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Confidence - 92%

gasmask_colostomy, April 21st, 2017

Not just any band could get away with cover artwork that shows merely the band logo and a tiny plain crucifix on a white background. For most bands, particularly metal bands, that would turn their fans off from buying the album since it seems like there is not much personality to found within and a lack of visual imagery to tie to the music. However, most bands aren't Candlemass. When their debut was released almost 20 years before this album, the image of the horned skull pierced by a cross quickly became representative of the band and has stayed with them throughout a long career. Therefore, when Candlemass fans saw the artwork to this self-titled album, they must have rapidly realized that the minimalism was not a sign of a band with no ideas, but rather of a band so certain of their own identity that there was no need to distract from the essence of the group. In the same way as Metallica's "black album", that tiny crucifix was a signal of confidence.

And - to hurry quickly to the point - that confidence was not misplaced. Candlemass is a superb album from the Swedish crew, lacking neither trademark identity nor distinguishing features and ensuring that the last album with Messiah Marcolin was one to cherish rather than sigh over. Indeed, the eccentric singer brought a certain something to proceedings here that he hadn't done on his three earlier Candlemass outings, keeping his range in check and opting for power and subtlety instead, leaving the album a mite less dramatic though just as impactful as Nightfall or Tales of Creation. In part, that more controlled performance is down to the other members of the band, who play in a simpler fashion than they did back in the '80s, though also with more focus on power and sheer scale, something that the thunderous production enhances and throws in your face. Seriously, listening to this at high volume is like having an elephant sit on your chest. All this means that the minor power metal elements are stripped from the style (though that was the case as well on the two Björn Flodkvist-fronted albums that preceded this one), while the "epic" doom element is delivered by means of brutish heaviness, widescreen destruction, and the soar and swoop of vocals and lead guitar.

Candlemass gave the first glimpse of the doom metal titans' second successful formula and accompanied the heavier and grittier style with significant steps in the production department, so that Mats Björkman gets an incredible rhythm guitar tone that flattens itself against the speakers, ably battered into lead sheets by Jan Lindh's pounding drums, and Leif Edling essentially headbutts your ears with his bass work that sticks to his theory of using the instrument as another guitar. As such, the sheer density of the sound is amazing and might make the purchase of the album worthwhile even if all the riffs were shit. Thankfully, they are about as far from shit as the Earth is from the Sun, each song featuring something to get the teeth into. For those weaned on 'The Well of Souls', there may be some crestfallen faces at finding the elegant melodies missing, but doom metal is all about that crestfallen feeling, which the main riffs to 'Spellbreaker' or 'Seven Silver Keys' are certainly going to produce in the best way imaginable. The slow riffs get an immense kick from the instrumental tones and are delivered with such deliberately monumental note progressions that there is really no arguing with them, except a few moments in 'Assassin of the Light' when a brief "Sabbath, is that you?" may fill your mind. As with all great doom metal, the slow riffs can make you lose your breath and lose your mind, but are also catchy enough to hum aloud, while the faster songs 'Black Dwarf', 'Witches', and 'Born in a Tank' don't hold back, thrashing about with dangerous amounts of energy that shatter the peace of the other sections. Lars Johansson deserves a quick mention too, since not only has he been a core component of Candlemass since the early days but is probably one of the most underrated guitarists in heavy metal: here, he doesn't have the freedom that he experienced on Tales of Creation, yet each time he peels off a solo it strikes the sweet spot, both in terms of musicality and spine-tingling emotion.

Choosing favourite songs from this album is difficult, so I would prefer to mention the parts that slip slightly in the quality stakes. 'Assassin of the Light', as previously mentioned, has a few parts that don't feel quite so inspired as the rest though doesn't suffer too much; then 'Born in a Tank' is a thoroughly sound arse-kicking yet a little odd for Candlemass in its jumpiness and lyrical sentiments; finally, 'The Day and the Night' is slightly unwieldy in its length and can be blamed for letting attention wander, as with decent instrumental 'The Man Who Fell from the Sky'. All things considered, these are small complaints in the light of the whole album and there is no song that feels like filler or contains significant blunders. Different stylistic elements crop up in different places, from the Black Sabbath vibe of 'Assassin of the Light' to the imperious My Dying Bride riffing in 'Copernicus' to a certain timbre of the vocals in 'The Day and the Night' that reminds me of Maryland doomsters Revelation - there's even a splash of punk influence on the bonus track. For me, the highlights are marginally 'Witches', which deviates a little from the traditional slow structure in a manner that was repeated for 'Demonia 6' on King of the Grey Islands, while 'Spellbreaker' smashes it out of the park in terms of bombastic doom riffing and tangible atmosphere. An additional highlight that might take some explanation were the bizarre YouTube comments that I found on a video of 'Black Dwarf' a few years ago: several viewers had written solemnly below the video "R.I.P. Gary Coleman" in - erm - tribute to the diminutive American actor who died in 2010. Don't ever say that doom can't be funny.

So, Candlemass is a great album, but that tends to be the case with this band, so how does it stack up against their other efforts? Certainly there is a stylistic gap to bridge for listeners more in favour of the earlier incarnation, while I feel that this album concedes a point or two to the nastier successor King of the Grey Islands, the songs on which seemed to link together better as a whole. On the other hand, the songwriting does not fluctuate much between those efforts. There are some parallels between Candlemass and the neglected Chapter VI, a release that profited from a subtler approach and intriguing yet disparate topics, but the modern production here makes it more difficult to ignore when your house is coming down around your ears. Though it sounds strange to write such a sentence, this album confidently seals its status as one of six must-have Candlemass albums.

Masterpiece - 95%

Felix 1666, July 17th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Usually, I associate heavy metal with volume and aggression, harshness and velocity. These are the features why I like this music. Doom metal has its right of existence, no doubt about it. It just does not belong to my favourite styles. The discovery of slowness does not make my day. It is a rather boring matter, at least in my view. Yet there is no rule without exceptions and the doom genre does not leave me completely cold. That´s the point where Candlemass come into play. Their albums never fell below a solid level. Even rather crude outputs like "Dactylis Glomerata" or "From the 13th Sun" have their moments. However, the masterpiece of the Swedish legend is definitely their self-titled full-length. Their first albums may have gained cult status in the eyes of some beholders, but the musical content of "Candlemass" is more or less unbeatable, among other things because of the vocals. This is where Messiah Marcolin comes in. His full voice creates dramatic, aggressive and desperate moments, depending on the needs of the respective song. Maybe he is an eccentric and insufferable egomaniac, but his vocals on "Candlemass" leave nothing to be desired. Too bad that this full-length became the farewell performance of this charismatic monk at the microphone.

Because of being no expert for this genre, I am unsure whether the album delivers pure doom. Some melody lines have a certain pop appeal. I suspect that real doom metal fans may have problems to get used to the here presented approach. Candlemass do not eschew to perform relatively cheesy lines (for example, the soft chorus of "Seven Silver Keys") and they are thankfully not totally immune against comparatively fast rhythms ("Black Dwarf" and "Born in a Tank"). But the band also scores with heavyweight riffs and ironclad harmonies that benefit from the warm and vigorous production. Highlights such as "Assassins of the Light" and "Copernicus" have to be mentioned in this context. However, the crucial thing is that almost every single piece deserves the highest praise due to the maturity of the song-writing. Mastermind Leif Edlund has composed songs that lie in very close proximity to perfection. The overdose of epic, elegiac and woeful riffs is admirable. Even the relatively brief instrumental "The Man Who Fell from the Sky" impresses me. It is actually a very simple number, but its stoic yet merciless riffs have a huge impact. The strong and metallic sound makes sure that the guitar work does not fail to have the desired effect. The riffs generate an unreal atmosphere so that the falling man is taking shape before the inner eye of the listener.

Unfortunately, the stylishly packed album narrowly misses the full score. "Witches" cannot be blamed as a letdown, but it tastes like a slightly stale Swedish light beer. Ironically, another minor flaw is the bonus track. When does mankind get rid of so-called bonus tracks that cannot compete with the regular songs? The here presented last number contains some good basic ideas, but not only due to its sudden ending, it leaves a semi-finished impression. Its noticeable lack of substance cannot be kept hidden. My enthusiasm for these two songs has therefore waned over the years. However, the mediocre pieces only represent a pitiful minority. "Candlemass" has become engraved in my mind as a poignant album that shines with both the necessary variance and the emotional force. A lot of its songs rest safely at the highest tier of doom and no change is in sight.

CRUSHING - 91%

MetalJoe, March 22nd, 2007

Wow, this has to be the heaviest Candlemass album to date. This is certainly my favorite album along with Nightfall. Although, this is completely different from Nightfall.
Maybe this s/t is slightly comparable to a few choice tracks off of Chapter IV, granted this production is superior and a far more consistent album on a whole. Having Messiah back in the fold makes all the difference in the world.

This is his finest vocal performance since Nightfall. What I mean is that he is singing more within the song. I have often thought to my self that he tends to over sing on "Ancient Dreams" and "Tales..". Too much vibrato, Messiah would often sound like he was trying out for the opera. I guess that is like saying to a lead guitar player, "you're playing too many notes". Too much wanking, if you will. Yes, you have the talent, but it doesn't quite fit the song.

Okay, saying all that, when Messiah is on his game he is the best. He hasn't necessarily toned down on this album, all the energy is still there, rather he sounds much more pissed-off and aggressive. Listen to Witches and it sounds like he never has in the past, and it sounds fucking great.

These songs are all fucking heavy. Maybe Lief's side project band Krux rubbed off a little. The opening riff in "Copernicus", is a skull crusher. It goes from the heaviest shit you can imagine, to a softer passage, back into the heaviness. Brilliantly executed. Just a fucking fantastic song. "Black Dwarf "has that "Symptom of the Universe" pulse to it. Along with "Born in a Tank" are the only real Sabbath vibe songs here. It is still total Candlemass though, not like the Sabbath worship found on "From the 13th Sun". All the tracks are good on this album, except the instrumental I could pass on. "Seven Silver Keys" is the most reminiscent of the past. Messiah singing like the glory days in this melodic number. Probably the most melodic song on the album. Nice use of atmosphere with the keyboard.

The keyboard wasn't really introduced into Candlemass until Chapter IV. More or less used as a backdrop. Had Messiah sang on Chapter IV I think it would've been much better. Not to knock on the previous singers, but Candlemass seemed to fade into oblivion after he left. Well, at least for me. Its too bad Messiah left the band again. No one was able to fill his shoes in the past, and it looks like they shouldn't make that mistake again. I look forward to hearing them team up with the powerful voice from Solitude Aeternus.

Well, at least they'll go out on a high note with this classic lineup. The last word has already been written about this album a thousand times, but I don't care. If you got this far then maybe you're interested in seeking out this album. I hope to one day see this revered with the classics. If you're unfamiliar with this band, then you can do no wrong with starting here. Try and find the Digipack with the bonus track on it. After that buy Nightfall and Epicus, then thank me later and buy me a beer.

Candlemass... Is Back! - 90%

NecroWraith, February 11th, 2007

‘Candlemass’ is back… and with the best album since 1989’s ‘Tales Of Creation.’ Honestly, I had both high hopes and doubts about this album. I wasn’t very psyched about the Candlemass releases after 1990, but here, Messiah Marcolin was on vocals once again. With him singing, what could go wrong? Fortunately, very little did go wrong.

The band is back to their old style, as could be heard on classics such as ‘Nightfall’ and ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.’ The great catchy riffs are back, vocals amazing, and Marcolin’s voice didn’t seem to have weakened at all. The same power and commanding in his voice is still there, as are both the familiar and loved high-octave vocals, and some lower ones, which add more singing variety to the album than to the previous Candlemasses.

The riffs are back and (dare I say?) they’re better than ever. Great melodies, catchy rhythms, same heavy distorted noises as always. They remind me of classic Black Sabbath on this release more than on any other Candlemass, and manage to create the same unforgettable atmospheres as Iommi in classics like ‘Paranoid.’ The amazing production of this album makes this fact ever better. The guitars are perfectly mixed with the drums and vocals, and the bass on here is about as close to perfect as you can possibly get.

Choruses are also catchy as hell, sounding epic and legendary like always. Candlmass matured by miles, and that is clean on this album. Supplying with a lot more sophisticated songwriting than I ever anticipated, this was yet another good surprise for me. Every time you listen to this album, it grows on you some more, and you notice something fresh and new. This is one of those few albums I can put on repeat and listen through a couple times without starting to get bored.

The godfathers of Epic Doom metal definitely didn’t disappoint me with this release. If anything, my liking of this band doubled. Just when I didn’t think they had anything left in them, they managed to supply me with yet another pleasant surprise. Candlemass is back… and better than ever!!!

-Marcin C.

Golden maturity - 100%

Pegasus_wings, October 24th, 2006

How often does a band try something really fresh and innovative instead of copying the thrills of the past after a reunion? Some guys prefer not to release anything in the fear of destroying their legend (the original Black Sabbath), or they create something uninspired and unoriginal, with old and repetitive ideas and cliches in order to please their fans (Judas Priest).

That's not the case of Candlemass! Abandoning part of their early epic feeling and the religious, mythological, or fantasy themes they focus, for the first time in their history, on the drama of every-day life and agony. More doom than epic the new Candlemass sound darker than ever before. It seems that the change of Leif Edling's philosophical approach (he does not accept any metaphysical explanation about the human fate) affected the music itself. It is very interesting to hear the lyrics of "Born in a tank" for example, a song talking about a man buried in the fake safety of his home, being in fact imprisoned by the politics. No more devils or angels, no Satan or God, but just human beings...

Don't expect the thunderous enthusiasm of previous albums such as "Nightfall". What someone should expect from some guys around 45 is maturity, not youthfull energy. Candlemass are more sophisticated than ever before, with the intention to speak out the truth. The result of this effort is breathtaking. Although Messiah does not use all his vocal range (like his singing during '80's), he prefers to insist on darker vocals that fit perfectly the mood of this album. The other players have retained their dexterity and good shape and, most of all, they have chemistry. You cannot pay attention to the good work of a single musician, but to the whole music in general. It gives me the impression that not even a single note is unnecessary.

I strongly believe that this album is their best. I didn't realise it at the first time I heard it, but after some more careful listenings I understood why the best albums are the growers, not the instant thrills. When you want to express something deep and original, there is no way to make it easier, in order to be understood by the idiots or the lazy ones.

Candlemass is back and in a big way - 90%

corpse_are_gay, April 24th, 2005

2005 is really shaping up to be a promising year for the Doom Metal genre. It seems that numerous Doom Metal bands are making a coincidental yet seemingly unified presence that just might over shadow the saturated genres of metal markets such as Power Metal, Death Metal and Black Metal. With releases from Draconia, Swallow The Sun, November's Doom, soon to be releases from Trouble and a Black Sabbath reunion tour, we now find Candlemass adding something to the mix.....

Back in 2003, I reviewed Candlemass' "Doomed For Live-Reunion 2002". This release was just one step in a process that would lead to something I had hoped for back when I wrote the review......a new studio album!

"Candlemass" is the band's first release through Nuclear Blast and first studio album with Messiah Marcolin back on vocals since "Tales of Creation" in 1990. "Candlemass" was recorded in part at Polar studios (ABBA, GENESIS, LED ZEPPELIN) in Stockholm, Sweden.

Well Candlemass fans, the new release is their best effort since "Tales of Creation". This album does a fine job of mixing slower pounding, more doomy styled songs with some mid-tempo ones. You'll find classic tinges of Candlemass all throughout the album, as well as a few surprises. In many ways, this album gives the listener the feeling of such Candlemass classics as "Nightfall" and "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus".

The production is very good. The recording and mix between the drums and the bass provide an excellent, low range response that gives the songs some much needed bottom end. something that seemed to be missing on previous Candlemass albums. The trademark Sabbathy guitar riffs are as heavy and catchier than ever. Some keys are used but they are very low in the mix and seem to be there to add some atmosphere and highlights. And what would a Candlemass album be without the vocals of Messiah Marcolin, the one ingredient that really gives this band an identity and whose voice is much more dynamic now when compared to his work in the past.. He uses the full range of his vocals and doesn't over use is throttle capabilities. He sings with as much power and clarity today as he did back in the late 80's, early 90's. He also adds some interesting vocal styles unlike he has on previous Candlemass albums. He goes from very low ranges to his more familiar higher octaves. Such an example of a song in which these characteristics are noticeable on is "Copernicus".

"Black Dwarf" is one of the more up tempo songs that reminds me of a track like "Gallow's End". And the riffs in "Witches" are reminiscent of "Black Stone Wielder". "Born In A Tank" brings back feelings of "A Cry From The Crypt". "The Man Who Fell from the Sky" is an instrumental.

This album is a must have. I already have four to six albums that are potentials for my 2005 Top 15 and this one is no exception. Candlemass is back and in a big way! Let the Doom Dancing begin!

Buried alive like a dog! - 95%

well_of_souls, March 29th, 2005

This is my first review so I'll try to do a damn good job. If you cant tell, I'm a huge Candlemass fan and this is been something I've been looking forward to for a while. It has been 16 years since there has been a studio album with vocalist extra-ordinare Messiah Marcolin. Would it be as good as other Candlemass albums or a sad reunion album?

Black Dwarf: My cd has the intro and this song put together. I was floored when I heard this song for the first time. It seems like Messiah and Co. havent been separated for 16 years. Some excellent guitar work from Johansson and Bjorkman on this track.

Seven Silver Keys: This sorta seems like something off Epicus Doomicus Metalicus; the whole fantasy lyric deal. Not that there is anything wrong with that. This song is a killer. It has a really slow and plodding feeling to it, another Candlemassaterpeace.

Assassin of the Light: The opening riff has a really evil, eerie feeling to it and I love it. The song kinda reminds me of Trouble for some reason, maybe just the title. Marcolin manages to continue to belt it out as in days of old. I still cant believe these guys havent achieved international superstardom.

Copernicus: Named after the famed astronomer, Copernicus has a nice beginning. A really slow and plodding riff and then dead silence. Then Messiah begins to sing in a haunting way and then that riff picks up like it never ended. This song kinda reminds me of "Black Sabbath" with the whole heavy, dreary riff and then the vocals come, except I think Messiah Marcolin sounds a whole hell of a lot better than Ozzy Osbourne. Another great track.

The Man Who Fell From the Sky: eh, the only reason I gave this album a 95 is because of this track. It's an instrumental, but it is nowhere near as good as "Into The Unfathomed Tower," the ultimate Candlemass instrumental. TMWFFS kinda bores me.

Witches: The actual first song I heard off the album. A friend of mine had this and sent it to me, thus prompting me to get a hold of this album. I love the riff, Messiah's singing, etc. My second favorite song on the album. Contains one of my favorite lyrics "leave this fucking place!" Really outta place, but come on its Candlemass!

Born In A Tank: Imagine if Saint Vitus and Alice in Chains had a child and wrote a song. This is what it would sound like. The lyrics are very strong as is the chugging riff, which make this song my favorite. This would make an interesting music video because of the visuals the song gives me.

Spellbreaker: this is why Candlemass is associated with epic doom metal. Another great track, going 7 minutes and 2 seconds with plenty of tempo shifts. The solo is quite nice and the fade out at the end is a nice touch.

The Day and the Night: Has a dark, blusey feeling at first which I like and more Messiah singing along with it. From there it picks up with his legendary opera crooning and the tourtise-paced riffs. Around 3:55, the song begins to pick up and by 4:15 it gets heavy. What a fucking way to end an album. Almost as good as A Sorcerer's Pledge. "I'm lost in the dark..." priceless

Mars and Volcanos (digipack bonus): A nice little bonus for Candlemass fans. This is a more quick pased song than I'm used to from them, but a great change nonetheless. The last 45 seconds is a nice little display of Jahn Lindt's drum work.

What can I say? Candlemass still has it. The first studio album with Messiah Marcolin in 16 years is a damn fine one. Other than the so/so instrumental, this is a great piece of doom metal. One of my favorite albums of the year and it is a great way to showcase how talented Candlemass is. In a day and age where all this metalcore bullshit seems to be taking over, I'm glad to see guys like Candlemass sticking to their guns and showing how much more talented they are. A 95 out of 100 for Messiah and Company.