Candlemass – “Death Magic Doom”


“I saw the execution of my tomorrow, saw it and bowed
in the theater of hellfire; the inferno is now.
I am lost again. I lean against the purgatory gates.
To ease my suffering, you’re offering to unlock my fate.”

From the snowscapes of Sweden, the legendary Candlemass are back with a vengeance. With little expectation, the masters of Doom Metal have unleashed a monolithic opus worthy of the title “Death Magic Doom” (perhaps a gibe at Metallica’s “Death Magnetic”).
The opening hymn “If I Ever Die” launches abruptly into the band’s newer, more aggressive style characteristic of their eponymous 2003 rebirth. The instantly memorable first riff sets a higher standard, maintained all the way to the album’s conclusion. Despite their doomy classification, Candlemass aren’t afraid to pick up the pace. This creates dynamic contrasts that diversify the album’s moods. Such creative energy combined with a thick and crushing production creates a relentless showcase welcome to the modern listener. Gone are the atmosphere and reverbed-to-the-max snare drums of “Nightfall.” But this departure doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten their roots and their diehard fans.

This change is most evident in the vocal department. Rob Lowe has at last settled into his new role, matching the music’s more abrasive approach. Messiah Marcolin’s operatics better suited the epic style of the 80’s albums, but seemed out of place on the self-titled album. Lowe, on the other hand, never overpowers the instruments, finding his place within the music rather than in counterpoint to it. Still, he sings his heart out, running the gamut of emotions, from sadness to hatred to malevolence. Though an objectively weaker vocalist, he sounds more human.

And Lowe isn’t the only musician who gives it his all. Jan Lindh’s drumwork is marvelous, ranging from triumphal marches, to rocking grooves to, well, downright doominess! Even after 25 years, Leif Edling perfects the art of the guitar riff from the bass on up. The Dantean lyrical themes, demonstrated at this review’s opening, are nothing original, but appropriate for a band whose works are as timeless (to a true Metal fan) as the Divine Comedy itself.

And that leads us to songwriting. “Death Magic Doom” shines brightest in its choruses, where the time shifts and the anthems ring. This is most apparent in “The Bleeding Baroness” and especially “Dead Angel,” where Lowe, at a haunting pitch, is in dialogue with the lead guitar. One of Candlemass’ classic strengths is the subtle use of synths and samples, here with the hellish bells chiming in the crusher “Hammer of Doom.” All these unique qualities aside, this is a Heavy Metal tour de force.

With this release, their best since 1989’s “Tales of Creation,” the rebirth of Candlemass has reached its triumphant climax, reasserting the band’s place at the pinnacle of Doom Metal and, in the shadow of Black Sabbath, one of the greatest Metal bands of all time. 



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