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Masterpiece - 95%

Felix 1666, July 17th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Usually, I associate heavy metal with volume and aggression, harshness and velocity. These are the features why I like this music. Doom metal has its right of existence, no doubt about it. It just does not belong to my favourite styles. The discovery of slowness does not make my day. It is a rather boring matter, at least in my view. Yet there is no rule without exceptions and the doom genre does not leave me completely cold. That´s the point where Candlemass come into play. Their albums never fell below a solid level. Even rather crude outputs like "Dactylis Glomerata" or "From the 13th Sun" have their moments. However, the masterpiece of the Swedish legend is definitely their self-titled full-length. Their first albums may have gained cult status in the eyes of some beholders, but the musical content of "Candlemass" is more or less unbeatable, among other things because of the vocals. This is where Messiah Marcolin comes in. His full voice creates dramatic, aggressive and desperate moments, depending on the needs of the respective song. Maybe he is an eccentric and insufferable egomaniac, but his vocals on "Candlemass" leave nothing to be desired. Too bad that this full-length became the farewell performance of this charismatic monk at the microphone.

Because of being no expert for this genre, I am unsure whether the album delivers pure doom. Some melody lines have a certain pop appeal. I suspect that real doom metal fans may have problems to get used to the here presented approach. Candlemass do not eschew to perform relatively cheesy lines (for example, the soft chorus of "Seven Silver Keys") and they are thankfully not totally immune against comparatively fast rhythms ("Black Dwarf" and "Born in a Tank"). But the band also scores with heavyweight riffs and ironclad harmonies that benefit from the warm and vigorous production. Highlights such as "Assassins of the Light" and "Copernicus" have to be mentioned in this context. However, the crucial thing is that almost every single piece deserves the highest praise due to the maturity of the song-writing. Mastermind Leif Edlund has composed songs that lie in very close proximity to perfection. The overdose of epic, elegiac and woeful riffs is admirable. Even the relatively brief instrumental "The Man Who Fell from the Sky" impresses me. It is actually a very simple number, but its stoic yet merciless riffs have a huge impact. The strong and metallic sound makes sure that the guitar work does not fail to have the desired effect. The riffs generate an unreal atmosphere so that the falling man is taking shape before the inner eye of the listener.

Unfortunately, the stylishly packed album narrowly misses the full score. "Witches" cannot be blamed as a letdown, but it tastes like a slightly stale Swedish light beer. Ironically, another minor flaw is the bonus track. When does mankind get rid of so-called bonus tracks that cannot compete with the regular songs? The here presented last number contains some good basic ideas, but not only due to its sudden ending, it leaves a semi-finished impression. Its noticeable lack of substance cannot be kept hidden. My enthusiasm for these two songs has therefore waned over the years. However, the mediocre pieces only represent a pitiful minority. "Candlemass" has become engraved in my mind as a poignant album that shines with both the necessary variance and the emotional force. A lot of its songs rest safely at the highest tier of doom and no change is in sight.