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I must say, I expected nothing from this album to be honest. I had never listened to Candlemass before, only heard their name. But I do enjoy doom metal, so I decided to pick up their latest release to see what the fuss was all about. I expected slow, depressive music, like for example Reverend Bizarre, and to a certain extent I kind of got it, but I also got a kind of modern speed/powermetal, especially from Robert.
The overall sound of the instruments on the album is that of thickness and power. We're not talking BLS or Crowbar here, but a kind of distorted sound common to the genre. And Robert Lowe's voice shows many different sides in the songs on the album. It can go from lurking, sly and evil to the more theatric high-pitch of speed/powermetal (think a more downtuned Bruce Dickinson).
Leif's bass adds the power needed to really give the distorted guitars of Lars and Mappe a big boost. This combination of distortion and power works very well both in the faster and slower songs. The structure of the riffing is not too complicated, sometimes erupting into pretty groovy parts, and in the midst of all the rawness comes several solos to fulfill the songs.
However, sometimes it feels like Jan's drumming get's lost in all the heaviness. It's constantly there, but sometimes seem to drown in the powerfull guitarwork. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it makes you focus on the power of the songs, which in itself pulls the music forwards on it's own.
As for the lyrics, they mostly deal with evil, horror and madness. Not overly poetic (the kind of lyrics I usually prefer), instead it feels like Robert is telling you a story with every song, a good story too I might add. The verses are usually sung with that whispering, evil voice of his, while during the climax he usually changes it to his more high-pitched voice, surely inspired by King Diamond, Michael Kiske and the likes. Both voices work very well, and fits the albums image perfectly.
My favorite songs on the album must be "Demon of the Deep", a slow paced song with lyrics that no doubt should make you think of Cthulhu, if you're familiar with Lovecraft's mythical sea creature, and "House of 1000 Voices", a twisted tale about ghost children in a burnt down orphanage.
Overall, this is a modern doom metal album with good production value, heavy distortion and excellent singing and good storytelling lyrics.
Candlemass return for their 2nd album with new vocalist Robert Lowe (Solitude Aeturnus), a rocking out affair with a number of faster paced songs, yet still cogent of their strength for resounding, slower gothic crush. Perhaps it's the vocals, or the songwriting, or both, but I was left less than inspired by this record. In fact it's probably the worst Candlemass album since the mediocre Chapter VI. Boring enough that a second and third listen were increasingly difficult, as any errant distraction (a fly buzzing past, or a car) could instantly pull me away.
Robert Lowe does not have a bad voice, it's sharp and crisp, and certainly he has the repertoir and qualifications for this duty. But his voice is just...so plain for this band, lacking the powerful operatic theatrics of Messiah or even the chagrin of Björn Flodkvist. He can hit all the necessary notes but I just don't feel any power here; crucial for effective doom to mine ears. He's not helped by the songs, the faster tracks like "If I Ever Die" and "Dead Angel" are forgettable, and it's only on a few of the slower tracks that I felt my attention span increase. The strings in "The Bleeding Baroness" are nice. "Demon of the Deep" is a pretty good track overall which recalls the old days and feel of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. "Clouds of Dementia" is another of the better offerings, a crushing lament.
Death Magic Doom isn't bad, it's just not up to snuff with the band's past works. I actually quite enjoyed King of the Grey Islands, even with Lowe singing, so this is somewhat of a disappointment. It's unlikely the band could manifest another Nightfall or Ancient Dreams, but I shall continue to mourn for those days.
Candlemass are a band who have perfected their image; from the engraved-looking cover to the fatalistic self-immortalization of 'If I Ever Die', everything bleeds Baroque but cool. Being 25 years old, and having enjoyed a loyal following throughout vocalist changes and a hiatus, they have certainly earned a sense of self-assuredness.
While Candlemass could confidently trudge forward with another King Of The Grey Islands, Death Magic Doom sees the band, admirably, pushing themselves creatively even after so many years. The opener 'If I Ever Die' is a natural sequel to the crushing 'Lucifer Rising' from last year's EP, twinning urgent riffing with unmistakable groove. Lowe's howls of "If I ever die/ the stars will fall from the sky/ the gods will mourn me and cry" are suggestive of the band's own cocksure immortality. As if to reinforce their own imperturbed steadfastness, Candlemass then execute a slow, crawling Doom metal song as if the '90s never happened. When the guitars begin their menacing, quiet strum in the verse section you almost expect Lowe to start singing "What is this that stands before me?..."
Candlemass continue referencing both their past and present with 'The Bleeding Baroness', which sounds like a Gothic rewrite of 'Solitude.' The vocal lines are memorable enough, but by far the best Doom to be had is the album's centrepiece, 'House Of Thousand Voices.' The song sits amongst all the time-travelling as a sturdy offering of ageless Doom, Johansson trading in his purring drone from other slower tracks for catchy, coruscating riffs very likely to embed themselves in your head. An absolute highlight, which combines the spirit of the '80s with the aesthetics of the present day even better than owning an iPhone but never washing your jeans and wearing a poodle haircut.
With Candlemass having covered all bases so thoroughlyin the first three tracks of the album, the remaining songs (other than 'House Of Thousand Voices') inevitably suffer from diminishing returns. Although there are some nice ideas going on in 'Demon Of The Deep', the meandering guitar arrangements and Lowe's proggy vocal section toward the end serve to further disjoint an already eclectic collection of songs. Although it starts with a promising riff, 'Dead Angel' is let down by a weak performance by Jan Lindh on drums and Lowe's chorus, which sounds far too clean amongst his performances elsewhere. Credit is due the band for doing their best to avoid repeating themselves, but there is a thin line between experimentation and leaving some tracks feeling unfinished.
As a second album with Robert Lowe, Death Magic Doom represents a solid continuation for the band. There are a couple of songwriting slip-ups, but they are done with the best intentions, and the band themselves are sounding impeccable. It still crushes My Dying Bride's effort this year, and bodes well for the future of the Lowe-Edling partnership.
So, right, its taken me a bit of time to think how to write this review of Candlemass' new album, "Death Magic Doom", album no.10 for a band that has come and gone over their long career. One is not allowed to label themselves a fan of doom without at least admiration towards the Swedes early back catalogue, which for me is not a problem as I LOVE their first four albums, but listening to their three albums this decade since reformation has always tended to leave me a bit cold. Why is that?
"Death Magic Doom" represents the second album featuring Robert Lowe's (Solitude Aeturnus) pipes, who as expected has proven to be an admirable replacement for Messiah Marcolin, and another point on the board of why C-mass are the kings of epic doom metal. However for me, that reputation was made in the 80's and has hardly been topped up since. You see my problem is that I miss their 80's sound, their 80's song structure and I whisper this quietly, Messiah. Lowe, and Solitude Aeturnus, are brilliant, make no mistakes, but whether through production or the quality of the riffs and songs themselves recent Candlemass material too often feels stagnant and blunted and an example of where better technology does not equal better sound. Many songs ended up feeling quite samey through the lack of clarity that defined some truly brilliant albums many years ago. Yes yes I should probably wake up and smell the date but can anyone really argue with me that the sound of "Death Magic Doom" or 2007's "King Of The Grey Islands" is more emotional and interesting than "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" (1986) or "Nightfall" (1987)?
The fact that, excluding the vocal department, the band's three 21st Century albums don't really seem to have evolved doesn't aid my appreciation of them, however this is still Candlemass, and Leif Edling, Mr. Doom if ever there was one. "Death Magic Doom" for all my qualms still has some bitching (did I just say that?) songs. "If I Ever Die" is an uptempo start before the first signs of crushing doom emerge in the appropriately titled "Hammer of Doom", one of those that would most fit an early Candlemass classic due to it's morose downtrodden nature. From here the speed jostles contentedly between crushing doom, mid-paced interludes, and as is their nature these days, a fair amount of faster bounding moments too. Not my favourite those, but their effect is clear: they add a distinct amount of groove that certainly works better live. "Demon Of The Deep", through it's incorporation of subtle organ/keyboard work produces the best individual moment of the album, and where Lowe's vocals shine through the strongest, in a similar way to the 'angelic' voices in "House Of 1000 Voices".
Overall, you'll see I have mixed feelings about this release. There are some great moments and it stands up strongly against other recent albums in the doom field but I am realising my wish for 'classic' Candlemass will remain just a wish, and probably for the best too. Leif Edling will always know how to write great doom and really I should not question him, so enjoy this work of great 21st Century doom yourself. <
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Before this album came out, it was announced by bassist Leif Edling that this would be the band's best album since the classic "Nightfall." Given that I'm a big fan of Candlemass's 2005 self-titled album; I took that statement with a grain of salt. While this is not on the same level of the band's stuff with Messiah Marcolin, it's definitely a great album and demonstrates the continuing success of the band's new life with vocalist Robert Lowe.
In terms of the songwriting and musical style, this album appropriately picks up where 2007’s “King of the Grey Islands” left off and expands upon the elements that helped make that album successful. The band as a unit seems to be more focused in its delivery, the various guitar riffs manage to keep all of the tempo changes interesting, the bass manages to stand out nicely on some spots and even gets a little solo during “House of 1000 Voices,” and Lowe sounds a little more comfortable this time around as his delivery ranges from quiet segments to desperate howls and wails. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that this is different than anything on “Nightfall” and sounds unlike anything else that the band has ever released.
I also must say that I particularly enjoy the lyrics on this album. While the lyrics on “King of the Grey Islands” offered several interesting interpretations and a mysterious overall storyline, the lyrics on “Death Magic Doom” benefit from some interesting subject matter and a lack of the swearing that seemed to pop up on the band's last few albums (Not that I'm some kind of Tipper Gore fanatic, "fuck" and "shit" just aren't creative words...). Highlights include the all-out depression of the awesomely titled “Hammer Of Doom” (Too bad they couldn’t use it for the album’s title. The one they went with is somewhat awkward…), the Lovecraftian themes on “Demon of the Deep,” and the intriguing ghost story that appears on “House of 1000 Voices.”
While this is shaping up to be one of my favorite albums of 2009, I do admit that this album has its share of flaws. The music may be pretty unique as a while, but there are a few derivative moments here and there. The main riff on “House of 1000 Voices” bares a vague resemblance to the beloved “Bewitched” and the last two tracks remind one of the mid-tempo tracks on “KOTGI” such as “Of Stars and Smoke.” Speaking of mid-tempo, I also find that the band’s approach seems to work the best when they stick to slower tempos. “If I Ever Die” is a pretty solid song, but its faster tempo does make it a strange opener and somewhat out of place when compared to the album’s other tracks. “Hammer Of Doom” probably would’ve been a more fitting introduction…
All in all, this is a strong album that shows a further evolution in Candlemass’ sound. Recommended to doom metal fans everywhere!
1) The bands sounds more comfortable this time around
2) The songwriting is improved when compared to the last album
3) The lyrics are pretty cool
1) A few derivative moments
2) "If I Ever Die" does sound out of place, even if it is a good song
My Current Favorites:
"Hammer of Doom," "The Bleeding Baroness," "Demon of the Deep," "House of 1000 Voices," and "Dead Angel"
Candlemass. The name should be enough to explain how incredibly important this band has made on the doom metal genre. Sure, Trouble came out with Psalm 9 two years prior to Candlemass releasing Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, however no band outside of Iommi and friends have made a greater impact on doom metal. Leif Edling, the mastermind behind the band, has cemented himself over and over again as one of the greatest songwriters in heavy metal. Present in every lineup, he has been able to take whoever is around him and churn out some high quality doom metal.
An now we have Death Magic Doom, the third album since the reunion of the original lineup and the second with new doom drone Robert Lowe manning the vocals. King of the Grey Islands was a very good record, however Leif and the gang have really turned it up a notch with DMD. With Lowe being cemented as the long term replacement for the departed Messiah Marcolin, Leif was free to go outside of the box more, overcoming KOTGI's one flaw: lack of Candlemass’ typical doomy experimentation. With classics such as "Solitude", "Under the Oak", and "At the Gallows End" gracing the Candlemass back catalogue, KOTGI just seemed a little stale after a few listens.
DMD has solved that problem, kicking off with the speedy (yes, speedy) "If I Ever Die". Lowe really steals the show on this song, letting us know that Candlemass without Messiah is just as good as ever. The opening riff is an instant classic, one that has been stuck in my head almost continuously since I heard it. The obvious middle break in the song is followed by an absolutely fantastic lead courtesy of Mr. Lars Johansson. If I Ever Die is followed by the aptly titled "Hammer of Doom", which plods along at a slow and plodding pace typical of Candlemass
Then comes the album's other instant classic, "The Bleeding Baroness". This is it, this is the pinnacle of 21st century doom metal. As much as I lauded "If I Ever Die", this takes it out back and lays it to rest. "The Bleeding Baroness" starts out with the standard Candlemass Depression, then kicks it up a notch until the chorus begins. This is the best Candlemass chorus I have heard since "Samarithan". Doomtastic, the best track on the album, no doubt.
"House of A Thousand Vultures" and "My Funeral Dreams" are the best of the rest, both of which harkens back to the days of Candlemass old. Both could have easily been included in any of the first four albums without feeling out of place. The other four tracks, while good tracks, aren’t anything to write home about. Pretty standard Candlemass fare.
The production on the album is absolutely fantastic, as depressing and doomified (sp?) as anything I've heard in a long time. The guitars have a nice crunch to them, while the bass is audible, though definitely runs along with the guitars in many places. The drums are a little buried, but the playing is tight and everything we have become accustomed to courtesy of Mr. Lindh. Lowe's vocals do exactly what doom metal vocals are meant to do: soar above everything and add that extra element which makes everything so depressingly catchy, whatever that means.
Death Magic Doom is without a doubt the best thing that Candlemass has released since Tales of Creation, and well worth picking up. Leif has done it again, but his contribution was never in doubt.
I have to admit, I didn't think that Candlemass could come close to matching the magic of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus or Nightfall, but with King of the Grey Islands and Death Magic Doom, they have a sort of new life as a band. Getting Rob Lowe from Solitude Aeturnus to replace Messiah Marcolin was a great move. Rob sounds even more at ease on Death Magic Doom than he did on King of the Grey Islands, and his voice is utilized more fully on the album. They basically took all the good stuff from the previous album and improved upon it. Not only that, but the guitar and drum sound (and really, the overall sound) isn't compressed as it was for both King of the Grey Islands and the Lucifer Rising EP.
I have to admit, I was not a big fan of the Lucifer Rising EP. The two new tracks were okay, but I felt like they could've easily been leftovers from King of the Grey Islands (that didn't make the cut). But Death Magic Doom is a masterpiece of doom. I only have a few bones to pick with the album, so I may as well get them out of the way. The only really big one is on the first track, “If I Ever Die”. The only part of this song I don't like is how it builds and builds, then all of the band quits playing towards the middle and Rob Lowe sings a vocal line over the silence. He sings it fine, it's just that after all that building, I think it kind of fell flat there. I'm not sure I like it as the album opener, either, but I am at a loss for where to place it in amongst the rest of the album. Anyway, the other bone I have to pick with the album is that, as far as I can tell, Lief Edling is a bit buried in the mix! I like to hear the bass mixed in a little higher in doom metal; it adds a lot to the music.
“Hammer of Doom” is a classic track because it starts out as quintessential doom, and then it has the tempo change like we've seen from Black Sabbath's tracks Heaven & Hell or their self-titled track from the first album. “The Bleeding Baroness” and “House of 1000 Voices” are my favorites from the album, namely for both of their amazing chorus lines. Especially on the latter song, where Rob Lowe's voice just sounds haunting and the guitar part is nothing short of fantastic. And Lars Johansson's soloing on the latter track is probably my favorite of his ever. I really hope they play these three tracks live on any upcoming tours they do, along with “My Funeral Dreams”, which is the album closer – a strong closer with yet another great chorus part right in the middle of the song.
That being said, “Clouds of Dementia”, “Dead Angel”, and “Demon of the Deep” are all okay, but they aren't as memorable as the other tracks I have discussed here. The drumming is good, as usual, and the whole band delivers, but I'd say that Lars and Lowe put in the extra effort that put this album over the top (I'm sure Lief did too, as I am positive he has a heavy hand in the songwriting process). The lyrics are pretty good too, with Rob Lowe continuing his melancholy, saddening style that was earlier seen on Solitude Aeturnus – Alone (though nowhere near as dark as that album, IMO). He must be one of the greatest voices in doom metal, if not metal in general.
Definitely pick this one up. Even if you didn't like King of the Grey Islands, I encourage you to give this one a shot. And if you liked King of the Grey Islands, then I am sure you're going to love this one! I'm just sad that I wasn't able to get my hands on the special edition with the bonus track “Lucifer Rising” and the 25 minute DVD of footage about their studio work and last tour; I have no doubt that it would have been exciting. Anyway, this is a release not to miss out on, fellow doomsters. This one sets the bar very high for any new epic doom metal to come. Doom on.
“I saw the execution of my tomorrow, saw it and bowed
in the theater of hellfire; the inferno is now.
I am lost again. I lean against the purgatory gates.
To ease my suffering, you’re offering to unlock my fate.”
From the snowscapes of Sweden, the legendary Candlemass are back with a vengeance. With little expectation, the masters of Doom Metal have unleashed a monolithic opus worthy of the title “Death Magic Doom” (perhaps a gibe at Metallica’s “Death Magnetic”).
The opening hymn “If I Ever Die” launches abruptly into the band’s newer, more aggressive style characteristic of their eponymous 2003 rebirth. The instantly memorable first riff sets a higher standard, maintained all the way to the album’s conclusion. Despite their doomy classification, Candlemass aren’t afraid to pick up the pace. This creates dynamic contrasts that diversify the album’s moods. Such creative energy combined with a thick and crushing production creates a relentless showcase welcome to the modern listener. Gone are the atmosphere and reverbed-to-the-max snare drums of “Nightfall.” But this departure doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten their roots and their diehard fans.
This change is most evident in the vocal department. Rob Lowe has at last settled into his new role, matching the music’s more abrasive approach. Messiah Marcolin’s operatics better suited the epic style of the 80’s albums, but seemed out of place on the self-titled album. Lowe, on the other hand, never overpowers the instruments, finding his place within the music rather than in counterpoint to it. Still, he sings his heart out, running the gamut of emotions, from sadness to hatred to malevolence. Though an objectively weaker vocalist, he sounds more human.
And Lowe isn’t the only musician who gives it his all. Jan Lindh’s drumwork is marvelous, ranging from triumphal marches, to rocking grooves to, well, downright doominess! Even after 25 years, Leif Edling perfects the art of the guitar riff from the bass on up. The Dantean lyrical themes, demonstrated at this review’s opening, are nothing original, but appropriate for a band whose works are as timeless (to a true Metal fan) as the Divine Comedy itself.
And that leads us to songwriting. “Death Magic Doom” shines brightest in its choruses, where the time shifts and the anthems ring. This is most apparent in “The Bleeding Baroness” and especially “Dead Angel,” where Lowe, at a haunting pitch, is in dialogue with the lead guitar. One of Candlemass’ classic strengths is the subtle use of synths and samples, here with the hellish bells chiming in the crusher “Hammer of Doom.” All these unique qualities aside, this is a Heavy Metal tour de force.
With this release, their best since 1989’s “Tales of Creation,” the rebirth of Candlemass has reached its triumphant climax, reasserting the band’s place at the pinnacle of Doom Metal and, in the shadow of Black Sabbath, one of the greatest Metal bands of all time.
A few years back, when I first heard that Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus would be taking over the vocals duties in Candlemass following Messiah's departure, I was ecstatic. Don't get me wrong, I love Messiah's vocals, but Lowe easily has him beat in my eyes. So I picked up their first release with Lowe, "King of the Grey Islands", with great expectations. And those expectations were met and exceeded.
And here we are, two years later, and we have a new Candlemass album, the second with Robert handling the vocals. I had been waiting to hear this album ever since I first heard the song samples a few months back. Those were fantastic, and so I had the same hopes for the album in it's entirety. And those hopes were not in vain, as this CD slays.
Opening with another faster somg. "If I Ever Die", the album kicks into gear with the riffs and melodies that you've come to expect from Candlemass. Lowe's vocals soar over the guitars, sounding more organic here than on the previous album. After that first song, the rest of the album is pretty much straight forward doom that Candlemass know how to do. "Hammer of Doom" is a slow, brooding number, reminiscent of Sabbath's self-titled track, getting a bit more up-tempo near the end. "Demon of the Deep" opens softly, telling a story about a kind of sea creature at the depths of the ocean, before escalating the tempo at the end to make a fantastic finish. One of the album's main highlights, "House of a Thousand Voices" lumbers away for a good seven to eight minutes, and wouldn't sound out of place on perhaps "Nightfall" or "Ancient Dreams". "Dead Angel" is a good song, but doesn't quite live up to those that came before it (it is catchy as hell, though). And "Clouds of Dementia" and "My Funeral Dreams finish up the album, the latter not quite reaching the epicness of "Embracing the Styx", but still a fantastic song in it's own right.
The guitars sound as good as ever, the songwriting is inspired, and the lyrics reek of doom. What more could you ask for? Buy this album immediately.
Sweden’s heavy artillery called Candlemass is here again to deliver some Death, Magic, and some pure Doom metal. The second with the fantastic singer Robert Lowe! The bandleader, bassist and songwriter Leif Edling has stated that this is “the best Candlemass album since Nightfall”. A brave statement, and in my opinion not a statement that is spelled reality, but the fact still remains though that “Death Magic Doom” is a fantastic album. Exactly as expected on beforehand, they are continuing to swing the hammer of doom with ease.
Let me first just make it clear that the band is in top form, great performances all over! The heavy, hauling riffs from guitarist Mappe Björkman are lining up one after another, the shrieking guitarsolos from Lasse Johansson, the “Demon of the deep”-bassplayer, Leif does a solid work in the groundwork with his bass, and drummer Jan plays with great feeling as usual. On top of all this, we have the brightest star shining on this album, the before mentioned singer Robert Lowe! He did already on 2007’s “King of the Grey Islands” show that he was the absolutely right choice to take over after Messiah. I did then say that Robert is the best vocalist that have ever sung in this band. On this album, Robert is making it even more concrete. He can do so much with his voice, and still fit in perfectly with the music so frighteningly good. He’s singing with much variation, in all these variating songs and tempos, and is adding a spooky feeling in general to the whole album. One of his best works in his career!
But why isn’t this the best album since “Nightfall”, then? Everything seems to be in order, right? No, because sadly...this album contains one bad song. Yes, that’s actually true! It is titled “Dead Angel”. Sadly, that song is the worst song this band has done since at least the reunion, and I was surprised that Leif could write such a bad song nowadays. Fast, grinding verses (for being C-mass) that really doesn’t do anything, and a very melodic chorus with some cheese threwn in. This song is very diverse from the other ones on the album, and for being Candlemass too at all. It is the “ugly duckling” of the bunch...so it’s not a successful experiment from Leif. But except for that lowdown, at least 6 other doom-gems are delivered. “House of 1000 Voices” with it’s awesome creepy atmosphere, chorus and the album’s best guitar solo is also the best track on here. Almost 8 minutes of perfection. The variating and strong-chorused “The Bleeding Baroness”, the sinister “Demon of The Deep”, the slow and heavy as hell “Hammer of Doom”, the uptempo starter “If I Ever Die” with it’s great riffs and melodies, and the ending doom & gloom-song “My Funeral Dreams” are all awesome ones too. “Clouds of Dementia” is also a good one, but slightly weaker than the greater bunch.
The production is better than the hugely compressed sound of the last C-mass album, even if this one is also a bit compressed. But especially the drums sounds a lot better on here. The guitars also have a rawer and heavier sound, which makes it more pleasant to listen to this album production/sound-wise. But:
Despite that, the production, “Death Magic Doom” doesn’t really reach the same height as it’s dark predecessor (and their best album since the re-union), “King of the Grey Islands”. This album is not far away, but the song “Dead Angel” crushes the big picture a bit. But as i’ve said, this is still a awesome record, and has a strong chance to be the best album of 2009.
3 best songs: “House of 1000 Voices” - “The Bleeding Baroness” - “Hammer of Doom”