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Candlemasses best? - 95%

melodyharmony, February 16th, 2009

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked Candlemass albums – like other reviewers have said, most people point you to Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and Nightfall as the two best candlemass albums, however, Ancient Dreams is quite a strong release, and perhaps, dare I say, one of the best doom metal albums ever created.

Of course, doom metal takes a lot of cues from Sabbath – and Candlemass is no exception. The riffing here is similar to any early Sabbath. However, Candlemass takes what Black Sabbath had and expands it. They took what Sabbath had and made it darker, longer, and more epic than anything Sabbath put out. Some of the riffs on this album are downright twisted, and the eerie way Candlemass harmonizes a lot of their song’s main riffs makes them that much more creepy. There are no happy riffs here – every riff on here is sinister and morbid. Imagine wading through tar after a heavy dose of psychedelic drugs, and you get the idea of the riffing on this album. At the same time though, Candlemass manages not only to create significantly creepy riffs they also have those soaring, epic sections that really make the songs on this album, such as near the end of “A Cry From the Crypt”, for the best example. The way Candlemass manages to incorporate these kinds of riffs fluently into their songs is what sets them apart from other doom metal bands, which often end up being too slow and plodding instead of heavy and epic, which is what Candlemass does perfectly. On top of all this they also manage to have many thrashy riffs thrown in, obviously nothing as fast as something off of Bonded by Blood or Darkness Descends, but crushing and heavy. Imagine if Sodom or (early) Slayer got extremely stoned – that’s sorta what some of these riffs would sound like. This kind of riffing is most evident on “Bearer of Pain”, or maybe “Incantation of Evil”. It is also obligatory for a metal album to have guitar solos, and Candlemass does this quite well. The solos on this album are perfectly adapted to the songs – imagine a slowed down Yngwie Malmsteen, but more sophisticated. The whammy bar is not used recklessly here, unlike many bands which relentlessly abuse it.

Now about the vocals of Messiah Marcolin. This guys voice is perfectly suited for Candlemass. His soaring, operatic vocals perfectly compliment the slow, heavy guitars riffs and the slow, crushing drum work. The thing that makes this guy different though is that he has an awesome vibrato – the power in his voice is unmatched, and probably the epitome of doom metal vocals.

The drumming of Jan Lindh is quite simplistic. Definitely not very fast – there is no blast beats or ferocious thrash breaks here. However, that doesn’t make it bad. The drumming matches perfectly with the guitars, and the minimalist approach Jan uses works quite effectively.

The lyrics here are pretty interesting, and are just like the music - dark and sinister. Many of the themes of the lyrics here are fantasy, but with a dark, evil twist, and that gives the listener an impeding sense of doom, and along with the majestically creepy riffs, creates a perfect atmosphere for a metal album, or any album in general, and for 52 minutes you are subjected to some insanely talented songwriting and musicianship, and some of the best doom metal ever.

Overall, I think this is an album that most metal fans can enjoy. It's not too slow, or too fast, but interesting and unique, accessible and easy to listen to, and a true classic in the doom metal genre.