Doom metal titans Candlemass are back for their first album since before the apocalypse of 2020. I used to be a big fan of the band in my youth, but will admit I have dropped off them in recent years. So, when this album came across our emails, I was desperate to check it out! Without further ado, let’s do this!
The opener, ‘Wizard of the Vortex’, is awesome. Alongside having the most doom metal, Candlemass song title ever, that riff is amazing. It runs through the majority of the track and is the definite highlight. However, Johan Längqvist’s Bruce Dickinson/Blaze Bailey style vocals are a fantastic touch over the top. I know the band have been through a vocalists over the years and most will gravitate to Messiah, but in my opinion Johan is at least a very close second. He adds a power and catchiness that pushes the band past the typical doom metal scene and into something greater. The lead guitar parts were also phenomenal, and the quiet vocal outro was amazing. A great way to open the album, and a track that easily makes the playlist.
The title track keeps it heavy, upping the pace ever so slightly with another sludgy, evil riff. Mats “Mappe” Björkman is an honestly underrated as fuck rhythm guitarist. I’d put him up there with the likes of Hetfield and Adrien Smith, personally. And, of course, band leader and bassist Leif is just as good at ever at writing some of the evilest riffs out there. Honestly everything about this track is incredible as once again Lars’ lead lines are insane. Another underrated player. And Jan keeps the groove and sludgy pace perfectly on the drums. If you are going to listen to any track on the album, or by this band if you are new to them from this article, check this out. It’s catchy and at <4 minutes pretty accessible, as well as being a good song and a great showcase of the band’s talent. Another to make the playlist!
The band just keep slapping out fantastic slow riff after fantastic slow riff with the opening of ‘Angel Battle’. They’re so far like 7/7 for awesome riffs. When the track kicks in and picks up the pace a little it sounds amazing, almost fitting into a NWOBHM sound. However, the sludge of the other part is just as fantastic. I really cannot stop gushing over this band, can I? This is another amazing track because of course it is, it’s Candlemass. The stripped back bridge was nice, with the cleaner guitars and low vocals. It then results in the heavy riff packing an even bigger, malicious punch when to comes back in. A great song, I forgot how much I love this band!
By the time ‘Black Butterfly’ rolled around I’ve started to run out of things to say that won’t make me sound like the little fangirl I am. It was another awesome doom metal song. I liked the added touch of dynamics in ‘When Death Sighs’ where the verses were mainly just a simple guitar chug and the vocals. Again, it made the riff even more impactful when the whole band came in. The chorus is also very catchy, especially with the dual vocals and key-change in the final one. Avatarium’s own Jennie Ann-Smith sounds amazing doing the high harmony. The drop-out to just drums in ‘Scandinavian Gods’ was also awesome, and it was nice to hear the solid beat be so focused on. All three tracks are incredible and I love them all; but outside of the points I have spoken about here, they’re much of the same as the previous three tracks.
Next up is the album’s prog song, ‘Devil Voodoo’. Opening on an acoustic guitar, subtle string and Johan’s powerful voice. It all still sounds dark and evil, though. Before a minute into the track a surprisingly quick riff kicks in, again giving off NWOBHM vibes. The awesome backing vocal harmonies are back for the chorus, adding so much dynamic and catchiness to it all.
The heavy bridge is a lot of fun, especially with the faster bass drum. It also leads us back to a reprise of the opening acoustics. Honestly, I’d have loved them to last even longer, but can’t exactly argue when instead we get a heavy riff and blistering, amazing guitar solo instead. The whole track went by in a flash, it definitely didn’t feel like nearly eight minutes. Everything was given time to breathe perfectly, but I’d have also happily taken another two plus minutes of it! Playlisted!
The slow open of ‘Crucified’ is fun, and it’s another infectiously catchy chorus. The doom AF riff for the bridge is also incredible, especially with the bell and the solo going on over the top. And while I have nothing specific to say about ‘Goddess’, it’s still a great track. By this point the doom fatigue had set in just a tiny bit, but I still found myself interested and enjoying each song. And the final track, ‘A Cup of Coffin’, is simply a minute of an amazing riff followed by some applause and cheering. While the cheering is probably tongue in cheek, I honestly think it’s pretty deserved here, what a fantastic close to a fantastic album.
Overall: Wow. I have to admit I dropped off from checking the band out for a good few years, since I was a teenager really, but damn if this hasn’t brought my love for the band right back again. The riffs were incredible, the vocals great and catchy, and the song writing as a whole was top notch. This is the very evolution of the metal genre that Black Sabbath started all those years ago. It’s sludgy, heavy, evil greatness. I’m going to have to go back and check out what I missed by them now. It’s definitely up there with some of the top albums of the year!
The Score: 9/10