Proto-Doom Metal -
Where Metal Began and Its Earliest Influences
Most people think that all early metal is Doom Metal. Certainly, most Doom bands claim Black Sabbath as their first influence. And most Doom bands sound like Black Sabbath in some sort of amalgamation or appropriation. Usually their music is slower than most other types of metal, like Thrash or Death metal. There is, however, a slight distinction between what is now considered Doom and the early bands (like Sabbath) that informed and inspired it. In fact, Doom Metal and early metal could be considered genetic chimeras (two very different things in one body) born of the same mother.
Early Doom influences can be described more easily by their sound than later, authentic Doom bands. Listeners often know instantly the sound of Doom by the slowness and heaviness of the music. In it’s simplest description, Doom “emanates a dark and brooding atmosphere that cannot be found with such intensity in any other genre” (Doom-metal.com). Certainly, Black Sabbath fits that bill, as well as other bands from the 70s (like Pentagram, Deep Purple, and
It is in the 80s that Doom could no longer be just described as slow and heavy. The pioneers in 80s Doom (Trouble, St. Vitus, Candlemass, etc) were too diverse to be relegated to that description; and because of this diversity, several sub-genre labels emerged. Doom-metal.com claims that there are no less than thirteen sub-genres today, all of which are the bastard sons of Doom and other metal genres. These sub-genres are products of musicians wanting to add something different and relevant to the musical landscape. No one wants to be just like their idols – they want to be better. But what of these earlier pre-Doom influences? Some say that all early heavy rock music can be put into the proto-Doom category, including bands like Iron Butterfly. If this is the case, then certainly the bands
The songs on
But why are fans continuously looking back to the originators of Doom instead of exploring the newest versions? The reason is that Doom, in its purest form, has the same type of appeal as other true genres, like blues. There’s just something about this first form of metal that still appeals to listeners who prefer their music heavy and hard. Proof of this is not only
Another reason for the continued interest in original Doom bands is explained by Ian Christe in his book, Sound of the Beast, The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, that the interest was kept alive by the “bands whose emotional qualities more than made up for their lack of flash” (349).  It wasn’t just the lack of speed or flashy outfits that made these bands different. It was the “heavy heart” of the music itself that contributed to its timeless appeal (Christe 349). Even in the beginning, Christe defines the early proto-Doom band’s power, revealing that “Their gloomy tones were a captivating siren call to a deep unsatisfied void within modern consciousness” (5). When things get too flashy and fast, metal fans run back to Doom every time. In its simplicity, made of the “power of chord delivery as opposed to sheer speed” (Sharpe-Young 246), its popularity endures. 
Now that there is a considerable history of metal to be explored and studied, all family trees are scrutinized and celebrated. Today, those who try to situate this history in some sort of social significance agree that newer Doom bands inevitably are compared to Black Sabbath in one way or another. One such example is Sleep’s
 According to Doom-metal.com, these sub-genres are Atmospheric Doom, Avant-garde Doom, Black Doom, Death Doom, Drone Doom, Funeral Doom, Gothic Doom, Grindcore Doom, Proto Doom, Sludge Doom, Stoner Doom, Traditional Doom, and Epic Doom.
 Dean writes that “After 35 years they have a bigger fan base now than they did at the beginning and it’s still growing!”
 Christe lists the best of these bands as Burning Witch, Cathedral, Candlemass, Corrupted, Dream Death, Earth, Eyehategod, Melvins, The Obsessed, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Sleep, and Trouble.
 Sharpe lists the best of these bands as Anathema, Candlemass, Cathedral, Electric Wizard, My Dying Bride, Pentagram, Reverand Bizarre, Saint Vitus, Samael, Sleep, Solitude Aeternus, The Obsessed, and Trouble.
 Cathedral was one such band.