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Magnificent Is the King Of The Dead - 85%

Twisted_Psychology, May 1st, 2010

While Candlemass may always be remembered for housing vocalists such as Messiah Marcolin and Robert Lowe in their ranks, they were one of many bands that kept pushing through the 90's and giving the die-hards left some good quality material. This particular album is one of the three released during this time period and is the last to feature guitarist Mats Ståhl, drummer Jejo Perkovic, and vocalist Björn Flodkvist. It's also the only Candlemass album to feature a keyboardist in the form of Carl Westholm and was what paved the way for a reunion of the band's signature line-up.

Musically, this album features the band's familiar tempos and but focuses on a different aspect of doom metal than what the group is usually known for. The atmosphere is incredibly dark, the riffs are incredibly slow and packed with sludge, and there appears to be more of a "jamming" feel on here in comparison to other Candlemass efforts. There is also an incredibly spacy feel to the album with this tone being reinforced by the spooky keyboard efforts and strange song titles.

As many listeners (and the booklet's liner notes) have pointed out, Black Sabbath is the most dominating influence on this album's songwriting and band performance. "Tot" has a foreboding feel similar to that of "Black Sabbath," the driving "Elephant Star" is similar to "Symptom Of The Universe," and "Arx/NG 891" has some shades of "Electric Funeral" in its atmosphere. While this could have turned out horribly and shamefully derivative in the hands of a lesser band, Candlemass executes its tributes in good taste and adds in a lot of unique elements to keep things interesting.

The band's performance is also quite solid and goes along with the album's loose nature quite nicely. When taking the Sabbath influence into consideration, it is needless to say that the guitars are almost always running the show. While the riffs sometimes lack variation, they are always solid in their plodding nature and the solos provide some decent touches here and there. Flodkvist also puts in a decent Ozzy Osbourne impression though his somewhat nasally tone keeps him short of the Wino levels of success. I also like how the drums appear to be more prominent than usual and are given a nice chance to shine in the midst of "Cyclo-F."

I also found the lyrics to be pretty intriguing with most of them being about as odd as their titles would suggest. Most of the songs seem to center around themes related to fantasy and science fiction though "Cyclo-F" throws out an incredibly sarcastic set of rhymes that seem to play off the classic doom metal stereotypes. They even manage to bring in a William Blake reference for the opening lines of "Arx/NG 891."

While this isn't on the same level as some of their more famous efforts, this is a pretty solid slab of doom metal worth checking out for anyone who calls themselves a fan. It may actually be a good introduction to the band for unfamiliar listeners that already enjoy classic Black Sabbath and should be a great bonus for those that have already been initiated.

My Current Favorites:
"Droid," "Tot," "Elephant Star," "Arx/NG 891," and "Cyclo-F"