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Candlemass: Death Magic Doom

Death Magic Doom surpasses its predecessor, King of the Grey Islands, in several aspects, songwriting being the most important one. It is a doomier release with a heavier focus on achieving atmosphere, and is blessed with stronger production. It is a lot more organic sounding, boasting a great degree of dynamics in the arrangements and revealing more details upon repeat listens.

Leif Edling has composed one of the most diverse Candlemass albums to date. This is not full-on Doom Metal. Rather, it moves from doomy sounds to melodic phrases to more aggressive numbers. The writing is truly varied and inspired. On a tune like "If I Ever Die," they weave uptempo guitar rhythms with melodically gripping vocal harmonies and throaty a capella vocals while "Hammer of Doom" is their nod to Black Sabbath. It is populated with myriad elements, from hellish bells chiming to slow, grinding riffs to angry vocals and abrasive fretwork. This is easily the doomiest cut on the album.

The guitar work is phenomenal, perhaps the best in years. Lars Johansson and Mats Björkman once again prove they are the strongest guitar duo in Doom Metal. The lead solos on "The Bleeding Baroness" and "House of 1000 Voices" are trance-like. They send chills up and down the spine and only get better with each listen. They are built very patiently, allowing Lowe to set the tone as he 'duels' with the guitar lines atop Edling's fat bass lines. "The Bleeding Baroness" features an indelible bass figure in the beginning which crops up in the mid-section before an insanely melodic chorus is delivered. Likewise, "House of 1000 Voices" boasts an indestructible opening riff that would make the crowds go wild if Candlemass were to open their shows with it. As the riff progression changes, so does Lowe's tone; he starts singing an octave lower than usual capturing an evil sound -- you've never heard him sing like this before. Then there is the silvery solo; first guitar, then bass, and the guitar again. Fantastic.

These two songs are separated by the secret hit of the album, "Demon of the Deep." At first, this one comes across as filler, but in time, you get to discover its brilliance. The creepy acoustic guitars and death-embracing riffs achieve a unique atmosphere. The vocals in the beginning are powerful beyond words. The guitar sounds like it was tuned deliberately off-key, which lends the piece an extra dimension. It is deep and searing. The discreet organ sounds beneath the main melody are sublime too. All of this is contrasted by quite a melodic vocal passage -- simply perfect.

"Dead Angel" is arguably the catchiest and fastest Candlemass song ever. Though I can't say I am fully convinced it deserves a place on this platter, the rather lengthy instrumental break is worth checking out nevertheless. As the band retreats into doomy sounds with "Clouds of Dementia," the trade-off between guitars and bass also commands your attention as does the bleak acoustic intro of "My Funeral Dreams," which is comprised of glacial riffs mixed with faster-paced stanzas and an infectious chorus.

Robert Lowe joined Candlemass shortly before the band started recording King of the Grey Islands, which was written with Messiah Marcolin on mind. Though he did a great job on it, on this record, he gets to demonstrate his talents as a singer to a greater extent. And although he is not credited for any of the songs, it is obvious Leif Edling composed the material to suit his style perfectly. This album sees his most diverse vocal performance to date. Never before has he sung so aggressively and melodically at the same time. He tries a capella vocals, he lets out deep snarling screams, he whispers -- he does it all. And whatever he does, he gives the songs a raw, palpable energy. This album is his pinnacle from a vocal standpoint.

If you want to buy only one Doom Metal album in 2009, this is it.

Track Listing

  1. If I Ever Die
  2. Hammer of Doom
  3. The Bleeding Baroness
  4. Demon of the Deep
  5. House of 1000 Voices
  6. Dead Angel
  7. Clouds of Dementia
  8. My Funeral Dreams

Added: May 18th 2009
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Candlemass website
Hits: 1447
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Candlemass: Death Magic Doom
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-05-18 09:58:18
My Score:

With Death Magic Doom, Candlemass have finally closed the coffin on the Messiah Marcolin years for good. Sure, albums like Nightfall and Ancient Dreams are classics of the doom metal genre, but when the creative spark of the band started to wane in the early 90's, Messiah's vocals started to stand out as fairly one dimensional and over the top for over the top's sake. With their second album with Solitude Aeturnus frontman Robert Lowe in the vocal slot, Candlemass have their second wind, Death Magic Doom, along with their previous effort King of the Grey Islands, being their strongest efforts in 20 years. The music is heavier, more focused, and more powerful than anything from the last handful of releases of the Marcolin era, Lowe perfectly fitting into this band and helping Candlemass rise once again to the top of the doom ranks.

There's no shortage of prime, evil riffs here on songs like "Hammer of Doom", "The Bleeding Baroness", "House of 1000 Voices", and "My Funeral Dreams", and what's really the icing on the cake are the testosterone driven lead guitar solos from Lars Johansson that litter most of these tunes. Lars delivers plenty of red hot leads dripping with technique, his tone helped by some tasty distortion and wah-wah in spots.

End result is close to an hour of behemoth doom, as only this band can deliver. Hard to imagine that both Candlemass and Heaven & Hell have released stunning doom metal CDs within 2 weeks of each other here in 2009, and the metal world is indeed a better place for it!


» Reader Comments:

Candlemass: Death Magic Doom
Posted by Joel Israel on 2009-05-14 22:34:26
My Score:

Hmmm. I suspect the reviewer was referring more to "dynamics" in a musical, artistic, or creative sense, rather than dynamic range in a purely scientific, sonic sound-wave manner. Just a thought. Great disc for fans of the old-school Candlemass from the late eighties....great doom disc. Peace, Joel

Candlemass: Death Magic Doom
Posted by ??? on 2009-05-05 18:49:34
My Score:

I analyzed the dynamic range of the cd and every song is in the red in both channels at least 20% of the time in every song. So much for all that dynamic range!!! I realize this is certainly a revelation after the abysmally recorded Lucifer Rising E.P., but hardly a final result deserving praise!




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