Pink Floyd’s massive influence on doom metal is rarely discussed. Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer are rightly praised for introducing the heavy riffs and downtrodden lyrics that Saint Vitus and friends would build upon, but Pink Floyd’s work certainly played a part in the genre’s love for ambience and trippy instrumentation. Hell, my own band’s upcoming album will have a song that’s basically a heavy metal version of “One of These Days.” Thus, it only makes sense for an ensemble led by The Sword guitarist Kyle Shutt to put a heavy spin on your dad’s favorite space rock album.
It goes without saying that Doom Side of the Moon is heavier than Dark Side. The drums are harder hitting, the guitar has a sharper bite, a few heavy bursts come in on occasion, and there are a few points where they toy with song arrangements. Unfortunately, there are as many points when the tempos and sound shifts don’t hit where they should. This is most obvious with “Money”: the way it builds the intro riff like an 5/4 version of Sleep’s “Dragonaut” is absolutely brilliant, but having the heavy rhythm come in at the same time as the vocals results in the song blowing its load too early. A similarly awkward shuffle appears on “Time,” but the transition makes more sense in that context.
The album is also diminished by a lack of the original’s various sound effects and samples. Hearing the saxophone on here is a relief as well as a friendly reminder of my personal desire to see more horns in doom metal, but these songs sounds incredibly hollow without the alarm clocks on “Time,” cash registers on “Money,” or the unusual conversations that appeared throughout the original album.
This point becomes an offensive deal breaker on “The Great Gig in the Sky,” as they don’t even bother with a recreation of the opening monologue or Clare Torrey’s earthshattering wails, resulting in faceless muzak that becomes a cacophony towards the end for no apparent reason. That is not to say that the album requires the exact samples but rather that something needs to fill in that space whether it be a recreation or something new. There are certainly adjustments to expect on a cover album, but these aren’t exactly the kinds of songs that can be jammed out bare bones by four guys in a basement.
Fortunately there are a couple songs where the doomy formula works well. “Us and Them” is the best song on here as its verse/chorus dynamics and dreamy atmosphere are tailor made for metallic swells. “Brain Damage” also manages to be a surprise success as the original’s acoustic treatment is traded in for a more riff-heavy attitude without losing sight of the structure or pacing. I can’t tell what it means when a more overlooked song on an original is one of the best on a remake. Well, us doom guys do like our deep cuts, right?
Doom Side of the Moon is a neat idea that was clearly conceived as a labor of love, but this particular album may not have been the best one to try this experiment with. The importance of the original’s samples and meticulous soundscapes really doesn’t lend itself well to the concept at hand. I think an album like Wish You Were Here or A Saucerful of Secrets would’ve been a much more fitting candidate, even if it wouldn’t have had anywhere close to this amount of exposure. I give these musicians props for having the balls to try this out and urge my fellow nitpickers to not get too worked up over this effort. Think this still syncs up to The Wizard of Oz?
“Us and Them”