Album Reviews

Candlemass – Candlemass

(Nuclear Blast) UK release date: 2 May 2005

Candlemass - Candlemass Despite having a festival, TV show and even an action figure in honour of his “metalness”, if Ozzy Osbourne ever sits at home wondering if he is remembered for his musical influence, he need look no further than Candlemass‘ latest offering of doom-core (no, really!) mayhem.

After reforming with original opera-versed vocalist Messiah (that’s his name not an eloquent affirmation) in 2002 for a tour and live album release, the Swedes decided to pen some more gloom-filled tunes and reform proper for their seventh and eponymously-titled effort.

Having carved more than a niche for themselves in the late’80s, Candlemass are a bunch of veterans currently dusting off their instruments for some comeback action.Those who have followed this band throughout their 19-year career will have witnessed band break-ups, line-up changes and numerous varieties of monk’s costumes (!). One unwavering yardstick of consistency, however, is the quintet’s relentless devotion to the sludgy, monstrous sound that they were instrumental in forging: that of the much ridiculed, little understood genre of Doom Metal.

Doom Metal is an apt way to describe the lyrics, sound and aura of a band who drone their way through nine new tracks of rehashed, not so groundbreaking material, which, nevertheless, are a definitive soundtrack to Armageddon in slow motion. Candlemass are renowned for crafting dark, atmospheric soundscapes and then tearing them apart with brutal distortion and the kind of howling vocals that would make most tom-cats blush. They most certainly don’t waste any time getting down to business, with opener Black Dwarf seeking to prove that although the Swedes may be ageing, mellowing they are certainly not. An ultra-cheesy guitar solo kicks in after just two and a half minutes, which is done even more damage by the oh not so insightful lyrics: “You’re playing tricks, six hundred six six, the devil’s dictating the news.”

Assassins of the night puts us squarely back in doom and gloom quarters once more, with a crushing riff and some Tool-esque drum work that has progressed since the ’80s. Copernicus drops to a deathly slow funeral hymn and dabbles in some serious prog-metal – picture early Genesis with the aforementioned Mr Osbourne on vocals. Instrumental, The Man Who Fell From the Sky is a brilliant example of Doom Metal at its very worst, for, in reality, unless one is very drunk or under the influence of some not so edifying narcotics, only so much repetition of a four-chord pattern that can be swallowed before boredom forces you to sleep.

It is possible that Candlemass will win a few new fans with this album, although I can’t help feeling that their best-of would be a much wiser investment. Still, Candlemass did redefine the concept of sludgy Doom riffage, so they will always deserve some credit.

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