Bolstering Nebraska’s Doom Metal Sound | Concert Preview

When people think of 1960s Greenwich Village, they typically think of the folk, singer/songwriter scene rather than a specific musician. The go-to artists are near household names: Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk and Townes Van Zandt.

Yet, it was the Village-centered folk counterculture itself that resonated. Similarly, Nathan Christensen, drummer for the metal duo Rift, says the state’s doom, stoner and sludge metal bands want to collectively create a Nebraska sound.

“I’m one of those musicians that strongly believes it is more important to have a scene than it is to be the band at the top of the ladder,” Christensen says. “The doom scene really understands that your city is not going to be known for your band, it is going to be known for a sound.”

Rift plays Lookout Lounge Saturday as part of Clenched Fist Productions’ Doomsday event (RSVP here.)  The show features five Nebraska metal bands — Rift, Megaton, Super Moon, Wet Radio and Tendead — plus Des Moines’s Superchief

Christensen makes it very clear that doom metal is much different than other forms of metal music. To Christensen, stoner, sludge and doom metal are all throwbacks to the music that emerged in the late ‘60s and ‘70s that first started what we know as metal.

As Christensen describes it, doom metal is a wall of sound.

“It’s just loud and it stays loud,” Christensen says.

Steve Smith, lead guitarist and vocal frontman of Omaha-based Megaton, described subscribers to the doom-type sub-genres of metal as Black Sabbath worshipers.

“I think in sludge and doom there is less emphasis on speed and being aggressive, and more emphasis on being heavy,” Smith says.

You can hear these qualities in both Megaton and Rift. Megaton does it in the more classic way, with a full four-member band. Smith is joined by bassist Serena McLaughlin, rhythm guitarist Derrek Christians and drummer Mario Ibarra.

Rift does it a little differently. The duo has to find other ways to produce that wall of sound described by Christensen. As a drummer, he has adapted and learned to use the whole kit to produce the sound he wants. Guitarist Jon Baumann completes the sound by feeding his guitar through an octave pedal to produce a deeper bass sound. The duo, with no vocals, relies on improvisation and chemistry to achieve a sound they want.

Mutual appreciation of Nebraska doom bands is why Smith says he started the Nebraska Stoner Sludge and Doom Association. The group was formed to help the state’s bands in this sub-genre coordinate shows, collaborate and generally support the scene. Many of the bands represented in the group will be showcased Saturday.

“I’m excited to play with all of these guys. I’m a fan of every single one of these bands,” Smith says.