Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2020
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Redemption - 95%

Talonraker422, October 17th, 2020

A self-titled album can mean many things. Most commonly it's the first album released by a band - the statement is "This is who we are, this is our band, and this is the art we want to make." So for Candlemass to release theirs 20 years into their career with a cover void of anything but their logo, and to do so after a long spell of questionable releases which left many thinking the band had lost their identity - it's bold to say the least. But as a single listen to the album proves, that confidence was more than justified, and this re-emergence from slumber would see a revitalised Candlemass firing on all cylinders, determined to reclaim their place at the top of the epic doom world. 

The Swedes in effect present us with a more focused, stripped-back version of their distinct sound. The focal point has clearly shifted; the mystical melodies and soaring vocal lines from albums like Nightfall are still there in some capacity, but they've taken a backseat to the crushingly heavy riffing. Mappe Björkman's rhythm guitarwork is more potent than ever, giving rise to monolithic, overwhelming soundscapes, illustrated especially well in the instrumental interlude - as weird as it feels to be saying this about Candlemass of all bands and not some obscure Finnish funeral doom act, The Man Who Fell From the Sky is actually in contention for the heaviest song I've ever heard. With all that being said though, Johansson's leads have their role to play as well - his prints are heard all over the album in the form of sudden bursts of solo that come in to ease the tension.

Speaking of focus shifts, you can also say goodbye to the immersive high-fantasy lyrics of albums like Tales of Creation - Candlemass' self-titled is a gritty, down-to-earth affair, the only retained theme from albums past being the Christianity denoted by the cover. Lyrically, it deals with the clash between the whimsical stories we tell and our cold, harsh reality and the contrast is very well-expressed through the vocals. Candlemass have seen a lot of different people take up the mantle as their singer over the years, but Messiah Marcolin towers above all the rest. His voice here rivals his performance on Nightfall in sheer power, delivering some of the most memorable lines in all of doom metal on songs like Copernicus ("The sky is full of shining crosses for our sins...") and Witches ("You know it's time to scream now and leave this fucking place").

There is a complaint or two I can level against the album, however. First off, the band play it way too safe in terms of song structures and composition. Practically every single song is born from a blueprint of "riff-verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus", which doesn't mar the quality of the album, but it does give that nagging sense of wasted potential. I would've loved to hear a Well of Souls-esque bridge to slow things down and amplify the 'epic' in epic doom, but only Copernicus, the album's best song, comes close to achieving that effect.

My other complaint is that while most songs on here boast undeniable quality and passion, there's two which are below standard. 'Born in a Tank' tries to be a more aggressive, gritty piece akin to the opener 'Black Dwarf', but it doesn't tread any new territory and ends up coming off as a lacklustre attempt to recapture the feeling. The other miss is 'The Day and the Night', which tries to be an epic closer but ends up overlong, repetitive and drawn-out, robbing the album of a lot of momentum at the very end. Had they cut out the filler and given us something a little more potent and concise, this would be the perfect Candlemass album. But even if not flawless, it's still incredible as it stands.

To conclude, Candlemass found their footing in a very different place to the ancient, grandiose landscapes of times past. Their self-titled album has the band's signature romantic, fantastical flair in places but overall is a much more gritty, down-to-earth affair. It was a new, bold direction to take but quality is nonetheless written all over the result, and my minor complaints do not change that.

Highlights: Copernicus, Witches, The Man Who Fell From the Sky, Seven Silver Keys