I’ll start out here by saying this is some book. A suitably hefty tome and no mistake, wrapped in another marvellous cover by artist David Thiérrée (a print of which is also available from the publisher for a modest add-on price) I believe) in coffee table size. This has clearly been an obsessive labour of love for Mr Evdokimov and here, up front, I am glad to say it has clearly been worth it. There have been a couple of less than successful previous efforts at tackling this trickiest and prickliest of metal musical subjects but this is by far the best and it really is going to be the definitive one for a good long while I reckon. The sheer work involved here, and the passion and drive needed to accomplish it, is frankly staggering.
The book is presented in alphabetical listing form, with unusually significant amounts of interview material often making the meat of the entry along with potted history, black and white photographs and album listings. There is also a foreword or three (more of which later), a fine introduction concerning doom itself as well as an with extensive essay on H P Lovecraft and his tendrils down into doom, an interview with Lee Dorian and an article by Sami Albert ‘Witchfinder’ Hynninen on magic in Reverend Bizarre.
The next best thing about this book apart from the sheer quality is that it is the best argument starter..er..sorry, passionate discussion starter I have seen in an age. Ok, now to clarify what follows is a big compliment and not a criticism and there may be inappropriate use of capital letters coming up….
In his foreword, Aleksey is very clear about what has been included and why. He has had to make decisions simply to keep the book down to even this huge level, thus excluding the more death and extreme orientated bands , at least for this volume, and sticking to the ‘traditional’ and the stoner/occult rock sub genres only and limiting the numbers to around four hundred. Now me, I am pretty darned hardline on all this. I don’t really usually admit to seeing Doom (see that capital?) as an umbrella term. Doom is Doom, my brain cries, and that is True Doom. Sabbath, Pentagram, rising through early Solstice, The Gates Of Slumber and Reverend Bizarre to other modern luminaries. Anything tacking doom onto another genre be it death, drone, funeral, stoner or sludge is another genre, another root and often though not always another aesthetic altogether regardless of the quality of the band (and I am a real funeral doom fan, for instance, and love a few sludge/doom bands). So when I dip in and find Pombagira and Sleep my eyebrows raise but not in relation to their obvious quality. Then my brain stops being silly and I go with it. Yes my stance is ridiculous, I know really, but it starts some fun discussions…!
And again that must be part of the soul of this book; when you are as obviously passionate about your subject as the author, you want to share, talk, introduce and discuss and now he can do that without even being there.
Which is why I rate this book so highly: It lays out its reasoning clearly in the introduction and goes with it with passion and utter conviction and does a proper job.
There are so many bands in here I either was completely unaware of or only knew as a name. There’s the delight when I find Scald and Angel Of Damnation, the extensive Gates Of Slumber entry, the slight puzzlement at the absence of While Heaven Wept and Sevenchurch (numbers I guess, and I have no idea how obscure the latter are outside of the UK, though, they have just always been there in my doom brain since I chanced upon their sole studio album and hard their name dropped by many i admired musically.) Then there is just total intrigue at names that flash up that are new and need to be investigated. Even bands I know well like Jack Frost who I discover snuck out an album I was unaware of. See? Brilliant, no matter what doom genre or sub genre is you main thing, this is the book.
I find the best way to approach the Lexicanum is to read all the forewords and introduction, then dive in at some band you know and read around those pages for a while rather than try to go religiously from A to Z. Read the Lee Dorian interview or the Lovecraft essay or Albert Witchfinder’s just to break things up. Just play with it like that before attempting a cover to cover trawl. Let it educate, entertain and amuse at its own pace. This is doom after all.
That is what a book like this should do, and Doom Lexicanum does it in spades. It is an absolute joy. Aleksey, take a bow and probably a well deserved rest too. I should also congratulate Cult Never Does for stepping outside their black metal comfort zone just a little and giving this book the perfect treatment and a hugely sympathetic home.
You like doom? Of any kind? You need this. End of.