Doomstress is a band that makes no secret of their female influence. Headed up by frontwoman Doomstress Alexis, the band is clearly fueled by the same feminine energy present from the very first days of doom. In fact, they even covered “Wicked Woman,” the classic song by female-fronted proto-metal band Coven. As an out-and-proud trans woman, Doomstress does her best to advocate for human rights as well as for evil, skull-crushing doom. She was recently featured in the “We’re Just People” photo exhibit in San Fransisco, highlighting the everyday lives of trans folks. She also plays some seriously ripping metal, so we decided to sit down with Doomstress and get a track-by track analysis of the band’s recent EP, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds.
Way of the Mountain
Doomstress Alexis: This was kind of our jumping off point from the more progressive ways of my previous band, Project Armageddon. I wanted to get back to that heavy, rockin’ groove feel while at the same time still keeping a metal edge to the music.
Lyrically I was invoking the powers of the wild woman and nature.
Brandon: I always felt that this song was a great way to open an album or a live set. Heavy riffs with a few lulls so Alexis can show off her vocal talents. It shows people what Doomstress is about and let’s them know what they are in for.
The second half of the second guitar solo was a total pain in the ass to write. The solo is over the riff that comes before the chorus. I’m pretty sure it’s not a standard time signature; at least it doesn’t feel like a standard time signature. Better people than me can try to figure out what timing it’s in.
This is also the first time I ever did any kind of singing on a recording. It’s not really loud in the mix but it’s there during the chorus.
Doomstress Alexis: We were getting ready to go on our first tour with our first tour lineup and I was going through riffs I had for a new song to add to the tour set and eventually record. This was a newer riff I had at the time and it just jumped at me with the energy.
Lyrically I was really bringing up a lot of personal feelings from things that had been going on in and around my life. There was a lot of darkness and pain in there.
Brandon: Musically, this song pretty much sums up Doomstress. Heavy riffs, thunderous bass, guitar harmonies, cannon-like drums, and soaring vocals. All this and more will be heard on the full-length Doomstress album next year.
Rainbow Demon (Uriah Heep-1972)
Doomstress Alexis: Brandon and I were taking a trip to Florida over New Years 2016, just a few months prior to starting the Doomstress recording, to clear our heads a bit. He had Uriah Heep’s “Demons & Wizards” CD playing and I think it was a bit before dusk and I was driving. As this song came on a strange calm seemed to envelop the moment and as the song finished we each had this same look on our faces that we needed to do this song. We’ve had the great honor of having some awesome musicians join us to sing on tour, including mark Shelton of Manilla Road, Stacey Savage of Savage Master and Sabine Stangenberg of Disenchanter!
Brandon: I’ve always wanted to cover a Uriah Heep song. I’m really happy the way this turned out. We honored the original version of the song but we added some guitar harmonies that I feel added a lot more mood to it. And it turn made a heavy song even heavier. I also got to do some backing vocals on this track.
Sleep Among the Dead
Doomstress Alexis: Initially it was hard to convey all I was hearing as rhythms and harmonies flooded my mind, but once I was able to start putting the pieces together with musicians it seemed to take on an intense life of its own.
While the music is brooding and dark, the lyrics tend to be about understanding this darkness surrounding one’s self and stepping beyond that into a larger cosmic world of possibility.
Brandon: This is my favorite song that we do. When Alexis was writing it, she kept playing me the parts but I just couldn’t hear it coming together into one coherent song. It wasn’t until jamming it with a full band that it finally clicked for me.
The guitar harmony part during the verse was a happy accident that happened in the studio. It originally was not supposed to be like that. I’ll tell the story as quickly as I can. By the time we got to recording the guitar parts for this song my brain and ears were fried from all the other songs we had recorded before this. I thought I was playing the harmony the way I had written it. But the next day when we went back and listened to the song, I knew I had messed up but I liked it much better. To me it added a more sinister, unsettling vibe to the song. I dig it. I did some backup vocals during the chorus on this one as well.
Wicked Woman (Coven-1969)
Doomstress Alexis: I’d always loved this song in particular by Coven and had planned early on to cover this, although I didn’t foresee the changes we would make to it. The original, while always classic in my mind, had a very poor musical quality, with all emphasis on Jinx’s [Dawson, frontwoman of Coven] vocals. My initial plan was to really make the music more solid with our version, but it soon took on a much different, heavier groove.
Brandon: I didn’t really like the original version of this song. Jinx’ vocals and lyrics are the only thing I can say I liked about it, so I really wasn’t excited about recording it. The day we were set to record it, Alexis was jamming the bass parts. Well, in the original version of the song there is this one cool bass fill. Alexis was playing it over and over and I was like, “we’ll used that as the verse.” Totally changed the song from something I wasn’t excited about to something I was really stoked to do. It turned out awesome.
I had no idea what to do for the solo on this song. We recorded a couple of rough, improvised takes. I’m not the best at guitar improvisation, so I had every intention of going back and writing something for the solo. Well, when it was time to record it I was drawing a blank and everything I was trying sounded like crap. I was getting extremely frustrated. Alexis and Tom were like “The improvised solos you did the other day were awesome. Lets go back and listen to them.” So we listened, and they were OK, I guess. But they still insisted that they were great. Next they were like, “Let’s try this.” So Tom (Skull) layered both takes over each other like Tony Iommi would do on some Black Sabbath recordings. Thank goodness; Tom saved those tracks. It turned something that I really wasn’t happy with into something I love.