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Ancient Dreams - A Masterpiece of Epic Doom - 95%

MetalSupremacy, May 4th, 2008

Most people rate Nightfall and Epicus Doomicus Metallicus as Candlemass's best two albums. But I think Ancient Dreams is just as good in many ways. Better in some ways, actually.

First off, people often say that "A Cry from the Crypt" is a weak song because it sounds vaguely like "At the Gallows' End" from Nightfall. I disagree. It is a great song - pure doom from beginning to end. Even better, it has a really sad and tragic riff at the end, and is the only one of Candlemass's songs that actually makes me feel sad, from their first four albums at least.

Not only that, but this album is pure doom - 52 minutes of it - all eight tracks are proper doom metal tracks. And the final and ninth track, "Black Sabbath Medley", is no worse than the instrumental tracks on Nightfall and Tales of Creation. Those tracks are what prevent Nightfall from being a perfect album, in my opinion. They are filler. Same with Tales of Creation. On the other hand, on "Ancient Dreams" there is no filler, except for Black Sabbath Medley. All eight of the proper tracks are pure doom, and I find all of them to be either very good at the least, or excellent at the best.

Besides the awesome "Mirror, Mirror", which is probably one of their best songs ever, and "A Cry from the Crypt" which I still really like, "Darkness in Paradise" and "Incarnation of Evil" are also fantastic doom metal songs. Darkness in Paradise was supposedly made less good because it had a bad production job, but I don't notice this - it's a great song, probably one of Candlemass's best. Fantastic Solo in the middle. Great words too.

Incarnation of Evil is also great.......very doomy and very evil and scary. Brilliant riffing and creepy words. I don't know why Leif Edling doesn't like this song, I think it's awesome.

Next, "Bearer of Pain" is much faster, almost thrashy at times, and although it isn't as dark and scary as the previous songs, it's a great fantasy based song with good riffs and solos.

The title track, "Ancient Dreams" is a bit on the slow side, but that means it is even doomier. Definitely an interesting dark fantasy tale. A good song anyway.

The last two songs, "The Bells of Acheron" and "Epistle No. 81" are good songs too, the former being fast and semi thrashy, the latter being slow, plodding, and doomy. But both are good.

As for "Black Sabbath Medley" - well, it's Black Sabbath. I find this track to be ok. Certainly, it isn't out of place to have Black Sabbath on a doom metal album.

The other reason why I think this album, along with Nightfall, is actually better than Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in places, is because it has a unified theme, and so does Nightfall. They aren't concept albums - that isn't what I mean. I mean the songs have similar themes, which makes the albums fit together better. On Nightfall, for instance, almost all of the main six songs - four of them - are about death, in one way or another. "The Well of Souls" and "Bewitched" are about demons coming from hell and a person being possessed by the devil, respectively, but other than that, the album has a much more unified theme than Epicus, which was six songs - six great doom metal songs, to be sure - but they were, perhaps, too different from one another lyrically. On Nightfall and Ancient Dreams, this is not so. Ancient Dreams, unlike Nightfall, focuses on dark fantasy, heaven and hell, and demons and devils rather than death, which makes it very mythological and interesting.

Anyway, a great doom album - easily one of the best albums I could recommend to anyone who wants to understand what true doom metal is. Candlemass is epic doom metal, but they are proper and pure doom in every way. And Ancient Dreams is one of the finest pure doom metal albums ever - the biggest reason, besides all of what I have already listed, being that besides the final track, there is no filler whatsoever on it. Pure doom metal.