Masters of suspense

The Sisters Doom

Interested in creeping dread: Grey Doom, Mark Doom, Suta Doom, Mike Doom, Alex Doom and Jon Doom of The Sisters Doom.

Interested in creeping dread: Grey Doom, Mark Doom, Suta Doom, Mike Doom, Alex Doom and Jon Doom of The Sisters Doom.

Photo/Kent Irwin

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“Bring earplugs”: Following these few words of advice, I went to visit the elusive The Sisters Doom at their practice space. Prior to our meeting, I only had a few clues to the band’s identity. I found a video titled “Cult Status” which plays eerie ambient music to a display of bizarre images. Silhouettes of hands grasping at a screen. A shadowy woman standing in a field with an ax. A murder of crows in the mist. Captioned underneath it all is a common internet phrase turned foreboding: “Follow Us.”

To bolster the cultist aesthetic, the band members have shed their family names and adopted the surname Doom.

Intentionally obscuring their identities and sound is not just a gimmick. It serves a direct purpose. Many of the band members have histories working the Reno music scene. They want to make clear that The Sisters Doom is an entirely new band with an entirely new vision.

The Sisters Doom has a volcanic, ear-shattering sound that owes much to the classic doom metal of Pentagram and Electric Wizard. However, the band name is not necessarily a nod to the genre, but to doom in a philosophical sense. Singer Mark Doom cites several horror film directors as influences. Dario Argento, Roman Polanski and the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

“I am interested in how they build a sense of creeping dread,” says Mark. “I prefer those kind of movies to the whole ’blood and guts on the floor’ thing.”

The band’s sound is sludgy and distorted, with driving rock energy and pulse-pounding rhythms. Since the sound relies more on vintage rock groove than the crushing mudslide of doom metal, The Sisters Doom offer the feel of a different genre: the more geographically-appropriate “desert rock” pioneered by the down-tuned crunch of Kyuss in the Palm Springs desert in the 1990s.

Because of their particular blend of rock drive and metal atmosphere, The Sisters Doom is cautious about which bands they play live with around Reno.

“We love the Reno metal scene,” says Grey Doom. “But we don’t always fit the bill.”

Audiences of Reno’s heavier acts might not find their bloodlust sated by The Sisters Doom. But fans of the concussive blues riffs of Black Sabbath will find a lot to love about this band. Guitarists Alex Doom and Jon Doom play loud and dark, bassist Grey deftly executes pentatonic arpeggios, drummer Michael Doom pounds relentlessly, and on top of the bloody crawl is a layer of intricate keyboard work by new recruit Suta Doom.

Grey and Jon are veterans of the local scene, playing in bands for over a decade. Searching for a different sound, they sat together and started building songs from guitar lines. Next on board were Michael on drums and Alex on guitar. Outfitted with a solid rhythm section, they put their work on a short demo, which they sent to keyboardist Suta and vocalist Mark.

“I played the demo in my car for a week,” says Mark.

Once the lineup filled out, the focus of the music became a foundation of solid songwriting. The songs are fiery and reckless, like any good metal, but it’s apparent that there is an emotional eye in the storm. Mark's voice is at one moment melodic, the next a gritty howl. The lyrics center around alienation, self-destruction, the frustration of pursuing higher understanding.

Although The Sisters Doom may make a deliberate effort of building suspense, don’t expect their shows to be flashy. Michael Doom stresses that the emphasis is on the sound, not the image: “Let the music speak for itself.”