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While I enjoy pretty much all Candlemass, there's something about this record that gets my dick harder, my neck sorer than all the others. The absence of knobhead Marcolin? The tendency towards spacier soundscapes? The bigger riffs? The drugged, hopeless dark atmosphere of the whole thing? The fresh way it constantly references Sabbath without being shit/derivative? Well, it's not hard to rationalise my love for the album.
The absence of Marcolin's probably the biggest plus, personally. Always tended to view him as a self important ass-bandit which is reflected in his vocal delivery; and while I normally loathe Ozzy impersonators Bjorn's really solid and deliver in pretty much every song, Cyclo-F being a bit of a cringe inducing exception. Droid's full of great vocal lines, and the quiet, haunting delivery of Tot (probably my favourite song here) brilliantly fits the uncharacteristically quiet, sombre verses. The dude doesn't blow my mind and isn't technically awesome but he gets the job done in every single song and never sounds out of place, never does crap songs about Samaritans or Seven Silver Keys, so on. So it's less "he's great" and more "he never sounds like shit"? Well, yeah. Dude is consistently solid...
...Which is good because the way I've always viewed Candlemass and most doom in general is that you're generally ignoring the vocals for the huge ass riffs and vast, crushing atmosphere, and here that's delivered with aplomb. The whole thing's far closer to Sabbath (might be the vocalist) than most Candlemass is, although it's still a good deal darker and more visceral than the forefathers' work. Obvious Electric Funeral influence in almost every riff; not a bad thing! Things do a get a bit close to plagarism with Elephant Star's "hey guys we think Symptoms of the Universe has a cool main riff", but no big deal; if you're gonna rip off a riff you might as well make it a really good one. So many good riffs and guitar work here in general; Droid's catchy as hell main riff, the lost-in-space drift of Tot, the slow crusher that's Galatea. Far moreso than ever before the band is content to take things down to very deep, quiet tones- I think they're really good at it. Arguably a bit simpler and more stripped back than most Candlemass, but still, quality.
The whole thing just sounds really natural and un-forced; it sounds like what Candlemass wanted to do at the time. Even the drum solo in Cyclo-F fits?! Plus, the new (well, I assume it's new, I haven't heard Dactylis) found infusion of spacey synth times, the occaisonal tendency to drift among the stars on seas of delay just fits so naturally, so well into their sound. I really dig the way Candlemass approached the increased spaciness; it's not always subtle (Droid) but everytime it's really noticeable it's to the obvious improvement of the song. It's one of those experiments where you really have to wonder why they didn't follow up on it? Because it works and it works damn well, this pitch black atmosphere full of the primal emptiness of outer space.
Overall it's just a really good album. Easy to lose yourself in. As good if not better than most of their works with Marcolin and Lowe; deserves listening to and buying if you're not a cheap bastard.