It’s Saturday night, and the recently engaged couple Hayden Kirkby and Katie Puryear are at Armadillo Ale Works in Denton to meet up with some of Puryear’s friends and grab a few drinks before going to throw axes at Ironwood Axe Throwing down the street.
This sweetest of couples consists of guitarist Kirkby and vocalist Puryear, who front Denton’s intimidating doom metal act Doomfall.
“We had a little project right before Doomfall that was more of a singer-songwriter kind of deal,” Kirkby says, looking at his fiancée, “and you decided that you didn’t want to do that kind of music anymore.”
“It was just easier to meet one common goal if I just joined Doomfall and began creating with that type of band,” Puryear responds. “I’ve always done acoustic stuff, and I was in a funk band in college. But I’ve never done anything quite like this.”
Doom metal isn’t the most widely familiar of genres, so perhaps it would be good to pause here for a bit of explanation: All heavy metal descends primarily from the influence of the band Black Sabbath, and doom metal, specifically, can best be understood listening to “Black Sabbath,” the first track from the album Black Sabbath with its slow, heavy guitars and haunting, melodic vocals.
“There’s not a lot of examples of what you’re supposed to sound like,” Puryear says. “Once we decided to join forces and just go after one common goal, instead of dividing ourselves between projects, we began practicing and writing on top of a lot of stuff that Hayden composed years ago.”
Puryear and Kirkby have been together for about five years and have been working together on Doomfall for almost two of those. For as dark and gloomy as Doomfall’s music can be, the couple has found the band to be an incredible source of light in their relationship.
“We’re a really good team, and we don’t fight much anyway,” Puryear says with a smile. “The band is so important to both of us, and we get so much from it. Having something that you can put your frustration and all of your love and everything that you have into, makes it really easy to get along.”
“When I was in the other band, we were playing constantly — sometimes four times a week — and Katie was at almost every one of the shows,” Kirkby adds, before addressing his partner. “You were already so involved in this part of my life anyway, why not bring you into it completely and have a lot of fun with it?”
Doomfall will release their first, self-titled album on Friday, with a release show on the same day at Double Wide in Deep Ellum and on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Andy’s Bar in Denton.
Kirkby has led Puryear down a musical dark path, as her limited exposure to the more extreme forms of metal music had her searching for the best ways to occupy her newly found role front and center in Doomfall.
“I definitely was brought into metal when I met Hayden,” Puryear says. “I’ve written all of my lyrics. I’ve also built off of phrases and words that Hayden has said to me in passing that I remember to write down. But I’ve mostly been inspired by Hayden and the music that I have started listening to.”
Ultimately, Puryear has had to carve her own path as the band’s singer, taking little bits of inspiration for her performance wherever she can find it.
“There’s not a lot of softer voices with that type of music,” she says. “It’s really been a challenge, so I just did what I wanted to do. Someone comes up with a riff, they play the riff, someone else joins in and I think about things that are going on in my life and the song that they’re writing makes me feel.
“Whenever we wrote the first song, ‘Godless,’ I just sat on the garage floor with a notepad and just wrote.”
While this happy couple may front an outfit that to the simple eyes and ears may seem as unhappy, Kirkby and Puryear say that this kind of duality is exactly what the band wants to showcase and normalize.
“There’s a lot of really dark stuff in there, which I think is kind of out of character for me, but it also isn’t,” Puryear says. “You don’t have to feel like you’re lying to anybody because you have a happier side of yourself than you feel sometimes, and you also don’t have to be afraid of the part of you that’s a little bit sad.
“You can exist with both and still find a way to create and give your life meaning.”