Candlemass – “The Door To Doom” (Napalm Records)
OMG, Johan Längqvist has returned to Candlemass after a 32 year hiatus! The original vocalist who sang on their legendary 1986 debut “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus”, Längqvist has been brought in again given the band’s strong desire to return to their roots – and brother, “The Door To Doom” certainly does that, with even Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi acknowledging the band’s contribution to the doom genre by providing a guest solo on ‘Astorolus – The Great Octopus’ – wow!! With the classic 1987 “Nightfall” line up back in the studio after years of touring, prepare yourselves for this amazing album that founder bassist Leif Edling has spared no expense whatsoever in the writing department, with 8 songs that richly bring together dark beauty, melancholic bliss and hammering headbanging heaviness in what must be the ultimate kickstart for these Swedish gods of doom. Längqvist has proven to be the perfect choice as he brings together elements of the band’s prior vocalists in Mats Levén, Robert Lowe and Messiah Marcolin, fitting the atmosphere of Edling’s stunning compositions while resonating incredible power, pitch and heartfelt passion from the contrasts of the smashing opener of ‘Splendor Demon Majesty’ (a blinding track that itself goes from funeral doom to rocking doom to epic doom!) to the melancholic ballad of ‘Bridge Of The Blind’, with its mix of delicate electric guitar work and acoustic tenderness. The rest of the album, however, sticks to the promise of being classic Candlemass doom with all of the tracks over the 6 minute mark, and while in some cases not as slow as in the past, here they are even more grimmer from the dirty twin guitars of Mats ‘Mappe’ Björkman and Lars Johansson, right down to Edling’s own balls deep reverberating bass. Just check out ‘Black Trinity’ with its syrup thick riffs rocking and rolling so evilly until the crescendo solos start to wail while Längqvist soars epicly as drummer Jan Lindh pounds to Edling’s grind. Even more nasty and dirty is ‘House Of Doom’, with Edling’s grunting bass contrasting starkly with Längqvist’s trippy soul and some stellar church organs before the guitars hit once again with their dexterous solos and even more wailing before closing grimly to the sound of an atoning church bell clanging ominously. Closing with 7 minutes of ‘The Omega Circle’ it’s pretty clear that when it comes to epic doom, Candlemass aren’t ready to relinquish any hold on their title, and this incredible track has it all in abundance, right from Längqvist’s powering pipes to the twisting guitars contrasting the catchy trippy chorus. In particular the savage way the heaviness crashes the ambient pieces makes this almost a mini doom concerto of many stylistic parts, brought vividly to life in what must be some of the finest guitar moments for both Björkman and Johansson, excelling in neo classical splendour, cosmic trips and heartbreaking melody. Thank you Leif Edling – you have closed the circle – and Candlemass are truly back in awesome style.