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Encouraging - 95%

calderabanuet, August 2nd, 2013

Listening to Candlemass really makes me recover some of the perhaps naive hope I’ve still got on the vast world of metal music. Too few are those who can, or even dared to try, remain vital and valid playing the most vintage form of metal itself. Candlemass excel in that department, I can tell you that.

As it happens with great albums, is not a single element, but the conjunctive planning and use of all the elements in them what makes “Psalms fo the dead” so memorable. Meaning neither is songwriting pretentious or fancy, but effective and thorough. Both catchy rocker songs and profound dark doom metal hymns are to be found in this one. In general this is the kind of record one can listen to once and again, and it rather becomes more fun, attractive and interesting each time. Also, and this is HUGE, the way these fucks managed climax and calm, choruses and stanzas and soloing and riffing when composing each song themselves is sharp as hell.

Guitars and bass do exactly what pops Tommi and uncle Geezer taught the whole world how to do. They follow, support and challenge one another in a simply elegant way. Whereas almost all bands go for pointless speed, Lasse and Mappe rather intend to crush your ears with a slow to mid-paced bludgeon of dark rock. Drums do nothing but greatly support and hold the sensation of heaviness provoked by these guardians of six stringed ladies. Now, if ‘twas Buttler and Iommi the ones who inspired most of the instrumental part of this record, it’s Mr. Dio himself who works as a model for vocals.

Yes, good ol’Ronnie is a legend and more than one feels insulted by the comparison now, but truly, Robert Lowe did a hell of a work here. Too bad this was his last album with Candlemass, apparently, due to poor live performance. Personally, I consider track 7, “The killing of the sun”, an homage for one underrated but great cut in “Mob rules” (Black Sabbath, 1980), and that feeling endures along all songs. Robert’s vocals are clear, powerful and deep, just as they’re supposed to be. This, my dear readers is one fancy fare well for such a singer.

In the sounding like Dio era Sabbies department, keyboards are an unavoidable must when re-creating that modest epic sound, and they rock precisely because of their discretion. That discretion by the by, is not only neglected but spitted on in “Siren song” whereof keyboards line and especially the solo are delightful in the most 70’s-like way. Devils, did I enjoy this one. One could say this work’s almost flawless.

Had I had the chance of making any change to it before it was put out, I would have extended this album a little bit. Even though it goes on and on for about 50 minutes or so, a deep necessity for more remains even after listening to it around ten times. OK, OK, I’ve listened to it a few more than that. It’s interesting how it’s exactly the metalheads that claim metal should stick to its roots and not to evolve into a more sophisticated kind of music, the same farts that disregard albums such as “Psalms for the dead”. No wonder “old school” is an expression that lost its meaning, yet if you ask me these are THE basics every band should be well aware of and never forget.

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