Whilst it’s probably true that the word ‘doom’ has little or no meaning in a heavy metal context anymore, so diluted and confused has it’s meaning become, it would also be true to say that the new Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf album, Doomsday Deferred, is the ultimate exposition of doom as a genre in 2021.

That is to say, Doomsday… is so bereft of focus in it’s attempt to cover all the bases that it, too, lacks any real meaning. That’s not to say it isn’t a great record, because it undoubtedly is. But, as a listener, you’re asked to constantly recalibrate your ears to make sense of what’s going on. Which is quite a big ask in these days of diminished concentration spans and time-poor, cherry-picking music consumption. The maker alone knows what it must be like living in the brain of the man who originated all this…

So you get, for want of a better word, straightahead doom on opener Shadow in the Wall, before Stewart lurches off to the left with the jazzy Two Trog Yomp, wherein the swing of prime Blue Öyster Cult is repurposed for the stoner generation; it’s truly brilliant stuff, easily one of my fave tracks of the year, but then he’s off again, changing tack and offering some Primus-styled mayhem in the shape of Madness For Two. Stewart, you see, is a bassist – he twanged the four strings in one of my fave all time thrash bands, Hallow’s Eve – and so bottom-ended, Claypool quirk is something of a stock in trade.

This musical schizophrenia frames the rest of the album; Rolling My Own sounds like Grand Funk duking it out with Frank Zappa, for instance, but then three minutes later we’re back to sixties flavoured proto-metal (Not Prey To Yourself), and then on to Pink Floyd at their most paranoid (Indiscriminat Trepidation). Looking back at my initial notes made when first listening to this particularly nightmarish piece of psyche-mining, I see I’ve written ‘Cliff Burton would have loved this’. And I think that’s a s good a description of what’s going on as any. Stewart plays bass in a similar, freewheeling, lead-guitar style as the much missed Metallica man, and I could easily see him getting involved in a bit of jam action with Dyerwulf were he still with us today…

Stars Flee in Pain isn’t quite so strong, sounding a little overlong and bloated, but the album ends strongly with the ambient noise of Why The Rotting Sun Speaks In Tongues – which, on reflection, is even more Burtonesque than Indiscriminat Trepidation – and the thunderous sturm un drang of By the Blood of Mars, perhaps the most recognisable ‘doom’ composition on the album.

As noted, this is a very hard album to pin down,but in the final washup that skittishness plays as one of Dyerwulf’s ultimate strengths. You have to work at this album to get anything out of it, but that work is rewarded in the end. Strange and beautiful.

Doomsday Deferred releases on September 3rd.