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DEADIdea Productions (Multimedia Company) : The Doom Doc

An intriguing DVD documentary look into the contemporary UK Stoner/Sludge/Doom scene based around Sheffield.

Appropriately enough it was a long time coming. At least it felt that way. As I watched the films slow progress via social media, the longer it took to gestate, I suppose quite naturally, the higher the expectations went. As time ticked by, bigger names were added to roster of interviewees. A few prominent and familiar faces from the UK's underground Stoner/Sludge scene got the ball rolling, followed by the likes of Kirk Windstein, Vinny Appice, and Bill Ward. Very promising indeed. But, in reality, 'The Doom Doc' is both a fascinating peek into a small yet thriving community of musicians in Sheffield, and initially at any rate, a tiny bit of a let down. But whose fault is that? Mine probably. As the saying goes, "how'd those expectations work out for you..?"

My first and lasting issue is the title. Given the shape and size of Doom these days, a small, intimate foray into the Sheffield Underground Sludge, Doom and Stoner scene calling itself 'THE Doom Doc' might be a tad misguided, or even misleading. That said, it was a working title that simply stuck. I mean, what else do you call it? 'A Small Intimate Foray Into Sheffield's Underground Stoner, Sludge and Doom Scene' doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? Perhaps 'A Doom Doc' might have been the way to go. I suppose, to a degree, I was anticipating a history of Doom. Again with the expectations. However, this is basically a wonderfully honest and no-holds-barred look into a small but somewhat pulsing scene in the UK city of Sheffield. A slice of low-key history, and a passage of time in a scene that clearly means an awful lot to those who inhabit it. Semantics aside, if Doom essentially means slow and heavy music with its roots in Heavy Metal, then this is a documentary about it. It feels almost incidental, or accidental, that they just happened to rope in the drummer from one of the biggest, and arguably the most influential, Heavy Metal acts of all time.

The film essentially follows the fortunes, or otherwise, of Holy Spider Promotions, an underground team dedicated to bringing Doom, Sludge and Stoner bands to Sheffield. The story arc here recounts their efforts to bring a Doom styled 'festival' night to Sheffield on the same day as a large mainstream music event. Somewhere for all the Stoners to go. Approaching the whole idea with a commendably stoic Waynes' World/Field Of Dreams type of vision ("if you build it, they will come"), it is interesting to see that venues can still front up to promoters with thinly veiled "we don't want your sort round here" excuses masked as economic "worries" or concerns about the noise. Something echoed in the film's chronicled demise of certain other practice rooms and gig spots as the gentrification of Sheffield's city centre takes a firm hold of any available and cheap, downtrodden real estate.

When asked about the whys and wherefores of making Doom, the bands tend to split it fairly evenly between a cathartic purge or release, particularly in a live setting, and sayng something meaningful about life's darker side. And then there's Slabdragger, God bless 'em. Their "it's all just Sabbaff really, innit..." stance comes straight out of the Nigel Tufnell book of quotes. They do have a point though, it all arguably goes back to Birmingham's finest foursome in the end, and Bill Ward is ever reliable for some thoroughly heartfelt musings on why he and other people make this kind of music. It's also, for Crowbar's Kirk Windstein, about finding some light at the end of the tunnel, realising you're not alone in this, not shying away from reality, and finding a sense of place and community.

I think what I like best about the film is two fold. The first are the many varied talking points and issues the film raises, some of which have already been discussed. I mean, what's a documentary if it doesn't get you thinking? From the na´ve rantings of the "Stoner's not Doom" brigade, to the unsettling suicide of Wet Nuns drummer Leki, and everything in between, there's a lot that surfaces throughout the film that both fires the imagination and provides some good food for thought, and not all of it is music-related. Secondly, is the fact that it shows everything from the ground up, on a very unpretentious street level. This only emphasises and showcases the effectiveness of the DIY, Punk ethic within much, if not all, of the underground. Couple both of those with the "triumph in the face of adversity" attitude of a group of people who come across as absolutely needing to do this and you have a rather charming overall vibe brought lovingly and very professionally to life on the screen in front of you.

Referring back to my earlier concerns, I'm rather glad this didn't turn out to be a "History of..." type of film. I mean, how do you even begin to do that? And if you did, you'd never get it right. Queues of disgruntled "fans" moaning that you didn't include certain bands and arguing the toss about fringe genres and their relevance to Doom. Boring. Thankfully, here we've got something you can't really argue with. It is what it is. A snapshot of a scene, doing what scenes do. And doing it honestly. It just adds to the party that the likes of Kirk Windstein and Bill Ward were good enough to give their time and prove that you can make a living out of slow and heavy music, providing as Windstein says, you're prepared to get out there and put the work in. Which is what Holy Spider are doing; putting the work in that is. The rest is in the lap of the gods. Fittingly, the final throes of the film see local fan Chris becoming a part of Holy Spider promotions. Someone who found some Doom on Youtube and began going to gigs and getting involved, who is now helping to carry the flame of slow and heavy music in Sheffield into a dimly lit future.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. The Doom Doc

Duration : Approx. 86 minutes

Visit the DEADIdea Productions (Multimedia Company) bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-02-27 by Matt Halsey
Rotten Copper
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