While not completely underground (they’ve played almost every major U.S. doomfest over the past few years), Doomstress has managed to fly under my radar until now. Formerly known as Project Armageddon, this Texas outfit had put out three albums under their previous moniker…but this is their first full-length release under the new name. In any case, if you like the sounds of Castle, but wish they were doomier, then this record is for you.
Sleep Among the Dead starts off with the up-tempo stomp of “Bitter Plea,” which reminds me of Castle in both the riffs and the vocal department. However, the slow section that first kicks in a little over a minute in offers a gloomy – albeit brief – change of pace. Around the 2:30 mark, we get a nice, crunchy, Sabbath-style riff that leads into a soaring guitar solo, after which things mellow out considerably before the final verse kicks in. “Burning Lotus” offers up more of a power-metal vibe with its steady, trad-metal chug, although they do slow things down a bit on this one, as well, with a particularly punishing doom-metal passage past the three-minute mark. “Dreaming Spider” is much more slow from the get-go. The first real riff doesn’t start until about 90-seconds in, and it’s an excellent slice of melodic doom metal, paired with eerily soothing vocals a la Jex Thoth. “Your God is Blind” offers up another solid, doomy riff, leading up to an incredibly catchy chorus. You’ll wanna raise your fist and yell along to this…
The gloom and despair continues with the Candlemass-infused “Bones and Rust” and the nearly eight-minute “Apathetic Existence,” which adopts the doomy, plodding pace of Witch Mountain at their bluesiest, or even “Black Sabbath” (the song) before building to a soaring, slow-mo chorus that allows the vocals to shine, only picking up the pace to a steady chug past the five-minute mark. This record simply gets slower and more depressing as it goes on – with the album-closing title track offering up some of the best riffs for slow-mo headbanging – which is kinda what you want from this kinda music, isn’t it?