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Being a pretty massive fan of â€œKing of the Grey Islandsâ€ (Messiah? Whoâ€™s that?) I was pretty keen to get this. Itâ€™s hard to stuff up doom live; itâ€™s not terribly complex and the loud volume and typically cavernous live sound works great with the genre. In this new lâ€™il EP most of the new songs are good ,and the live tunes are great; thatâ€™s good enough for me.
I hope â€œLucifer Risingâ€ isnâ€™t off the new album. Itâ€™s got some decent enough riffs but the â€œLucifer, Lucifer, Lucifer riiising!!â€ hook is extremely irritating and gets repeated a few hundred times. I honestly didnâ€™t think it was possible for the new singer (whatever his name is) to put a foot wrong, but there you go! Turns out he isnâ€™t just a perfect doom front man android after all. The other two new/re-recorded songs sound basically exactly the same as the last album, which is to say that they are objectively awesome and will appeal to anyone with good taste in music. The simple but huge riffs, dark and oppressive atmosphere, massive guitar tones and brilliant world-weary vocals; all here and in good nick. Good doomy times are ahead, it seems.
But anyway, the live tunes. They pretty much nail everything thatâ€™s required for a live show; powerful production that doesnâ€™t sound like it was molested too much in the studio, a tight and powerful band, and a very loud and enthusiastic crowd. Not knowing much about the Candlemass discography I have no idea if itâ€™s a great setlist, if they play â€œall the hitsâ€ or whatever but the songs on it are pretty good so thereâ€™s no real complaints. Highlights would be â€œEmperor of the Voidâ€ for massive mid tempo riffs and a huge chorus, â€œBlack Dwarfâ€ for massive mid tempo riffs and a huge chorus, and â€œUnder the Oakâ€ for massive slow riffs and a huge chorus.
Itâ€™s a simple enough formula and itâ€™s good that Candlemass donâ€™t throw any spanners in the works; no bold explorations into left field minimalist jazz or whatever, just massive doom tunes. The riffs keep flowing but thereâ€™s enough variety between the songs so that you donâ€™t get terribly bored, the singer doesnâ€™t talk too much to the crowd, and the fans are passionate in their singing along but not too loud in the mix; honestly what more could you ask? Itâ€™s Candlemass, playing a good set and itâ€™s been represented well with a powerful, bassy recording job. Combine it with some solid new and kinda new tunes and thereâ€™s not really any reason why you shouldnâ€™t get this album.
I am a huge Candlemass fan and here is my impression about this EP.
Packaging: A HUGE disappointment. The CD version has a one-sheet liner that unfolds showing the same lame-looking graphic as the one on the front cover (why insult your fans twice?). There are no lyrics or photos or anything visually stimulating to look at. 0/5.
New Songs: Lucifer Rising is fast, straightforward, and simple; a nice little rocker but I find extremely light in substance. The band may have wanted to start off the EP with a fast number as they did with the last two LPs, but Black Dwarf and Emperor Of The Void are both much better songs. Lucifer Rising is utterly one-dimentional and BORING. It is mainly vocal-driven, with a weak riff behind it. The ¡§Lucifer, Lucifer, Lucifer Rising¡¨ chorus is repetitive to the point of absurd. 2/5.
White God is slower with a stronger riff but still average. I can¡¦t help but notice its mediocrity compared to the classic doom tracks off Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and Nightfall. It is seriously lacking good songwriting to making it timeless. 2/5.
Re-recorded Song: Demons Gate has this time around omitted the introductory soliloquy, being just a tad faster with a different solo. It¡¦s been over 20 years since the original version appeared on EDM, and the band has since a new drummer, lead guitarist, and vocalist, but I still prefer the original version for its dramatic and varied drumming and understated but heart-felt vocal work. Lanquist and Ekstrom were the stars of that version no question about it. I feel that Lowe¡¦s voice is too nasal and snarly for this song (in places I feel he tries too hard to be sinister) and I just find Lindh¡¦s drumming lack the needed intensity and variety to keep this long song engaging. 3/5.
Live Tracks: You get to experience that the old classic tracks sound like with Lowe singing them on concert stage. They are nothing spectacular if you are used to hearing the same songs from the other live albums and DVDs. You will hear some banters between Lowe and the audience and a lot of crowd noise and sing-alongs, which I supposed are acceptable as live recordings. I also don¡¦t find Lowe¡¦s voice carry as well as Messiah, although he can certainly hit the high notes just as well if not better than the mad monk. 4/5.
Production: Drums and bass sound a little weak as if lacking tone center. Good balance of vocal (not too loud) against the guitars (great tone by the way). On the live tracks it sounds muddy in some places but crystal clear in other places. 4/5.
Conclusion: The self-titled LP was a strong comeback album, but for me King of The Grey Island wasn¡¦t as strong. It seems to me Candlemass has gradually shifted its style towards a traditional heavy metal sound, whereas I feel they need to stay focused with their doom metal origin. I hope that for their next LP they return to the style of Black Stone Wielder, Samarithan, and Mourner¡¦s Lament, a style that made them successful, and write fewer but better-developed DOOM songs with sound structures, heavy riffs, and engaging atmospheres.
My overall score for this EP is 15/30, a passing grade of 50%. I recommend casual fans to avoid this release, as I would only recommend it for the diehard completist fans wanting to check out Lowe on live tracks.