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Album Reviews : Candlemass – Death Magic Doom

By on March 17, 2009

Candlemass have been the absolute pinnacle of doom metal since their very first release back in 1986 and despite disbanding twice, a handful of stylistic alterations and several lineup changes, they have also remained one of the most consistent bands in existence. Now up to their tenth studio album, the blatantly titled ‘Death Magic Doom’ is yet another fantastic release to add to their still faultless discography.

‘Death Magic Doom’ sees Candlemass stretch their music toward both extremes with the appropriately named “Hammer of Doom” being perhaps one of their most straightforward doom tracks in recent years, while “If I Ever Die” and “Dead Angel” fly along at speeds rarely associated with the genre. It’s this great balance of speeds that makes the band’s last few albums a perfect starting point for those not yet familiar with doom in general, rather than jumping straight into the slothful deep end.

If you enjoyed 2007’s ‘King of the Grey Islands’ then there is no reason to not love the newie. There is a slightly larger focus on the lead guitars, with some of Johansson’s best work to date, and Lowe’s vocals are even more prominent than before. But at the end of the day, the sound is undeniably Candlemass. The production is, thankfully, very similar to the previous album and retains the heaviness that it makes it oh-so grand when you turn it up. The writing is just as solid as ever, with the previously mentioned increase in leads making it just that bit more interesting than past work and, as has become tradition for them, there is not a single moment of filler.

Keeping with another band tradition, the album opens with the fastest track on there. “If I Ever Die” gallops along at a speed which makes their Dio-era Sabbath influence more obvious than ever. Some fantastic ‘solo’ vocals from Lowe in the middle, and some very interesting guitar-work make this a perfect opener. Jumping straight to the opposite end of the spectrum, ‘Hammer of Doom’ (also the original title for the album, before it was changed due to a German festival having the same name) plods along in an extremely basic yet enjoyable fashion, but explodes back into action to finish off. An instant highlight for me, “The Bleeding Baroness” features some of the catchiest vocal lines from the band yet, while “Demon of the Deep” contains some fantastic clean guitars which I would love to see the band utilise more often. The longest track “House of 1,000 Voices” doesn’t have anything particularly special about it but is very solid nonetheless, and the short but sweet “Dead Angel” has a chorus with definite singalong potential. “Clouds of Dementia” reminds me, in parts, a bit too much of “Emperor of the Void” off the bands previous album, perhaps due to the vocal melodies, but is enjoyable nonetheless. And the groovy “My Funeral Dreams” finishes off the album nicely with a truly scrumptious guitar solo.

I wasn’t sure the band could top their spectacular 2007 release, but they’ve done just that. I couldn’t think of a better follow up. ‘Death Magic Doom’ is catchier, more varied, more interesting and generally just better written, which is a real accomplishment. But I’m going to say it again anyway, I will be amazed if they can top this one. Let’s hope they prove me wrong again. 9.5/10

Band: Candlemass
Album: Death Magic Doom
Year: 2009
Genre: Doom Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Origin: Sweden
myspace.com/candlemass

Track listing:
1. If I Ever Die
2. Hammer of Doom
3. The Bleeding Baroness <- Reviewers choice
4. Demon of the Deep
5. House of 1,000 Voices
6. Dead Angel
7. Clouds of Dementia
8. My Funeral Dreams

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.