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Stranded without music and with a riff from the excellent 'Ancient Dreams' pounding insistently through my head, I ducked into a CD shop and came out with Dactylis Glomerata. I'd never listened to the album before and while I knew it wouldn't stack up to such awesome stuff as 'Cry from the Crypt' or 'Epistle 81', I was curious to see how it compared against Abstrakt Algebra 'II' and other such Lief Edling material.
Well, it was a huge disappointment. The album largely consists of inferior takes of Abstrakt Algebra songs, burdened with an ill-fitted heaviness that Edling's (initially thoroughly apologetic, later brazenly defensive) liner notes suggest was imposed as a condition of the music's release. The riffs are boring and the songs seem cheaply built around a binary structure that leaves them over-familiar nearly as soon as they've begun. Of course we all understand that it was impossible to retain Messiah Marcolin but the vocals here are really dire - monotonous chanting with the occasional grate for emphasis. Some actual singing with even a hint of a possibility of a variation in pitch might have made this a sad, but listenable 60%.
'I Still See the Black' might have been passable, were it not for the shocking keyboard sound that heralds the transition from mordant (if mindless) doom drudgery to apparently some kind of faery picnic. Not impressed. Similarly, 'Dustflow' seems to promise some kind of epic acoustic voyage with a shreddin' denouement and instead we get an interminable buildup with no release and some very naive lyrics about children playing. No thankyou.
On 'Molotov', Edling's league of captive musicians creates what really should have been the new Candlemass sound (a good example of a tendency I can best describe as 'Road Warrior') before applying some godawful phase distortion that brings home the fact that yes, this is for whatever reason a terrible album.
I tend to view all latter-day Lief Edling - Candlemass projects with mixed feelings; Krux has its moments and new, Rob Lowe-era Candlemass, while by no means as intelligent as it once was, is okay. This album is execrable and I pity anyone who bought it without the bonus copy of the Abstrakt Algebra 'II' album which is at least interesting and original. Basically it's not Candlemass and it's a pity the band elected to allow its release as such.
There are a number of albums in which a band writes when they are not considered "In their prime." I often end up enjoying a majority of these albums, and Dactylis Glomerata is no exception. Though how this came to be known as the weakest Candlemass album bewilders me. Perhaps that's because this isn't just Candlemass. Dactylis Glomerata features mother fucking Michael Amott from Carnage, and that alone makes them a super-group in my book. Unlike the usual wandering focus of most doom songs, the Swedish death influence keeps this album nice and chuggy, low, and groovy on every single track. Most of the doom mongers would likely disagree with me when I say that simple, repetitive groove elements should collide with doom more often. I however think the evidence is clear that they should. Dactylis Glomerata, Monotheist, Nature Red in Tooth and Claw, Weight of Light, and countless hardcore influenced sludge albums such as the various works by Pelican demonstrate that simplicity and being primitive is doom's friend. Has the title of Candlemass not produced a number of legendary albums for the last 23 years? It has. What, then, should cause such a remarkable album to be overlooked? Is it the uninspiring cover art? Is it the weak pride and population of metalheads during the era in which this album was produced? Is it the lack of a truly operatic vocalist?
Though the vocals are not technical or operatic at all in comparison to former vocalist Messiah Marcolin, they are respectfully harmonic, and emotional. Upon it is layered a wall of abstract sounds, and tones, as the keyboards take up a lot of the instrumentation and mix in this album. Perhaps this is not only the most keyboard heavy album by Candlemass, but also the best performance on the keyboards by said band. Each of these sounds accompanies the progressive nature of Dactylis Glomerata. Ultimately, the alternative/progressive movement had a great impact on the writing on this album, or more specifically, the vocals.
This extremely successful progressive turn was carried through to the next album, From the 13th Sun which unfortunately does not feature Michael Amott. Thus, Dactylis Glomerata will forever remain a one of a kind album; a sound that will never be reproduced by Candlemass and probably nor by any doom band to come. I recommend this album to anyone who's heard more than a few doom songs. This isn't just for Candlemass fans only, though it's not the proper album to be introduced to them with. Anyone with a taste for primitive, soulful, raw doom metal is obligated to hear Dactylis Glomerata. This is probably one of the best albums to come out in the late 90's period. Candlemass will forever be remembered by me as one band who stood strong through the "dark ages" of metal. This all factors up to be worthy of the 99% mark, titling it the king album of 1998.
Dactylis Glomerata was Candlemass' comeback album after Leif Edling decided to break the band up after Chapter VI. Before Chapter VI was released, Candlemass's long-time vocalist, Messiah Marcolin, had left the band and Chapter VI was a very different kind of album from it's predeccors and, as almost always when band's music style changes, not as popular as their old albums. What attracted me to this album was the fact that the guitar spot on this album is handled by one Michael Amott.
As I said, Dactylis Glomerata isn't that much doom metal as the band's previous works. Sadly so, since Candlemass made some of the greatest doom metal albums back in the day. Most of the epic feeling is lost too. But there are other things making up for the lost things. For example the starting song 'Wiz' rocks more than most of the songs Candlemass did before (rocks as in being rocky, not as in being better than something else). It is also very catchy with a Black Sabbathesque main riff. The next song, 'I Still see the Black', leans more in the classic doomish Candlemass style as does 'Dustflow'. 'Karthago' combines a Black Sabbathish riff with a doom metal song and 'Abstrakt Sun' has a doomish feeling but mostly it sounds more like a rock song than metal. 'Apathy' is a moody 'Planet Caravan' meets 'Electric Funeral' and 'Ludocain God' is one again a rocking, a bit thrasy even, song in the vein of 'Wiz'. What I'm trying to say here is that the album is varied, a bit patchy even, but Leif Edling has managed to keep it all together.
Though most old Candlemass fans don't find the album good, it is still worth a shot. The material ranges from good to great (seems like Edling can't even compose anything poor) and it features some great guitaring by Michael Amott (don't expect anything like Arch Enemy or Carcass, more like Spiritual Beggars) and some interesting use of the keyboards by Carl Westholm. Mostly he stays in the background, proving some atmosphere adding effects while other times coming into the front with a scifi soundind lead (beginning of 'Dustflow'). Björn Flödkvist is a good singer too. He's no Messiah Marcolin when it comes to operatic vocals but he provides some good traditional vocalizing and he does have a lot of emotion in his voice.
The main reason why Dactylis Glomerata sounds so different from other Candlemass albums is that some of the songs were supposed to appear on the second Abstrakt Algebra (Edling's other band) album but MFN weren't going to sign them, though they were willing to sign Candlemass. So Edling hastily founded Candlemass again and took the drummer of Abstrakt Algebra with him. Surprisingly though Dactylis Glomerata doesn't sound like Abstrakt Algebra's self titled album. I still recommend to all fans of Black Sabbath and doom metal but if you want to check out Candlemass, I suggest either Nightfall or Epicus Doomicus Metallicus over this one.