Album Review: Various Artists, Women of Doom

Posted in Reviews on May 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Various Artists Women of Doom

As a genre, doom is a long way from gender parity. It’s perhaps an optimistic viewpoint to take to say that the current generation of bands is past the point of seeing women artists as a novelty or downplaying their contributions to male bandmates or counterparts, but frankly I’m not even sure that’s true on a universal level. The inherent sexualization of performance — often willfully and hilariously ignored by men watching other men on stage — subjects women artists to a masculine gaze that at times is problematic even as it also serves as an expression of feminine power. As to what it means to be a woman artist in “doom,” or as to what “doom” is — where it starts and ends — I’m no one to speak to either experience, so I look at the corporate social responsibility dissertation proposal http://www.bivteam.de/?literature-review-on-consumer-buying-behavior 6 Months essay competition online a tale of two cities essay help Women of Doom compilation, highlighting women artists in and out their respective bands, as kind of a sad celebration. It’s well worth underscoring the stylistic contributions these women are making — and in a society that saw women paid 79 cents per every dollar a man made in 2019, well worth giving women every nod they can get, if not things like universal health coverage and reproductive rights — but a bit of a bummer that we’re not in a place where the norm would make such a compilation superfluous.

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1. Nighthawk and Heavy Temple – Astral Hand 05:12
2. Amy Tung Barrysmith – Broken 06:04
3. Besvärjelsen РA Curse to be Broken 06:47
4. Mlny Parsonz – A Skeleton is Born 04:57
5. Frayle – Marrow 04:53
6. The Otolith – Bone Dust 04:31
7. Doomstress Alexis – Facade 04:47
8. Deathbell – Coldclaw 04:24
9. The Keening – A Shadow Covers Your Face 05:05
10. Mlny Parsonz – Broke An Arrow (Bonus) 03:25

Various Artists Women of Doom lp

The accomplishment of Women of Doom finding cohesion despite the variety of songwriting and performance modes is not to be understated. Beginning with Heavy Temple — here billed as Nighthawk and Heavy Temple — taking on a purely classic epic doom sound with the willfully Candlemassian “Astral Hand” sets a high bar, as grandiosity suits the Philly unit almost oddly well. They are maybe the odd-band-out in terms of aesthetic on Women of Doom, which is doubly ironic given “Astral Hand” is the most traditionally doomed song on the nine-plus-one-tracker and it’s not a style Heavy Temple generally play, but the darkened atmosphere they build sees immediate flourish in the piano-led composition “Broken” by Amy Tung Barrysmith, who only confirms through her work here that Year of the Cobra have only just begun their greater creative exploration. As one of two non-US acts present, Besv√§rjelsen are, as ever, a showcase for the vocal presence of Lea Amling Alazam, but their moodier post-doom on “A Curse to Be Broken” picks up well from “Broken” in more than just the similarity of titles.

By the time it’s a third of the way through, Women of Doom has already run a marked gamut in sound and dynamic, and that’s pretty clearly the intent of the thing. As arguably the most known performer featured, Mlny Parsonz, bassist/vocalist of Atlanta’s Royal Thunder brings a boozy classic rock powerhouse delivery to “A Skeleton is Born.” She returns for the bonus track “Broke an Arrow” in more subdued fashion to close out, and if mainstream rock and roll needed a woman figurehead — which it does, badly — she’d be a good candidate for the position in terms of craft; her work is equal parts dangerous and accessible. Frayle‘s “Marrow” carries mystique as a defining element, and The Otolith and Doomstress Alexis make a fitting pair for their use of strings. For The Otolith, that’s a trait inherited fairly enough from SubRosa, but it’s something of a surprise from Doomstress Alexis, who meets it with a likewise unexpected thrashiness in her guitar. Though maybe not as well known as some of the others,¬†Deathbell stand out in such a way as to leave little to wonder why¬†Kozmik Artifactz picked up their 2018 debut,¬†With the Beyond, for a vinyl release. Their “Coldclaw” does not come from that outing, so perhaps portends something new in the works, and if so, is all the more welcome.

As the first offering from¬†The Keening, “A Shadow Covers Your Face” is of particular interest, as was¬†The Otolith‘s “Bone Dust,” but both projects have in common a nascent feel. That’s particularly true of¬†The Keening‘s inclusion, which is a relatively minimal work of solo piano, placed in a way that answers Amy Tung Barrysmith‘s “Broken” earlier but has the distinction of being instrumental. Both works are evocative, but¬†Rebecca Vernon‘s piano in “A Shadow Covers Your Face” seems to use the otherwise unfilled space surrounding it as an instrument unto itself. That shift in presentation at the conclusion is a well placed reminder of the breadth of what greater gender equity in heavy music has to offer, though frankly, if the case needs to be made by then — or at all — you as the listener have probably missed the point. Still, at its most basic level, removed from a context that sees women continually objectified and typecast in artwork, bands, and listener expectations,¬†Women of Doom¬†is a collection of new and encouraging tracks from a diverse array of up and coming artists and acts. Even the most established artist here, which is¬†Parsonz, is reaching beyond what she’s done before, and that too is an important message that shouldn’t be ignored.

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