One of the genre boundaries that I have the most trouble with is the one that lies between doom and sludge metal. It's a thin boundary but it often seems like the two genres approach it from completely different directions. Doom is traditional metal that's been slowed down, often considerably. Sludge is hardcore punk that's been rocked up but ends up in a similar place. It's dirtier, more dissonant and, in many instances, less elegant. Stoner metal also comes into play on the boundary between them, often by adding a psychedelic element, though that's more common with doom than sludge.
I mention all this because Dakat Doomia, who hail from Israel, have pitched their tent exactly on that boundary and it makes their sound fascinating. I get the impression, which may be completely wrong, that the band are more comfortable with doom and their go to texture is atmospheric and doomy, but they have wider tastes and they often trawl in sludge and psych for effect. The sludge mostly shows up in Yahav Zukin's guitarwork when there's a need for emphasis. Maor Movsovich's harsher vocals add a further level of darkness and dirt, but he's closer to a death growl than a hardcore shout.
I believe this is technically listed as an EP but, at half an hour, it's longer than some entire albums that I've reviewed lately and it kicks off with its longest song, a complex piece called Paranoia. At different points, it calms down and heavies up on a sort of wave, but it also shifts from an elegant doom sound, à la Candlemass, to a faster, more edgy one with more of a Trouble feel to it. The harsher vocals make it darker, though I should add that Movsovich doesn't stay harsh throughout. It's an interesting song.
And the album only gets more interesting from there. The approach taken in Paranoia of doom with a little sludge only builds with Meteor, but this one adds in a psychedelic edge too through clean vocals and more mellow guitar. And then, two and a half minutes in, it really starts rocking with a raw riff to grab our attention and a gorgeous pause to cement it in place. Then it finds an example of what is my favourite mode for Dakat Doomia, which is a bouncy riff combined with a wailing solo and that growl over it. It's gorgeous and the similar example halfway through Eternal March is even better.
Eternal March layers on the psych and, almost a minute in, throws in a very sludge guitar just oozing with distortion. This song really grows and may be the best one here. I may well always prefer doom to sludge, but to me this is what sludge was created for. It's elegant and smooth and organic until it has a yen to dirty everything up and wail out the blues. The Voids Call does some of the same thing, a lush psychedelic heavy blues song that's as often dark Hawkwind as it is Black Sabbath.
And that leaves Sight of Death, a seven and a half minute epic with a gloriously creeping atmosphere to kick things off. I wonder if the cover art is meant to illustrate this scene, because it feels cavernous, echoing and dark. It also feels different, because the voice, which I presume is Movsovich's, isn't using English at this point, though he does sing in English throughout. This is more of a spoken word section with a reprise later in the piece and I presume he's conjuring in Hebrew [Note: Maor Movsovich kindly let me know that it's actually in Russian]. Regardless of whoever does it and what language it's in, it's effective.
I like this album and I found that I liked it more the longer it ran. It's good when it's pure doom, or as close as it gets, but the sludge adds to it and the psychedelic stoner edge adds even more. Apart from Eternal March being released as a single, this is their first work since forming in 2018 and I'm keen to hear more.