Candlemass – “Green Valley Live” CD + DVD / 2 LP (Peaceville)
Battle Helm Rating
The return of Sweden’s doom gods! Where other bands have hunkered down or thrown in the towel in the face of the pandemic, this legendary outfit have instead turned their first live stream event into this superb live album capturing 12 of their best tracks taken from across their career. Joined by original vocalist Johan Längqvist, the brilliant sound captures the syrup thick downtuned riffs of Mats Björkman and Lars Johansson, while Leif Edling’s heftily hewn bass growls like a beast of its own on classic numbers like ‘Well Of Souls’ and ‘Mirror Mirror’. Joined by special guest Tony Iommi on their last album, “The Door To Doom”, it’s easy to see why Candlemass are acknowledged as being worthy successors to the genre defining Black Sabbath and as Jan Lindh’s drums pound the funeral plod to ‘Bewitched’, Längqvist wails in the classic doom melancholia to this doom almighty headbanger that hasn’t lost any of its mustiness since 1986. Crunching and chugging in on ‘Dark Are The Veils Of Death’, Längqvist soars and exudes his vocal power as the guitars and bass mix it up thickly to really add in the power to this energised performance, even under lockdown conditions, showing the band have lost none of their hunger and as the slow, driving headbanging mid song passage hits, you cannot but help freak out too as Lindh pumps in his double bass drums while the twin axes squeal and howl brilliantly. Without a doubt one of my favourite songs from 2019’s release, ‘Astorolus – The Great Octopus’, which indeed featured Iommi’s dark touch, proves how the Candlemass of the here and now is indeed true to its glorious past, and as Längqvist stretches his pipes to almost operatic portions to match the reverb riffs and melancholic funeral melodies exquisitely topped off by pure heavy metal soloing, the doom crunch continues to bite in the background like Cerebrus itself unleashed. A magnificent and thoroughly enjoyable release amply demonstrating that even after 35 years of existence, the hand of darkness still reaches out from Candlemass….