J.J. Anselmi – Doomed to Fail: The Incredibly Loud History of Doom, Sludge, And Post-Metal (Rare Bird)

Wednesday, 4th March 2020
Rating: 8/10

Ask ten people to describe doom metal and you’re likely to get ten different responses. Intrepid writer J.J. Anselmi of Invisible Oranges tackles the history of doom (as well as sludge and post-metal) on Doomed to Fail, providing some context along the way as to how culture has shaped the sound of various cities such as Birmingham, England and New Orleans, Louisiana. As such, this is not necessarily a high-level read nor a gateway for would-be fans of the various styles Ansemi so lovingly writes about. It’s for die-hards only, hence the deep-dive.

Anselmi takes the calculated risk of interjecting his personal thoughts throughout the text, notably, his relation to the bands and what they mean to him. (His quick excerpt on what it’s like to listen to legendary doom-mongers Khanate is particularly funny.) He does, though, provide a thorough look at each of the main scenes that help build doom, sludge and post-metal up to what it is today, roping in the usual suspects like Sabbath, as well as the early 90s Peaceville scene, Southern metal (i.e. sludge) and the sonic exploits of Isis and Neurosis. Of particular note is the portions on Winter, Cathedral and Sleep, a trio of bands deserving of their own tomes. Here, Anselmi provides the key info and includes some spot-on assessments on their respective albums. (The first two Cathedral albums are their best indeed.)

What ultimately helps Doomed to Fail set sail is the fact Anselmi wrote it from a genuine place of experience. Contrary to the manner in which most books of this variety are written, Anselmi has sweated it out for years as a drummer in his own bands, forever drawn to the sound of noisy sludge. It’s this sincerity, not to mention Anselmi’s engaging writing style, that makes Doomed to Fail a worthwhile ode and read about the underground’s most unsavory of sounds.

J.J. Anselmi homepage