT I am pointing it out as every song here deals with every dark themes of death, loss, depression, and more. If anything here is a trigger for your mental health, I highly implore you to come back to this when you are in a better state of mind or even skip this list entirely if it can cause anything other than catharsis for your mental state. There are so many hotlines, websites, and more that are international, national, and locally depending on where you live. If none of those is your style, please reach out to someone you trust and let them know how you are. Your life is worth keeping and you don’t want to die feeling miserable. Take it from someone battling himself; life is worth fighting for even if now it does not feel that way.
All that said, let’s get on with the rules and begin this misery-driven list.
1.) These lists are in no particular order unless otherwise noted (alphabetical order, year of release, etc). Ranking these is not needed as I wouldn’t be covering these bands, songs, albums, etc if I did not love them.
2.) The lists will be formatted with the subject, FFO (For Fans Of), and a blurb (roughly a paragraph) about said subject. The FFO section is subject to change if the list is entirely about one particular subject (the genre for example)
3.) This will be a weekly series. Every Wednesday unless otherwise stated. Delays and postponements are entirely possible, but I will be keeping this up until my mind tells me to stop.
4.) No negative lists. I know that’s cool, and the clickbaity thing to do is to make lists that people can tear apart, argue over, let me know how wrong I am for including or excluding a band, etc. That’s just not me. I may occasionally make a funny title for humor’s sake, but never to just get clicks with no substance. My integrity still means something to me even if that makes me less popular.
5.) A Spotify Playlist will always accompany each list. 1 song to accommodate every point listed so 10 songs in total, unless otherwise stated in the list(s).
6.) I will still be doing my monthly album reviews and my year-end lists per usual. This is just a bonus.
7.) All thoughts are entirely my own. No paid sponsorships, no begging or pleading from any label or band. Just me and my thoughts.
So, Let’s Begin!
*This week’s list will be presented from the shortest to the longest song. There is also no need for the FFO section this is all in one genre and its sub-genres*
Novembers Doom- I Hurt Those I Adore
Chicago’s Death Doom legends 2009 masterpiece Into Night’s Requiem Infernal was my first real taste of a full ND album. I had heard songs here and there from metal stations or metal shows that would play them, but this was the where I discovered what Death Doom truly was. That great combination of the doom metal varieties mixed with just the right amount of death metal. To me, no one does it better in America than Novembers Doom. The song, I Hurt Those I Adore, pretty much gives you all you need to know about the song. Whether you look at it like a madman who murders everyone he loves, the hurt your depression gives others who care about you and your reactions to it, or if you are in such a bad place and of the state of mind that pain is the only way to show love (if so, get help, IMMEDIATELY); the lyrics are open-ended enough to where any of those scenarios fit in the context. No matter how you look at the song, the brooding atmosphere gives you chills as you listen and you can truly hear the pain that surrounds the character Paul Kuhr is portraying in the song. Despite being the shortest song on this list, it truly feels epic enough to feel like much more time has passed. To me, that is always a good thing. ND does not get enough credit for all they have accomplished and if you’ve never checked them out before. This song is a great example of the mid-era of the band where the cleans and growls are so matched so perfectly. Give it a shot!
Draconian- It Grieves My Heart
Draconian is the textbook definition of Gothic Doom. They cover so much ground in their lyrical topics and it really hits home in the gothic and romantic writing periods of history. Their 2003 debut album, Where Lovers Mourn, is still considered to be one of the biggest highlights of the band’s career. It Grieves My Heart is a song that not only, musically makes you want to weep, but the song strongly reflects the H.P. Lovecraft short story, The Outsider; where a being breaks free from its home in an abandoned castle in search of human contact to break free from its loneliness only for...well, I’ll let the song or the short story fill you in on the details (I never want to give away everything with these lists). Let’s just say that the song really helps you feel the hurt, pain, loss, loneliness, abandonment, and fear you feel throughout the story. While about halfway through the song, it picks up a little bit in the tempo department, the song dirges its way from start to finish and will leave its remnants in your brain making you want to replay the song over and over again. If you ever feel any of the emotions this song portrays; you will feel this song emotionally hit you and it’s not an easy listen, but it can be such a cathartic one. Whether you enjoy the story of love Gothic/Death Doom, Draconian is a band you need to experience, this song is a great example as to why.
When Nothing Remains- In Silence I Conceal The Pain
This song basically describes my life before I started being open about my mental health struggles. The debut album from this Gothic/Death Doom Band, 2012’s As All Torn Asunder rips and tears apart your mental psyche. It feels like such an accurate portrayal of someone suffering from depression and other of life’s horrendous atrocities. This song, in particular, is one of the most accurate descriptions of suffering depression and keeping it to one’s self I have ever heard. The lyrics just shatter your emotions as it describes every action, every pain, every thought that occurs to one that is suffering from absolutely no outlook or way to break free. Looking back at life and being happier and now seeing what you’ve become and it hurting you mentally and physically as you strive to find a way to escape the mental hell. While not all cases of depression hurt as much as what is described here; it has for me and if it’s showcased here, you and I can’t be the only ones who have felt this way. This is such a cathartic song for me as it hits the real pain I’ve felt and it is such a reassuring feeling to know I’m not alone. Sometimes, that’s all we need to get by in this thing we call life. The band has reformed back in 2021 and I can’t wait to see what epic sorrow-filled tales will await on their next release.
Swallow The Sun- Keep Your Heart Safe From Me
Look, When it comes to Finland’s Death Doom Masters; I could have easily picked ANY song from their catalog and it would fit in this list. I could easily make a Top 10 Saddest Swallow The Sun Songs and I would still be leaving off somewhat might be their saddest material. There is no wrong answer as to what could be considered their saddest work; but I wanted to go with something off what the band has called their darkest album, 2021’s Moonflowers. Every song on the album hits you hard and if you read along with the lyrics, any song can actively make you cry. Rather than going with the normal trends, I’m showing on the list so far. I wanted to stride away from the mental health pain and go more with love that can never be. We’ve all felt it, whether we choose to admit it or not. There will always be at least one person in our lives that feels like they got away or they never loved your back or you just loved from afar and you never told them how you felt. This song captures those feelings and more with a story that feels along the lines of knowing that you are not long for this world and are about to meet your fate while pushing your love away so you may die alone. Be it you have done a betrayal or hurt your love or done anything to where you must be banished, your love still wants to be there, but you must push them away as you leave. As I’ve said, STS has no shortage of sad songs that can make you cry. The music behind this song, while a little bit misleading in the beginning with it feeling a bit fast, goes into the darkness of doom and while far from the slowest song on this list; hits you in a bit more mid-tempo (for Doom's sake, mid-tempo) and really helps the lyrics have all the emotion in the world as the atmosphere really feels like you are slowly drowning. If you remember the pain that comes with love, this song will hit you straight in the heartstrings. Just be prepared for that when you first hear this song...or really ANY Swallow The Sun song.
My Dying Bride- And My Father Left Forever
My Dying Bride is another band who has never written about sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops. ALL of their songs can destroy your emotions and they have a song tailored for every emotion. This song in particular...well...the song title gives away what the song is about. It’s about when your family, be it blood relatives, friends, other loved ones, and particularly, in this case, your father you love dearly dies in front of you and you put him back into the earth from which he came. A song about death and the grief from never being able to see, speak, touch, or do anything with them ever again. The song touches on other loved ones also being gone from your life making you last among all you loved. It hurts, a lot. There’s really no other way to describe it It’s something almost all of us experience unless we fall before other family members do. We will lose all we love. The sad reality of life is that everything is fleeting, which makes you want everything to last forever. It makes you want to cherish those moments, stories, memories, legends, etc near and dear to you and share them with those who want to hear them. In the end, that’s all we have left are memories of the past and when you lose someone who helped make those moments magical in your life, it will hurt and will always hurt. Hopefully, in time, it will hurt less and less. But those emotions you feel are real. This nearly 9 and a half minute track from the death to the burial to the memories hits you in every dark emotion. There’s no happy ending here. Just pain and misery.
Woods of Ypres- Kiss My Ashes Goodbye
This nearly 11-minute epic was originally two tracks split up, the faster, double bass driven first half and the dirge 2nd half. I love that it did become one full track as you feel both sides from before and after you die. Another sad reality of life, we are all going to die and we never know when it will happen. This song is a near 11-minute way of saying that once I die, let the memories of me move on. Death brings misery to all you leave behind and David Gold’s final epic (song over 10 minutes) on Woods final album, Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light, before his own passing just a week and a half before the album’s release (which makes this song and album even sadder) is wanting you to be able to move on from those that leave you in death. No tombstone, no urn. Just make your peace with what has happened, remember the happy memories until they fade away, and move on. I have this song in my own funeral playlist. I want to be remembered in memories, but I don’t need a headstone, I don’t need an urn, I don’t need a memorial. I just want to be loved while I’m here and be forgotten when I’m gone (unless I actually made your life better in some way). It’s one of the most haunting things you can ever battle is facing your own mortality. We are the only living organisms on earth that know they are going to die. I bring enough pain to myself and I don’t want anyone to feel pain because of me. Like the song says, “When I no longer serve you, just let those memories die and move on. When I die, kiss my ashes goodbye.”
Shape of Despair- Solitary Downfall
The newest song I have on this list and it is one of the saddest, most heartbreaking, and most depressing albums I’ve heard in recent memory. 2022’s Return to the Void, by Finland’s Death Doom Legends, Shape of Despair. The whole album showcases the different ways, but the all too familiar emotions that happen when you fall back into the black waves of depression. This pandemic that we are still living in (despite what many seem to think, yes, we are still in a pandemic); caused such a rise in mental health struggles and depression in people being in a new high for the first time in ages. Be it from loss, death, economy, health, isolation, heartache, heartbreak, or anything I’m leaving out; anything can return you to the void of depression, you can feel as though you can’t leave it once it hits you and it’s some of the most unbearable hell you can experience trying to escape it. Sadly, some never recover, and for some, it’s why they are no longer living. Solitary Downfall is that feeling of isolation, feeling alone, that all that you love is gone, that everything you care about has left you, and it leaves you feeling worse and worse until it consumes you. This is a very real thing and anyone who has never experienced it simply can’t relate. You can feel sad that someone feels this way, but once you experience it and you see anyone else feeling similar to you, it can destroy you. It’s honestly how I feel every day. My passion for almost everything in life is gone and I don’t know if it will return. I want it to, I want it to so bad. I haven’t seen anyone I consider(ed) a friend in just about 3 years. I haven’t had an in-person conversation with anyone that is not a doctor or cashing me out of a grocery store or my landlord or anything like that since August 30th, 2019. And I do often wonder if I die who would even find my body. Solitary Downfall is what happens when you let these feelings consume you. If you can sense these feelings happening, reach out while you still can. Please. None of us deserve to feel alone.
Mournful Congregation- The Catechism of Depression
Funeral Doom Metal is the darkest, scariest, and most depressing of all Doom Metal, and very few can live up to what Mournful Congregation have preached to its own congregation since their inception in 1993. On their 2011 album The Book of Kings, the 19 minutes 19 second opening track isn’t even the longest song on the album (that honor goes to the title track, clocking in at over 30 minutes), is a song, much like the name implies is an instruction guide to depression. Rather than trying to find a way to stop it, the band considers it one of man’s biggest downfalls is mental health and the lack of caring about it helps you realize the world may never see a true cure for mental health struggles as man is the reason for our mental struggles. All of that said though, in true doom metal fashion, evil may be the way to cure depression, but that’s more of a religious topic that is fit for a different discussion. This 19 minutes burial hymn is essentially that, a burial hymn that feels like you are in the midst of a funeral procession. The lyrics are minimal for a song this length, but every word is delivered with such impact while the music takes the lead and leads to feeling every emotion that you should be feeling in a song like this. It’s not pretty. It’s not optimistic. It feels like the downfall of the world that is slowly dying. 100% proceed with caution. This is one epic that leads humanity to the grave.
Triptykon- The Prolonging
Depending on your definition, this is the heaviest song on this list. A pure gothic doom metal masterpiece of an epic on the band’s debut album, that truly explores the pain depression can bring you and those around you. The more the song goes on, the more you feel the depression win the battle against you. It sinks its claw3s in you and consumes you little by little, attacking every negative emotion you can feel, every fear, every scare tactic, everything you think is real becomes real to you. What I truly appreciate about this song is that while the depression wins the battle in this story; You still feel the fight against it. You feel the anger and fight to survive from its prowess. Ultimately it is a story of not giving up despite the darkness still overtaking you. That is one of the great things about mental health struggles, as strange as that sounds; it’s not every day. Even if you suffer from it from now till you are gone, you will have better days, you may even have great breaks from its pain. Hell, you may even find a way out of the darkness and keep it under control enough to be able to live a better life. But it will not go away on its own, you have to fight and you have to keep fighting. You never know how far away or how close you are to the other side of mental health struggles unless you keep pushing forward. Don’t stop the fight!
Bell Witch- Mirror Reaper
How could I not close on what has become known as one of Doom Metal’s most infamous tracks? At nearly an hour and a half in length. Bell Witch’s 2017 album and the full-length song are in memory of their late drummer and vocalist, Adrian Guerra. An hour and 23-minute long track about death, loss, depression, what may happen after death, and those who are left to pick up the pieces. It’s Funeral Doom Metal in its truest form. It’s slow, it’s brooding, it’s a funeral dirge that lasts nearly as long as normal wake proceeds. Another thing that truly makes this stand out as there is only bass, drums, vocals, and organ on this album. Absolutely no guitar, which the band has never had in anything before or after this release. It’s pure heartache and it's completely understandable why there has yet to be a follow-up LP to this release as of yet. There have been other songs released on splits or live releases, but no true follow-up. I know it will come in time, the band is still active, but I imagine with how much tears went into this album, let alone all of the praise that has been brought to the band thanks to Mirror Reaper, they are going to take all the time they need to make a worthy successor. But until then, enjoy this masterclass of doom, grab a box of Kleenex, turn off the lights, let this play, and grieve. Grieve till your heat’s content. We all need to for one reason or another. Let Mirror Reaper be the soundtrack to your grief. It is one of the most satisfying displays of emotion that has been recorded into music. If this sounds too baffling to do in one sitting, remember, you’re still in a pandemic, you have the time. Hell, put it on in bed while you sleep. It may give nightmares, but it can be done.
And there you go folks, 10 of what I consider to be the saddest doom metal songs ever made. Songs that make Adele or Porcupine Tree sound like cheerful bops. This has been very cathartic for me to make this list and give my emotions along with it. If you are struggling yourself, I hope these songs or my words (even better...both) can be helpful in those cathartic ways and you can find a way to release those negative emotions and try to find a way to find the light in this world. So many songs in mainstream music are overtly positive and if you can’t feel those emotions that are shown off in those songs, they can affect you negatively. TO be fair that be done in any facet of life, but we are talking music here. So when finding something that matches the real emotions you may be feeling. It helps give you a cry, a much-needed cry, a much-needed cry you need to let out for a long time. Once you do, you can feel better and hopefully in time, start to feel better. Of course, Doom Metal just has killer music attached to it as well, so you can just enjoy it for its musical benefits.
Next week, I will be doing a full 180 and doing my Top 10 Most Positive Metal Songs, but until then, stay strong and if you feel weak, reach out. Reach out to me, your family, friends, loved ones, hotlines, websites, and anything that can help you. You deserve to live!
I’ll be back, Same Heavy Time, Same Debriefings Website!
- Josh Rundquist (Heavy Debriefings)