Penance in the early 2000s.
Background information
Origin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Genres Traditional Doom Metal, Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
Years active 1989 - 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017
Labels Rise Above Records, Century Media, Martyr Music Group, PsycheDOOMelic
Associated acts Darketa, Dream Death, Mole Hill, Under The Sun, Internal Void, Pentagram, Cathedral, Blackfinger, Doomwatch, Argus, Molasses Barge, Novembers Doom, Sally, Eternal
Website Facebook
Band Logo
Penance Logo

Penance are a doom metal band originating from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Active mainly throughout 1989 - 2004 the band initially adopted a traditional doom metal sound but worked in elements of progressive rock and progressive metal into their later works.

Throughout their tenure they managed to put out five studio albums and one posthumous album, touring mainly the US and Europe with a handful of reunion shows over their career.


Penance began in 1989 with the members of Pittsburgh area band Dream Death moving more solely in a classic Doom direction. Drummer Mike Smail, guitarist Terry Weston, and bassist Rich Freund (who had replaced original bass player Ted Williams in Dream Death, following Williams' departure to another local band named Eviciton) recorded the Living Truth demo, with Brian (Lawrence) Goodbread originally a guest member. One of these demo tracks, "Contemplation", would appear on the Rise Above Records compilation Dark Passages, and Mike Smail would later record with Rise Above owner and ex-NAPALM DEATH vocalist Lee Dorrian, on Cathedral's debut album Forest of Equilibrium.

With Brian Goodbread (himself a founding member of Dream Death) handling vocals and rhythm guitar, Penance recorded and released their debut album The Road Less Travelled on Rise Above Records in 1992, and would go on and tour Europe the next year in support of the album the following year alongside Cathedral and Sleep. Goodbread left the band before the tour, and Lee Smith became the group's singer, with Weston being backed by Cathedral's Gaz Jennings on rhythm guitar for the tour.

After returning to the states, Penance were free to sign with another label and would do so with Century Media, who had expressed interest in the group before Penance released "The Road Less Travelled", with Rise Above. New members Lee Smith and Frank Miller were on board following the departures of Goodbread and later Freund, and this line-up recorded 1994's Parallel Corners. With better production and a broader release, the album helped the band to gain more fans worldwide. "Parallel Corners" had positive critical acclaim and later hailed by Martin Popoff in "The Guide to Heavy Metal" as one of the top five "post-Sabbath" albums ever released.

Sometime after Miller left the group and Lee Smith ran into visa issues, subsequently having to return to England and leaving the band on a brief hiatus. Weston and Smail would eventually begin working with vocalist Brian "Butch" Balich. In 1998 the band recorded and released the Bridges To Burn demo, with a little help from Brian Goodbread, who played bass on the recording. The demo let fans and record labels know Penance was still active and working on new material. With new bassist Ron Leard on board, the band would self-release their next full length album in 1999: Proving Ground. This same line-up would also record the Turn For The Worse demo in 2000. The band would eventually sign with Martyr Music, whom would remix, remaster and re-release Proving Ground in 2001.

2001 would also see a new Penance offering released by Martyr Music, with a new line-up as well, namely bassist Mary Bielich (November's Doom, Mythic, etc.) and guitarist Matt Tuite (Wicker Man, Justice). The new members joined Smail, Weston, and Balich for 2001's Alpha and Omega, further expanding on the band's sound. The band would make notable appearances at early editions of Stoner Hands of Doom and Emissions from the Monolith.

2003 saw the release of the band's fifth (and final) album Spiritualnatural, again with Martyr Music. Founding member Terry Weston would leave at some point during the production of the album, but co-wrote and played on a few of the songs heard here, while Matt Tuite contributed a major portion of the music. Guitarist Dave Roman (Humbucker) was recruited to join the band and contributed to the songwriting as well. This line-up would see Penance's return to Europe that same year. After the 2004 European tour, Penance would later disband, with it's members heading in different directions. In 2005 PsycheDOOMelic Records would secure and release The Road Revisited, an entire alternate recording of The Road Less Travelled recorded in 1992.

In April of 2007 Penance would have their first reunion playing the Doom or Be Doomed festival in Baltimore, Maryland, with Smail, Weston, and Balich being joined by Dave Roman on bass. In 2013 the band would reunite for two special shows. The first would be an appearance at Roadburn Festival with the lineup of Smith, Weston, Smail and Freund. The second would be an appearance at Days of The Doomed. The intent was for Lee Smith to join the band to perform the entire Parallel Corners album but due to visa issues was unable to make it. Butch Balich would step in and perform a host of songs spanning the band's career.

On 14 February 2017 it would be announced that Penance would perform again at Descendants of Crom (A Pittsburgh-based festival) in late September with the "Alpha and Omega" lineup of Balich, Smail, Weston, Tuite, Leard and Bielich.[1]


Studio AlbumsEdit

  • The Road Less Travelled (1992, Rise Above Records)
  • Parallel Corners (1994, Century Media Records)
  • Proving Ground (1999, Independent)
  • Alpha & Omega (2001, Martyr Music Group)
  • Spiritualnatural (2003, Martyr Music Group)
  • The Road Revisited (2005, PsycheDOOMelic Records)

Misc. ReleasesEdit

  • Living Truth (Demo) (1990, Self-Released)
  • Bridges to Burn (Demo) (1998, Self-Released)
  • Turn For The Worse (Demo) (2000, Self-Released)


Current MembersEdit

  • Mike Smail - Drums (1989 - 2004, 2007, 2011 - 2013, 2017)
  • Terry Weston - Guitar (1989 - 2003, 2007, 2011 - 2013, 2017)
  • Butch Balich - Vocals (1995 - 2004, 2007, 2013, 2017)
  • Matt Tuite - Guitar (2001 - 2003, 2017)
  • Ron Leard - Bass (1998 - 2000, 2017)
  • Mary M. Bielich - Bass (2001 - 2004, 2017)

Former MembersEdit

  • Richard Freund - Bass (1989 - 1992, 2013)
  • Lee Smith - Vocals (1992 - 1994, 2013)
  • Gary Jennings - Live Guitar (1993)
  • Frank Miller - Bass (1994)
  • Dave Roman - Bass, Guitar (2003 - 2004), Bass (2007)


NOTE: This is a list of known tours. More info will be added when found.

  • 1993 European Tour (With Cathedral, Sleep) (1993)
  • 2004 European Tour (2004)

External LinksEdit


  1. The ObeliskAccessed 23 May 2017
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