Release Date: 22/02/19
Record Label: Napalm Records
For Fans Of: Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Pentagram
Long before Conan, Pallbearer, or Electric Wizard ever brought their various brands of Doom to the world, there was Candlemass. Although a large portion of the credit for their sound goes to Black Sabbath and Pentagram, of course, it wasn’t until the classic ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’ in 1986 that a name was given to this fuzzed up, down-tuned, brand of metal. You can’t really get much more influential than having an entire sub-genre of music being named after your album! Despite its status, John Langqvist was only a member of the band for the recording of that album and departed shortly afterwards. Now however after 36 years, Langqvist is reunited with Candlemass visionary, lead songwriter and bassist, Leif Edling for the recording of their twelfth studio album, The Door To Doom.
This is a rather apt title for the record as it turns out; if you hadn’t listened to any sort of Doom Metal before, you could do a lot worse than start here. It manages to hit the sweet spot of being an old-school doom riff-a-thon, soaked in atmosphere with plenty of variety and so avoids becoming too repetitive; a common pitfall for the genre. ‘Under The Ocean’ being the prime example of this on the record as phasing, wavy guitar lines capture what it might sound like trapped in the depths of the sea and ‘Astorolus – The Great Octopus’ moves at the same glacial pace and with the same amount of dread that you might expect from a great cephalopod hellbent on destruction. As if the track couldn’t get any heavier, it also features a guest guitar solo from none other than Tony Iommi which adds an extra level of sheen and class.
It might be obvious to point out the Sabbath worship all over this record, but when ‘House Of Doom’ begins with the sound of a tolling church bell in a rainstorm before launching into a riff which could well be an alternate take of ‘Children of the Grave’, it feels like that is exactly what Edling was hoping to achieve. Along with ‘Black Trinity’ and ‘The Omega Circle’, these final three songs feel like almost back to basics doom as they lumber along with slower to mid-tempo riffs with psychedelic melodies layered on top. Despite this, Candlemass aren’t afraid to experiment a little on the The Door to Doom with ‘Bridge of the Blind’ being a full-on ballad with a far more folky and classic rock feel which is surprisingly bright and sunny, making excellent use of the returning Langqvist’s almost operatic voice, providing an extra dimension alongside the oppressive mood which permeates throughout most of the record. This doesn’t last long though as ‘Death’s Wheel’ raises the tempo once more with an infectious fist-pumping groove that should have everyone banging their heads.
The Door to Doom features Candlemass living up to their revered status in the genre by crafting interesting, varied and simply brilliant doom metal. Variety is really what makes the record stand out; the band never dwell in one place for too long but linger just long enough to swallow you up, showing the true mastery of the genre the band possesses. There aren’t many bands putting out records of this quality this far into their careers; it might be 33 years since Edling and Langqvist’s last (and only) Candlemass release together, but it certainly seems to be a pairing that works beautifully.
Recommended Tracks: Death’s Wheel, House of Doom