Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Album Review: Candlemass - The Door To Doom

This is Swedish doom metallers Candlemass’ first album since 2012 and the first one with original singer Johan Längqvist since 1986, so the release was awaited with some trepidation by fans of retro occult metal.

There is a resurgence for this type of music and aesthetic as evidenced by Ghost’s staggering success and it’s no surprise that Candlemass have been chose to open for the Swedish phenomenon’s current tour.

The album is a crushing slab of raw metal, as heavy as anything Sabbath has released. In fact, the riffs and compositions are very reminiscent of Dehumanizer and that’s a compliment. Längqvist’s vocals are less athletic than Dio’s obviously, but they have a sort of viking quality to them that fits perfectly with the doom riffs concocted by bassist Leif Edling.

Some clever production choices arise here and there, such as on album opener Splendor Demon Majesty where an eerie choir turns the straight ahead metal tune into the soundtrack for a haunted carnival ride, or House Of Doom which features an appropriately gothic organ solo.

One of the treats of the album is the guest guitar solo by Tony Iommi on the track Astrolus - The Great Octopus where his recognisable touch and phrasing help elevate the piece from run-of-the-mill metal competence to near awesomeness.

The album delivers exactly what it promises: killer riffs, declamatory vocals, gothic arpeggios and impassioned performances. It is not going to reinvent the wheel, but there is something comforting in knowing that this type of music is still going to be produced and released now that Black Sabbath has called it a day. In fact, Saint Vitus, another one of Black Sabbath’s bastard children, is also hard at work on their new album since 2012 and the first one with original singer Scott Reagers since 1996. And one can’t help but dream of a tour that would feature those two classic purveyors of Doom bringing their evil science to the desolate masses…

In the mean time, The Door To Doom is an excellent record. Sure, the moods and tempos are anything but diverse: the songs are always either a slow and grinding crawl or a malevolent, mid-tempo gallop, often both in the same songs. But at under fifty minutes it leaves no time to get bored, in fact it reinforces the cohesiveness of the album.

This line-up is scheduled to play festival dates next summer, but what happens beyond that remains to be seen. Hopefully a new generation will discover Candlemass on the back of their tour with Cardinal Copia and his Nameless Ghouls and this will jumpstart their career. Who knows, in two years time we may get another record of quality metal like this one. That is one prophecy of doom we could all get behind.

Join Apple Music HERE to listen to the entire album

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