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Album Reviews : Candlemass – The Door To Doom

By on February 27, 2019

Candlemass are one of the iconic metal bands of yore, arguably coining the label ‘doom metal’ with 1986’s Sabbath-fuelled Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. Much of The Door to Doom is a throwback to an earlier time, a return to roots for a band with an on-and-off career that is decades long. Vocalist Johan Langquist is back for the first time since the aforementioned Epicus album delivering a damn good vocal performance that recalled Ronnie James Dio at his best while Tony Iommi himself provides a guest solo. Candlemass have succeeded at delivering an album that simultaneously sounds classic and modern while remaining heavy and uncompromising.

‘Splendour Demon Majesty’ sets the tone for the album with a dramatic and heavy opening. Soaring vocals and crushing guitars are the order of the day with a stand-out choral bridge. There is a sense of attitude that pervades this album, with riffs on ‘Astorolus’, ‘Death’s Wheel’, and ‘Black Trinity’ instilling the album with a sense of swagger, attitude and confidence. These big riffs are combined with strong choruses and melodic vocals that ensure things never get too boring and display the breadth of style at the band’s disposal. Lead guitar work is likewise excellent across the album, balancing out the slow doomy riffs with shredding solos. Special mention must of course go to the stellar guest solo from Tony Iommi on ‘Astorolus’, whose guitar tone is immediately recognisable and sounds phenomenal over the sauntering riffs of the song. A sense of atmosphere pervades the album as well, particularly regarding the openings of different songs. From the timpani and toms that open ‘Astorolus’ to the clanging bell that opens ‘House of Doom’ (though it is eerily similar to Metallica‘s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’), Candlemass display a keen sense for giving variety to individual tracks without disrupting the overall cohesion of the album.

There’s more than just straightforward trad doom on offer with this release. ‘Under the Ocean’ opens softly and reflectively, leading to an explosion of guitar work. There’s a great mix of calm and clean with distorted and chaotic on this track that recalls Dio-era Black Sabbath and the more recent Heaven and Hell incarnation of the same band. Likewise, ‘Bridge of the Blind’ opens with an acoustic section that shows off some fantastic acoustic and clean guitar timbres. As a short, melancholy song it provides a nice contrast to the more intense songs on either side of it. Closing track ‘The Omega Circle’ moves in a different direction with a creepy prog-inspired intro that recalls a doom-infused version of Dream Theater or King Crimson. It provides a nice flavour to the rest of the album, though it doesn’t quite work as effectively as a closer. The post-song reprise riff is cool but feels a little out of place, with the previous track ‘Hand of Doom’ closing off effectively, perhaps making it a better choice to round out the album. Moments like these are small blips on an otherwise excellent album, however.

Candlemass have demonstrated clearly that they’ve still ‘got it’ as a band. Putting out such a strong album so far into your career is no mean feat, and ideally it will provide a foundation with which they can build upon. While the band seem uncertain about the longevity of their musical future, one can only hope that there is more to come in the vein of The Door to Doom.

Band: Candlemass
Album: The Door To Doom
Year: 2019
Genre: Doom Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Origin: Sweden
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About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.