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If one chooses to make a concept album about the creation of the world, there are two ways to do so. One is the way taken by a band like The Ocean or Monolithe (it's the creation of the universe in their case), who both opt for serious and slow earthly and cosmic explorations of the theme. The other option is the one that Candlemass take. I can't imagine Leif Edling making an earthy album about anything, not even chopping potatoes, so it comes as no surprise that this is the most overblown album on this concept, though one that manages to avoid several well-worn cliches and ends up an accessible and thrilling listen. I think that the concept doesn't interfere with any of the enjoyment on offer, unless you count those very short narrative fragments that take up about a minute of the album in total. The sum total of the songs and the surprising compactness of the experience (an epic album only just exceeding 40 minutes) more than outweighs the slight deviation of those parts.
The first thing to make you sit up and take notice is the absolutely crushing guitar tone that hits you like a handful of gravel to the face and a concrete boot in the nuts the moment 'The Prophecy' opens up. There was no precedent for this on any other Candlemass album before, what with the weak tone on 'Nightfall' and the dryness of 'Ancient Dreams', nor have the band ever repeated the miracle that is the rhythm tone. It's crunchy and doomy, sounds superbly in your face and vaguely reverent at the same time, plus it works very well at pace, which 'Dark Reflections', 'Through the Infinitive Halls of Death', and 'Into the Unfathomed Tower' demand. The whole band sounds enormous as well, as if they are recording in the vault of Heaven or a cave under the sea, and harnessing all the primal power that flows from their location. The drums bite and thunder, Edling's bass swings menacingly beneath the guitar torrent, Lars Johansson shreds and wails like a holy choir, and Messiah does exactly what is required - believes that he is God and never wavers in his belief. Some songs on previous Candlemass albums suffered from his overblown delivery (we're all thinking of 'Samaritan', I know), but an album like 'Tales of Creation' demands that he reach for the limits of his ability, and he does not disappoint, picking off the slower songs with easy finesse, while he supplies an airy melody for 'Dark Reflections' that stands out among his contributions to this band.
The significant detail that separates this album from 'Ancient Dreams' for me (and I thought that was a fine album) is that the surprises sound so fresh and bursting with energy. Maybe it's the production, but the double bass shredfest 'Into the Unfathomed Tower' that explodes between the slower 'Tears' and 'The Edge of Heaven' is a swaggering statement that declares, "If Candlemass had been a power metal band, we would have been the best at that too". It's utterly brutal and fantastic for an instrumental, plus it injects a sense of fun into the album that might otherwise render it slightly po-faced. The sheer irreverence of slapping a 7 part, 3 minute song into a concept album about the creation of the world...words fail me. Then 'Tears' itself is nothing to sniff at, though it strips the riff approach back to a very simple level and skips off a gorgeous time change into an unexpectedly exuberant chorus that Messiah utterly owns. 'Under the Oak', 'The Edge of Heaven', and 'A Tale of Creation' are the full-fat doom epics that the band were always so brilliant at, the last of which has an irresistible surge of emotion as Messiah leads into the (pre?) chorus of "With my tears the rain fell down". I also find it a refreshing take on an oft-repeated subject, from a different perspective, and with the typical weight-of-the-world-and-soul-of-God Candlemass style closing the song as Johansson embellishes the same riff that opened the album to bring us back full circle.
As usual with this band, I can't make up my mind if I have complaints or if I'm just nit-picking. There's nothing particularly wrong with 'Somewhere in Nowhere', which goes darker and more trudging than anything else, though it ends up a bit repetitive, maybe causing the band to cut it short after two choruses. 'Under the Oak' is a great song, but it was already a great song on 'Epicus Doomicus Metallicus', so there might be some fans who feel slightly cheated by the inclusion of a reworked number. I don't mind too much, since tt fits the album well, there are some subtle changes, and Messiah gets to record his take on the vocals, plus it forms an integral part of the concept. That aside, there's not really anything that bothers me, since all the performances are right up there, especially the lead guitar work. Maybe I would suggest that the band could use a font in the lyrics booklet that can actually be read, but now I know I'm nit-picking.
Of all the four classic 80s albums, this Candlemass offering seems to be the most organised and polished. The production is flawless, every song has a part to play, each of the musicians contributes something special, and the atmosphere occasionally takes your breath away. Something happened around the turn of the decade that changed the general aesthetic of Candlemass and, while they would continue to make great music, the sense of peeling back the mysteries of the world and looking directly at its meaning would be lost forever.
On October 4th 1989 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London there was a gig that at the time I would have given my left leg away to see. I remember at the time it would have been taking place cursing my age and inability to get myself to the big smoke to watch the show. I was 15 at the time and there was no way my parents would let me go with friends, let alone on my own. So instead I cursed my luck and listened to records at home instead. The bands that were playing that night were my UK favourites Acid Reign along with Dark Angel and Nuclear Assault. Plus, launching the release of their band new album was Sweden’s very own doom metal masters Candlemass. At the time I could think of nothing greater except for maybe a joint headline show of Kreator and Celtic Frost.
Candlemass’ called their new record Tales Of Creation and the first thing I noticed that was different from its two predecessors was that both Nightfall and Ancient Dreams used the artwork from painter Thomas Cole’s Voyage Of Life series. I would have loved to see the artwork for Tales Of Creation to be the originally planned Manhood painting in this series bit alas it was not to be. Instead, in his family’s bible bass player and main songwriter Leif Edling saw a print from artist Gustave Dore called Let There Be Light, an epic piece in itself showing its own tale of creation, God birthing the world with light.
One thing that did remain intact was the ultra heavy, dirge paced doom laden riffs. The sound here is crisper than on any other Candlemass release before it and also since. The track Tears is a perfect example of this, the snails pace creates an atmospheric air to the song when filled with Messiah Marcolin’s operatic vocals. The pace is picked up slightly for Dark Reflections which is unusually mid tempo for the band. The now classic riffs and Messiah’s “I was dead, awake in hell. a lonely corpse to break the spell” chorus remains in your head long after lyrics of this dubious quality should.
Highlight of the album for me is the title track. It wraps up the loose concept about a soul sent on a mission from the Gods through Hell, Heaven and Earth to discover his true purpose or some such gibberish. I am sure that as a kid I loved this idea but now coming back as an adult it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. The main riff is a brute of a thing, better than any other to be recorded during 1989. That’s one hell of a statement considering what else was on offer in 1989. On top of this guitarist Lars Johansson provides some incredible lead work as well. For a doom metal fan this is amazing stuff.
Not so good is the almost speed metal guitar wank fest that is Into the Unfathomed Tower. Whilst I’m not criticising its display of heroic metal musicianship it breaks up the flow of the album too much for my liking. If you are going to do a concept album fine but don’t stick what is essentially a three minute b side into the mix.
Many people I have spoken to into today’s traditional metal scene are not even aware that Candlemass exist let alone recorded albums as good as this. For those I would immediately recommend digging up this gem of an LP and for those lucky enough to have had been at that Hammersmith gig I envy the hell out of you.
Since I started listening to doom metal, Candlemass quickly became a respected member of my favorite metal bands and this album is one of my all time favorite metal albums. This is not their best work, but Tales Of Creation is strong enough to blow minds of listeners and bring them the spirit of doom.
Personally, I think that this is their second best album after Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. First of all, this is concept album, which already means enjoyable. Second, here Messiah Marcolin really sings with power, as is needed in epic doom metal, meanwhile when on the previous album, Ancient Dreams, his vocal were weak and it seemed like he didn't want to sing. And third, this album has strong and melodic choruses, which makes its heavenly music even more epic.
When you start this album, you will be met by 'The Prophecy', some kind of intro, but it already expresses many emotions of the album and it lets listeners know what is waiting for them. Here is used the last riff from last track, 'A Tale Of Creation', so it seems that this album starts with this riff and ends with it, so in other words, this is a circle album. Then comes thepowerful song 'Dark Reflections'. It isn't remarkable by melodiousness, but the vocal parts are epic and 'doomic'.
Then comes filler 'Voices of the Wind' and then the well-known masterpiece 'Under The Oak', but with Marcolin on vocals. Well, his version is very interesting and enjoyable, but I prefer 'Under The Oak' from 'Epicus Doomicus Metallicus'. Johan Längquist sings it with whole emotion and I can't imagine any other version.
Here is the 3 minutes long instrumental called 'Into the Unfathomed Tower'. It has many fast solos, maybe out of concept, but great anyway. Then comes one of the strongest songs, 'The Edge Of Heaven', which contains melodic and 'doomic' vocals with powerful solo. Messiah's vocal fits perfectly here.
The concept of this album is a tale of how the chosen one created the world. The last track, 'A Tale Of Creation', crowns this story well. Its outro is something epic, sounding like the final moments of mankind. It feels this way when you realize that this album has just ended.
Aside from everything this is, being heavy, strong and powerful, this album is tragic as well, and after listening to it many times, you don't feel that something is needed and you don't feel emptiness here. As I said, for me this is not their best work, but I love this album most because after listening to it again and again, you feel a wild desire to do it again and again and again and again and again.
There is so many good things to mention on this album that everytime I try to name just one of those things my tongue feels like it is dropping off. I'll try my best not to make that happen again!
The main focus in this album is Messiah Marcolin. The operatic doom metal icon who sings every phrase with 100% passion and adds vibrato anywhere he can, which is something everyone doesn't like and many people love. The way how Messiah joined this band is something that many singers don't have the courage to do. He phoned members of Candlemass several times and didn't get the chance to audition. So, he moved to the town where the band was located and told how things were done from now on and the next thing you know, he is the lead singer of Candlemass. The group loved his style and had no other choice than to make him the singer.
Nightfall was the first album I ever heard of this band and it was so good that I, among many other people thought that it couldn't get any better nor come even close. Still, I bought this album and put it on my record player just to be amazed and freezed to death. The atmosphere, the lyrical concepts, the mournful guitar riffs and the painfully slow drumwork made chills run down my spine. This album isn't as slow as Reverend Bizarre, nothing like that. But in it's own way, the heaviness and slowness of this album just feels unexplainably bigger.
Messiah is the one who is "in the centre" of this album, meaning that he mostly defines how each song should make the listener feel. The operatic voice full of vibrato is so mournful and professional that it just makes you feel like everyone should now of this band. He even made ''Under the Oak'' sound really great. Not many singers could do that. I don't prefer it over the original version on ''Epicus Doomicus Metallicus'' but it is damn close if you ask me.
The guitar riffs are pretty much similar to the ones on Nightfall and it is only a positive thing. The solos are even more better and complex and if you need proof of that you can listen to the short instrumental doom metal track with a twist of power metal "Into the Unfathomed Tower" which fits the atmosphere and the theme perfectly.
After the intro track which sets you in for the right mood, a thunderous riff begins the song ''Dark Relfections''. It is not neither stereotypical of a riff nor a piece of plagiarism - it is only heavy and perfect. That riff is a good way to open the album that feels like a ton of weights dropping on you.
This album is a concept album and it is done with thought and passion. The phrases on tracks called "The Prophecy" and "Voices in the Wind" will make you sure of that. Nothing seems out of place on this masterpiece. One could still say that this album is a "grower" meaning that the listener does not necessarily love this album at the first listen. After about 10 listens, this album became my obsession, I'll tell you that.
The highlights of this record are definetly "Dark Reflections", "Into the Unfathomed Tower" and "Tears". These songs are the ones that will most certainly get stuck in your head for ages as they did to me. These songs are certainly not like "Solitude", "Bewitched" or "The Sorcerer's Pledge" but they sure come close.
I would reccomend this album to everyone who likes to listen to albums from start to finnish at one listen and to those who love doom metal with epic feelings. Hail Messiah Marcolin and Candlemass!
Back when Candlemass founder/bassist Leif Edling was first recording ideas for his new project in the early 1980's, he conceived of the idea of an album based on the creation of the world. He had a vision far greater than anything his previous band Nemesis could achieve, so he formed Candlemass. Much of "Tales of Creation" was written before the formation of Candlemass; poems that Edling had written became the inspiration for the writing of new songs. In addition, some ideas originally recorded for Nemesis were reworked for use in this concept that Edling had conceived.
If one listens to the demos that are included in the two-disc remaster, they'll find that while some themes are present in the early demo versions of the songs (recorded in 1985), other songs, despite having the same name, are completely different. "Dark Reflections" sounds like an early power-metal song. This "Tales of Creation" concept got derailed during the sessions for the first Candlemass album, when it was decided that they were going to make the album as heavy as they could. "Under the Oak" first appeared on "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus," and there has been much debate as to which version is better. Leif Edling has stated that he prefers the version on Candlemass' debut, but I like both of them for what they are. I don't worry about which one is better, because each version is suited for the album that it is on. The debut focused on heaviness, so the "Epicus" version is well-suited for that album. "Tales of Creation" is more epic and grandiose, so the version found on this album fits much better. Special mention goes out to lead guitarist Lars Johansson's phenomenal work on this song.
I've read in several places that this is a concept album, which is incorrect. While this album certainly has a theme, not to mention a guitar line that appears at the beginning of the first song and at the end of the last song (a la "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son"), there is no overall story that continues between songs. The beginning of "Tales of Creation" certainly seems like the beginning of a concept album, with opening song "Dark Reflections" sandwiched between two short interludes, but aside from a rather pretentious interlude before the closing title track, the songs stand on their own and have very little to do with one another both musically (aside from being distinctively Candlemass) and lyrically.
One odd choice on "Tales of Creation" is the instrumental "Into the Unfathomed Tower." Lars Johansson shreds like he's Yngwie Malmsteen; some feel that this song is entirely out of place, but I think it's awesome. I chuckled at how this song supposedly has seven sections, all with pretentious names, but there is nothing to indicate when one section supposedly ends and another starts, so Edling probably thought of the title and section names even before attaching them to a song.
The highlight of the album, besides the aforementioned "Under the Oak," is "Tears." The hypnotic yet devastating riff stands out amongst all the riffs in the genre; very few riffs have the ability to create such a strong atmosphere and convey the emotion expressed in the lyrics as well as this one does. Messiah's voice is almost a liability, but Lars Johansson more than makes up for it with a wicked solo.
Actually, Messiah's vocals are really hit-or-miss throughout the album. He sounds excellent on "Dark Reflections" and "Under the Oak," but he relies too heavily on vibrato and hurts otherwise good songs like "The Edge of Heaven." He definitely has a unique style of singing, but sometimes it is just too over-the-top to be enjoyable. There are some great riffs to be found throughout (which is to be expected on any project that involves Leif Edling), but sometimes the riff-writing slips here and there. The biggest disappointment of the album comes in the closing title track. The main riff is disappointing and Messiah adds nothing to the song, not even a good solo by Lars Johansson can save it.
Overall, however, this album is a resounding success. There are definitely classics on this album that metal fans in general should hear. The album artwork is awesome, although I think they could have chosen a better color than piss-yellow. Sadly, the musical climate would change between this album and the next, and this, along with the departure of Messiah, would tear the band apart, but not before they could release the (even more) underrated "Chapter VI." This album is essential listening for any fan of heavy metal.
Doom legend, Candlemass' fourth album and third with legendary vocalist Messiah Marcolin. This album continues in the same style as the past three albums with Messiah Marcolin singing That style being the “epic doom metal” style. This album is every bit as great as the previous albums and I still hold it to be above Ancient Dreams or Nightfall. The album is just that perfect.
Tales of Creation begins with a short intro with spoken words and with a good riff played behind it. The first full song is “Dark Reflections” which like all the band's songs has a great riff and is played perfectly. This song mixes into a short 15 second spoken segment which mixes into “Under the Oak” which has a really heavy and great riff. The song progresses nicely as well. “Tears” follows up next and doesn't fail to disappoint. “Into the unfathomed Tower” is a weird and fast paced instrumental, it of course is damn good and won't disappoint. “The Edge of Heaven” Follows it and is yet another great track with a great riff, great vocals and style. “Somewhere in Nowhere” is a very doomy song, slow riff and more lower vocals then normal. “Through the Infinitive Halls of Death” speeds the pace up a bit and features some great riffs, solos and vocals. Definitely one of the stand out tracks (all of them are though) This song is followed by the last of the spoken tracks “Dawn” which follows into the last song on the album, “A Tale of Creation” which I think has one of the coolest riffs they ever made. The song is of course amazing like the rest of the album. Very worthy of anyones time.
The albums production also gains a great amount of praise. The guitar is mixed very powerful, very heavy and audible. The vocals are givin the power they need in the mix. The drumming is very good during the album and aren't mixed too loud. The bass you can barely hear but the album certainly doesn't lack the bass end of sound.
This album is a definite classic and although I don't think it can match up to the groups debut “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus”, it is still a very essential and classic release. Go get this album and their others right now, anyone who likes doom or claims so should own a copy of all the Candlemass releases anyways.