CANDLEMASS - The Door To Doom
February 15, 2019, 6 months ago
Couple of years ago, the venerable Swedish doom merchants announced they'd forego future recordings and while sticking his fingers in both the Avatarium and Doomsday Kingdom pies, mainman Lief Edling was absent from the stage. Following the acrimonious split with Robert Lowe, and the founding bassist's pronouncement that Psalms For The Dead would be their final recorded output, the Death Thy Lover EP (2016) lifted hopes. Now we've even got Edling (apparently healed from several years of ailments and burnout) returned to the fold. Speaking of re-upping, how about original singer Johan Langquist (of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus fame) reappearing out of nowhere, to once again front the band? If that ain't enough (and for any metalhead worth their salt, it SHOULD be), there's a guest spot from Tony Iommi, on molasses-creeping, perpetual motion simulating “Astorolus – The Great Octopus”. Sab riff meets Cathedral and C-mass in a dark alley!
While there are plenty of low, distorted and crushing riffs (which we'll examine in a moment), Edling also paints on an expanded canvas, including minimalist, acoustic tones seemingly borrowed from the female fronted Avatarium experience, most notably to begin “Under The Ocean” (think Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan"). Fear not, a Langquist scream breaks the calm, (and apart from another mellow reprise) sends the creation on its remaining five minute journey. Elsewhere, there's still the fast/begrudgingly slow dichotomy of classic C-mass throughout the eight song running order. "Listen to that sustain," as Nigel Tufnel would say, on "Splendor Demon Majesty". An atypical opening, for a band steeped in doom metal lore. Not long before the rumbling bottom end kicks in, but with plenty of space for a short exchange of lead guitars, courtesy of lefty Lars Johansson and six-string partner Mats Björkman. Most of the compositions last well past six minutes, besides a 3:43 electrified acoustic laden "Bridge Of The Blind", which serves as something of an intermezzo (bridge?) between the more "experimental" initial half and final four, traditional sounding cuts.
Pedestrian shuffle kicks off "Death's Wheel", imbued with just enough energy (between the exaggerated guitar spotlights) to eventually get fists thrusting overhead, come the chorus. Young bands, learn from the masters of dynamics! Ignoring the tribal drumming/jungle sounds around the four minute mark, feedback riff begun "Black Trinity" (which actually uses the repeated phrase "Ambassadors of Doom") plays it straight: belabored, pounding heaviness. Originally part of an online slot machine site, “House Of Doom”, a more robust re-working of the title track from last year's four song effort (now sporting greater emphasis on embellishments like thunder storm, tolling church bells and Hammond organ interlude) is the lone holdover. It cracks at an uptempo pace reminiscent of “Black Dwarf” off the eponymous '05 reunion disc. "The Omega Circle" finale, at 7:18, the most expansive number, starts a bit off kilter (bits of spoken word, akin to Alice Cooper's "Steven"), but quickly launches into reassuring tone, even tacking on a musical coda. Can't wait to hear some of these live.