(TheBRHM.com) I’m not the biggest doom metal fan. The tempo is often too slow and plodding for my liking and depending on the band, the lyrical content can be too depressing and devoid of energy.
That doesn’t take away from the musicianship or songwriting, I’m into faster, aggressive, energetic music. Of course, there are bands such as Electric Wizard, Lucifer, Acid King, Witch Mountain, and Doomsword that are staples of my rock listening.
This brings me to Black women singing doom metal. Now, there aren’t a ton of them singing doom metal. Hell, Black men aren’t even threatening a monopoly in metal, however Black women are there and the two singers we’re going to focus on are crushing it.
One singer might be familiar to ThyBlackMan readers—Kayla Dixon—but we’ll get into a brief intro of Cammie Gilbert and her singing ability as well.
Back Up…What’s Doom Metal?
In simplest terms, doom metal is a slowed down version of traditional heavy metal—Judas Priest, Iron Maiden-period metal.
While Black Sabbath created heavy metal and the guitar sound so closely associated with the genre, a sizeable chunk of their first Ozzy Osbourne era stuff is doom metal.
So, Black Sabbath presented two genres of metal during its early years and some bands went the slower doom metal direction.
The slower, deeper playing of doom metal comes adds to the music’s atmosphere with lyrics often being centered on themes of emotions, life, dreams, horror, drug use and dark literature.
Basically, if it could be made dark and possibly moody, doom can and most likely will do it. That said, not all doom metal is dark and depressing. Just any form of metal, the lyrical content can be about anything but the music itself is performed with that atmosphere and tempo in mind.
If a doom metal band wanted to make an album about kittens, pandas, and fries—or chips for our readers in the UK—a band can do that. Metal is flexible like that.
A more musically trained person could explain the intricacies of doom metal better but this is the gist. In the same way that speed metal is faster old school metal, doom is old school metal thrown in reverse at core.
Cammie Gilbert of Oceans of Slumber
Getting away from the genre lesson, we have Cammie Gilbert of Houston, Texas band Oceans of Slumber. Formed in 2011, the band plays progressive and doom metal but their album The Banished Heart was a really a mix.
More on that album in a review. Cammie Gilbert joined Oceans of Slumber in 2014 and made her debut on the Blue EP in 2015. It was her vocals on the band’s cover of Candlemass classic “Solitude” that impressed me.
With the release of the band’s sophomore release Winter in 2016, we got to hear Gilbert’s singing put to the gauntlet of an hour-long doom and prog album and she doesn’t budge.
Her singing performance doesn’t sound better on some songs than others. She’s just consistent throughout. What also rocks about her singing style is that Oceans of Slumber puts it at the forefront of the band’s sound.
Even with the 2020 self-titled album, she’s still the vocal focus despite having bass player Semir Özerkan and guitarist Alexander Lucian providing backup vocals and doing a damn good job of it.
Check out the tunes below to experience Gilbert’s singing.
Recommended Songs: “Solitude” (Candlemass cover), “Winter”, “A Return to the Earth Below”
Kayla Dixon of Witch Mountain
Dixon and Witch Mountain have been mentioned before. Hailing from Washington D.C, Kayla Dixon has a background in jazz, musical theater, ballet, musical theater, and acting. A true polymath of the creative arts.
She joined the Portland-based Witch Mountain in 2015 and made her full-length debut with the band on their 2018 self-titled album.
The sound Dixon brings to the band is similar to what Cammie Gilbert brings to Oceans of Slumber. When the music has this darker or more occult vibe or atmosphere to it, you want a certain voice or tone.
It doesn’t have to be a female singer but going back to Coven’s Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls from 1969, you had Jinx Dawson heading up a dark band and her vocals just fit the music.
Dixon has that the same kind of energy to work with WM and her background in stagecraft adds to live performances. She doesn’t come off as an overly technical performer but as one who enjoys what she’s doing and believes in her band’s talents.
Even though I discovered Dixon in Witch Mountain, the song “Remnants of Stars” stands out to me mainly because of her performance but also because it’s her plying her craft in a power metal band.
The faster, bombastic stuff will always win me over and Dixon with Helion Prime impressed the hell out of me. Her classical background was a perfect fit for the band and I’d like to see her return to the genre in the future if possible.
For now, get a load of Kayla Dixon’s singing chops with these recommended tracks.
Recommended Songs: “Remnants of Stars”, “Midnight”, “Nighthawk”
Black Women in Doom Metal
I’d love see more Black women singing doom metal or playing whatever instruments. Black women playing straight-up metal is something I can get behind. It would add something not just from a performance standpoint but there’s a lyrical benefit there.
Who are some Black women you’d love to hear perform metal? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! Drop some names and we could get into them in future article.
Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.