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Candlemass - Psalms for the Dead - 75%

ThrashManiacAYD, July 14th, 2012

As is often the case with bands whose legacies were unquestionably formed many years ago and today have no hope of ever topping I have a hard time working out what to make of their latest release. The teenage fan in me wishes for them to not change the template that many them so strong but the realist accepts this doesn't happen, and for the best. Which brings me to Candlemass, the kings of doom. Their recent releases have indeed been good, as seen by 2009's "Death Magic Doom" and now "Psalms for the Dead" but the majesty of the earlier material feels a long way from the modern, heavy sound we have here on album no. 11.

Recorded with erstwhile Solitude Aeturnus vocalist Rob Lowe who has since left since release, "Psalms…" sees Candlemass looking to solidify their position as the doom headliner of 2012, even if newer, younger bands have released better, more essential albums in recent years. The pace of their tomes these days hovers at more of a slow-medium rather than the dead slow of old, with time spent split between the lurching of "The Sound of Dying Demons", the psychedelic "Waterwitch", a more upbeat "Prophet" and the epic title-track. The use of keyboards, tuned to sound as an organist does in an old church, add an extra dimension to the periods where their usage accompanies the lead guitar and main riff (as in "Psalms for the Dead") or as a song-leading element like in "The Killing of the Sun". As someone not usually too taken by the sounds of keyboard I can vouch for their justified and elegant usage here, the difference being the experience of bassist and songwriter Leif Edling in knowing how to nail the true feeling of doom at a whim. Added to all, the bands knack of writing a great vocal harmony; done previously in recent years with "Of Stars and Smoke" on "King of the Grey Islands", the leading one found in this here title track (yes that track again) with Lowe's recognisable crooning will knock the socks off you.

Not all moments are quite so solid - notably closer "Black As Time" which is a total waste of 7 minutes, and much of "Siren Song" which plods along despite the best hammond efforts of Opeth's Per Wiberg - but for a band so steeped in doom (and metal) heritage there is much to admire and like on "Psalms for the Dead". Best post-Y2K album from the Swedes? A hard one to call given the consistency of all four, but a worthy addition to a catalogue already bursting with doom greatness.

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net