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Embrace the doom! - 88%

caspian, October 30th, 2008

Not having heard this band before this release I was expecting their brand of ”epic doom” to be some super intricate thing full of incredibly long songs and heaps of narration and whatnot. Shame this isn’t as grandiose and epic as I was expecting but it’s still a good surprise; I expected a doom take on Summoning but instead I got a doom take on doom; big riffs that are slow and mostly good combined with vocals that are also slow and always good.

First thing that strikes you (past the “damn this is a really annoying intro riff”) when the real music comes in is that is really heavy. Monolithic, huge, crushing, dense, etc. etc. It’s hard to describe the guitar tone in anything but the usual doom cliches; suffice to say that the guitar tone weighs a great deal. Moreso then any other genre doom metal needs big guitars, and the producer of this record really understood that, pushing the guitars up in the mix, yet still keeping everything else well placed. ‘Course, while massive guitar tone will carry an album a fair way it won’t make it good; and while the songs don’t quite match the production on show here they’re still real solid and make this whole thing a pretty enjoyable experience.

A simple enough description of the stuff on offer here would be a more misanthropic Black Sabbath. Riffs of the dense and heavy variety come in, the singer- who was a really nice middle range voice, perfect for the music- rages about satan and the human race, a solo or perhaps a mid tempo section comes and goes, and Candlemass resume the misery and hate. Honestly I really wasn’t expecting this album to be as dark as it is- I guess mostly listening to the Sleep style of stoner/doom has made me forget just how cheerless this kind of stuff can be. Doom is serious business for these guys, and that attitude helps Candlemass pull off some riffs that otherwise shouldn’t work- the good ol’ one semitone riff in “Destroyer”, the sort of pointless nothing intro to “Man of Shadows”- they would normally invite some sort of snigger from me, but I swear I can hear these guys going “come on, just try to laugh at it”, at which point I shut up and resume my equally serious listening.

Don’t get me wrong though- this album doesn‘t get by on it‘s vibe, this is a good album with lots of good moments. Pick a track, any track, and there’ll be a heap of massive riffs ready to do a big, onyx-coloured shit on you. Never has “We set sail in July” sounded as depressing as it does in “Clearsight”; a real huge mid tempo brawler of a tune that makes you want to go out and knife yuppies. “Of Stars and Smoke” is probably the most typically sad type doom thing here, not as angry as the other songs, perhaps, but it’s still huge and has a really nice solo- as do most songs really- the noodling’s always tuneful and economical. There’s a sweet little breakdown on offer here too, made all the more effective by the fact that it hardly happens anywhere else in the album. “Embracing the Styx“ is probably the highlight, though- a really fine intro/verse riff, super heavy and really eerie, all supported by some fine drumming and subtle ivory jingles. It‘s probably the best song on here, and it‘s heavy it‘s fucking heavy. I love how the drummer speeds things up a little bit once in a while in this song, makes the thing seem strangely frantic and, I dunno heavy. Instant doom classic, for serious. Overall I can’t really say there’s a huge amount of variety here- Candlemass plug the slow riffs, the vocalist is depressed and sings with a lot of passion, there’s some mid tempo sections. However this is the kind of music that’s best when it’s simple and straight-forward in it’s approach. Like many things about doom, Candlemass understand this.

The slowness and lethargy on offer here has been executed rather well; Candlemass wanted to give you a dose of riff filled misery and they certainly succeed. If you like doom, get this, as it’s a very good album. Simple as that.