CANDLEMASS – Candlemass


Nuclear Blast
Release Date: May 3, 2005

User Review
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2004 sure had its ups and downs. In May, Candlemass founder, bass player, and songwriter extraordinaire Leif Edling announced that the band was history once and for all. No more shows, no more records; this was it … finished … zero … nada … out, to quote him. The candles had been burnt for the last time. Heavy Metal fans all over the world were devastated –- after all, Candlemass had not only showed the world how to re-release a back catalog, but also blasted their way though the summer festivals in 2002, showing that they still were one of the best live acts around, and put all other so-called comebacks to shame.

In November 2004, not even six months later, the band had solved their internal problems and announced that they were about to enter the Polar Studios in Stockholm, a legend among studios — as the last band ever before the doors were shut -– to cut a new record. Truly beyond belief, the band went in and hammered out the album Candlemass in ten days, proving that you don’t need to spend months in a studio when you know what you’re doing –- and when you’re good at what you do.

Candlemass, the album, is a fresh re-start. It takes the band to a new level soundwise; Jan Lindh’s drums have never sounded better on a Candlemass recording, and the guitars are more in your face than ever (as they are when you see the band live). Album opener “Black Dwarf” takes the listener back to where the band left off in 1991. It sounds like “Dark Reflections” (from Tales Of Creation, 1989) meets “The Dying Illusion” (from the much underrated Chapter VI, 1992). The Swedes could not possibly have picked a better opener; they prove that not much has happened over the last 15 years … at least not much to cause notice. “Black Dwarf” is simply a “back with a revenge” song; another one that will go down well live, and a good way to turn heads. As Leif Edling says, “I told you so!”

The next track, “Seven Silver Keys,” one of the mid-tempo songs on the disc (sure ain’t no Helloween inspiration here), is classy and typical Candlemass Doom Metal. While the opener is more of that 1989-92 Candlemass, “Seven Silver Keys” has a lot of background keyboards and takes the listener back to the doomy and atmospheric Candlemass in the very beginning — in 1986-88. This song could have easily been on one of the two first records –- that’s how friggin’ brilliant it is! Doom monk Messiah Marcolin delivers a stunning vocal performance, while Mappe Bjorkman on rhythm guitar lets people on Mars hear his wall of riffs.

Next up is “Assassin Of The Light,” where you really are exposed to what the band calls “negative riffing.” Don’t ask how to explain the formula, simply check it out for yourself. The song has a very heavy chorus, and one can imagine Messiah destroying the stage as he sings: “Welcome, Assassin Of Light … Blackout!” Lasse Johansson, the coolest lead guitar player out there, lays down one of his trademark melodic, yet shredding, solos. Not overdoing anything, but he just gives the song the exact flavor and spice it needs. His attitude towards a guitar solo should serve as a textbook example to the upgrowing generation of guitarists. Stylewise, “Assassin …” could have been on any previous Candlemass record.

“Copernicus” is the most obvious proof that Mister Edling owns a Black Sabbath disc or two (he might even possess all their CDs, that’s a good bet). It puts you in the same hypnotic mood as the song “Black Sabbath,” before Mappe unleashes the heaviest riff on the record, or the heaviest riff you’ll hear in 2005 for that matter, backed by Leffe’s four string thunderpicking. “Copernicus” is Candlemass doing what they do best — playing the heaviest Doom Metal with passion and an incredible sense of melody. This is another stand-out track; a true epic.

A cool instrumental is “The Man Who Fell From The Sky,” before “Witches,” a song most diehards already have, as its demo was on last year’s Essential Doom” collection, paves it way with more negative riffing and convincing power. This song (at least its first half) is slightly more nineties Candlemass, post-Messiah, than anything else on this CD. That said, the melodic guitar pattern after Messiah sings, “We are here to burn the witches,” and the riff that kicks in halfway through the song, show Sweden’s best band ever return to the Nightfall-era –- much in the vein of people’s expectations and hopes for this record. Mappe breaks into yet another monster riff where Lasse makes his guitar scream as the song is faded out.

“Born In A Tank” –- what a sick thought, by the way –- is quite an up-tempo number, at least in a Candlemass context, with all the fine elements that form the band’s formula: the killer guitar solo, the doomy atmosphere, the majestic vocals, the headcrushing riff, and most importantly, the melody; both in Messiah’s vocal lines and from Lasse’s godsent fingers. To be slightly critical for a change, though it’s hard to hold the bar higher when this CD attacks you, the riff Messiah sings the verses over is perhaps too much of a Black Sabbath rip-off.

You need to hear this record a few times before you slam the hammer down and judge it, and “Spellbreaker” is an example of just that. The song has a big layer of keyboards behind the negative riff, and it changes from up-tempo, again in a Candlemass context, to slow and heavy as f..k, before Messiah proclaims that “The mother of life is a whore!” Hmmm, food for thought … All of the tempo changes make the song grow on you, but after multiple spins, you’ll realize that this is another killer track worthy of being labelled “the best thing since Swedish meatballs,” with Lasse’s best guitar solo since 1987’s “At The Gallow’s End.”

Last is “The Day And The Night,” another epic track like “Copernicus,” that stands tall next to any classic off Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus. How can music be so depressive, but still make people shed tears because of its beauty? Someone once said that there’s beauty in the purity of sadness, and that’s at least a lead to the answer, I guess.

You may wonder how one man’s vision can be so incredibly intact after all these years. Leif Edling still shows hunger, and once again he has the best guys on board with him to express it. It’s remarkable how negatively-loaded music can have such a positive impact on one’s soul. Candlemass doesn’t live off its legacy –- the band indeed lives up to it –- and they prove that their music is just as relevant, or not relevant -– who cares anyway in 2005 compared to 1987. The most important Heavy Metal album of the year is here, and like mentioned to begin with, Candlemass puts all other comebacks to shame. Without this CD, your collection isn’t worth a penny, so invade your local dealer, bring all your friends, and make these guys proud and willing to bring more doom, depression and destruction. Fuck the world … out!


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