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A Doll On A Wall - 63%

Larry6990, January 12th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Napalm Records

A peculiar anomaly in the otherwise towering discography of Candlemass, House Of Doom is supposed to be the soundtrack for a mobile game. Yeah, that's right: the Candlemass Mobile Game… Although I’m not sure how the music would fare in its intended purpose, it didn’t take long to form an opinion of this as a regular EP. For a while, the doom metal veterans were teetering on the brink of retirement, but fans now have a whole new full-length record to look forward to in 2019! What a turnaround! In the meantime, following on from 2016’s Death Thy Lover, we have this 4-track slice of doom metal courtesy of Edling and co.

Musically, this is absolutely nothing special, and exactly what we’d expect from Candlemass. However, whilst this would normally warrant zero complaints from myself, I confess to feeling that there’s something missing. Some unidentifiable X factor that usually gives the Swedes their spark is sorely absent. Sure, the chromatic riffs are there, the lumbering tempos, the mournful melodies… but one is left feeling strangely unsatisfied by House Of Doom. One thing I can put my finger on is the voice of Mats Leven. He’s not bad, but he possesses none of the charisma of Messiah nor the sweet menace of Robert Lowe. I am quite pleased to hear we’ll have a 'new' vocalist for the upcoming full-length.

The production quality is a teensy bit muddy here, but that doesn’t affect the overall enjoyment too much. What does surprise is the vibrant tempos at which the two main tracks take off. Both the title-track and “Flowers Of Deception” take on a “Children Of The Grave” vibe which makes for fun headbanging, but is lacking in the hulking heaviness that ‘Mass are capable of providing. “Fortune Teller” is a nice change of pace and atmosphere, but comes across as more of a folk ballad and doesn’t go anywhere structurally. “Dolls On A Wall” has the great doom-laden riffage that we crave, but ends far too soon. A mixed bag from the doom legends this time around, but I’m putting all my money on the upcoming Door To Doom being an absolute slammer. Word has it a certain Johan-something is returning…?

We Keep the Dark Alive - 70%

Twisted_Psychology, May 25th, 2018

The idea behind House of Doom is a rather bizarre one, as the EP is meant to be a soundtrack for a mobile game of the same name (Candlemass mobile phone game, now there’s a phrase I never expected to type). But at its core, Candlemass’s second EP is right in line with 2016’s Death thy Lover. Mats Leven has stuck around to sing over the polished epic doom that Leif Edling has been peddling since the mid-2000s.

While this EP’s overall genre is identical to its predecessor, the song styles cover much different territory. The title track and “Flowers of Deception” are largely upbeat tracks with a few dips into doom and a nice psychedelic tangent on the latter. From there, the acoustic balladry of “Fortuneteller” makes it the EP’s standout and “Dolls on a Wall” is a doomy instrumental closer.

But even with the twenty-minute runtime in mind, something feels missing on House of Doom. There’s no denying the solid musicianship and writing, but the songs have an almost assembly line feel to them. The hooks on the first two tracks aren’t as impactful as they could be, and while “Fortuneteller” makes for an excellent shakeup, it still seems like it could’ve been a bit longer.

With a new Candlemass full-length album on the horizon (So much for that retirement, right?), House of Doom ends up feeling more like a sampler of what is to come instead of its own entity. Death Thy Lover also had this problem to a similar extent but the songwriting there feels more complete in comparison. I imagine the eight songs between these two EP’s would make for a pretty good album with the right track order in place. Candlemass fans should enjoy the material here but I’m curious to see what these doom masters really have up their sleeves…

“House of Doom”

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