Talking about doom metal and not mentioning Swedish Candlemass is a bit like talking about Walt Disney and not at least touching upon Mickey Mouse. The brainchild of bassist and composer Leif Edling and drummer Mats Ekström, the band saw the day of light in 1984 and released the debut, ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’, in 1986. It made waves in the metal scene by taking on a markedly different approach to metal in a time when thrash metal was running hastily towards its zenith, and they certainly didn’t sound like Iron Maiden or Manowar either.
The following albums, ‘Nightfall’ (1987), ‘Ancient Dreams’ (1988) and ‘Tales of Creation’ (1989) were and still are sublime releases in my book. They are true classics, albums you can listen to again and again, with a special atmosphere and nerve. Singer Messiah Marcolin left around 1990, and things began to go awry for the influential doom band. ‘Chapter VI’ from 1992 with singer Thomas Vikström didn’t take off, neither artically, nor commercially. Edling began to focus on his other band, Abstrakt Algebra, then fired the whole band and took up Candlemass again, released the two albums ‘Dactylis Glomerata’ and ‘From the 13th Sun’, also albums that aren’t the mightiest of them all. Back comes Messiah Marcolin and ‘Candlemass’ is released in 2005 – in effect showing the first real signs of life from Candlemass since ‘Tales of Creation’. Then Messiah leaves again.
Enter Robert Lowe, the singer of US doom metal band Solitude Aeternus. His first album with Candlemass is ‘King of the Grey Island’ from 2007, turns out to be very promising, and the next two albums, ‘Death Magic Doom’ and ‘Psalms of the Dead’ are if not instant classics, then at least fine albums. At this point, Edling announces that Candlemass will no longer record albums. The band will tour, though, something which also turns out to be a problem due to the quality of Lowe’s live performances. Exit Lowe in 2012, enter Mats Levén.
Surprisingly, despite Edling’s statements about the band not wanting to record anymore, there’s now an EP out with new material.
‘Death Thy Lover’ consists of four songs that certainly show that Candlemass are certainly still alive and that Levén fits the band like fist into studded glove. The guy has a phenomenal voice. Overall, the EP is a big tribute to Black Sabbath, but that’s hardly a fact that will surprise anyone who knows the band.
The title track of the album is by far the most captivating of the four. The song is upbeat Sabbathesque and heavy. Levén’s style is not a far cry from that of Lowe, yet clearly his own. The chorus with the almost sad solo guitar underneath is the sort of chorus you want to hear again and again. Astonishingly catchy piece of metal, right there.
Sleeping Giant is another Black Sabbath tribute, this time the tempo is a tad slower. Again a great chorus piece.
Sinister ‘n’ Sweet continues in the same tempo and with the same heaviness factor. Less extraordinary than the two first songs, although it does offer a lesson in string bending.
The fourth track of ‘Death Thy Lover’ is an instrumental, which you could argue is a bit of shame, since we’d like to hear more of Levén’s great voice now that Candlemass is finally recording material with him. Still, The Goose is certainly doom metal Candlemass style, and what’s not to like?
Let’s hope that Candlemass will keep the trend going and find some more time in studio some time soon!
01. Death Thy Lover
02. Sleeping Giant
03. Sinister n Sweet
04. The Goose
Playing time: 26 minutes
Release date: 3rd of June, 2016
Label: Napalm Records