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Candlemass: King of the Grey Islands

Sweden's purveyors of epic doom are back with their latest platter of crushing sonic mayhem, King of Grey Islands. Gone is longtime singer Messiah Marcolin, replaced by Solitude Aeturnus belter Rob Lowe, who turns out to be a very good choice, given that his distinct and different vocal approach brings a new freshness to the band. Those familiar with the great Solitude Aeturnus know that while the band's music is similar to Candlemass, Lowe's vocals are less operatic than Messiah's, and more rooted in classic metal vocal styles. King of the Grey Islands is one dark, heavy, and mystical affair, sure to please loyal fans and classic doom metal lovers of all ages.

Tunes like "Emperor of the Void" and the absolutely crushing "Devil Seed" kick things off in grand fashion, the latter quite possibly might be the heaviest piece this band has ever recorded, with snarling vocals from Lowe and brutally slow and grinding guitar riffs from Mats Bjorkman & Lars Johansson. "Of Stars and Smoke" is classic doom in the grand tradition of Black Sabbath, complete with Lowe's melodic & soaring vocals over heavy riffs and the plodding rhythm work from bassist Leif Edling and drummer Jan Lindh. This one segues into the faster, more evil "Demonia 6", a raging number helped along by effective vocals and some virtuoso guitar leads from Johansson. Solid mid-tempo doom can be heard on "Destroyer", which returns to the classic Candlemass sound but might be one of the least impressive tracks here. The same can be said for "Man of Shadows", a decent but ultimately unspectacular piece, but the band lurches back with "Clearlight", a divine slice of raging metal that reminds of Dio-era Sabbath with Lowe's high pitched wailings and plenty of monstrous riffage. The requisite Candlemass 'death march' on the album comes in the form of "The Opal City", a song that slows things down to a snails pace, and features HUGE riffs and harmonies from Bjorkman & Johansson, but it's basically an instrumental which leads into the massive "Embracing the Styx", just a tremendous slice of epic and symphonic doom. The slight keyboards in the background work great on this one, and you can hear them throughout the album, adding a bit of depth & color here and there.

It might not be the classic that Nightfall is, but King of the Grey Islands is just as good if not better than their self-titled release from 2005. Rob Lowe adds an interesting new element to the band, and their songwriting has taken on epic proportions here. While a couple of tunes miss the mark slightly, the majority of this one is simply killer stuff that will certainly have the metal community standing up, taking notice, and basking in the delicious thunder that King of the Grey Island will leave in its wake.

Track Listing
1. Prologue
2. Emperor Of The Void
3. Devil Seed
4. Of Stars And Smoke
5. Demonia 6
6. Destroyer
7. Man Of Shadows
8. Clearsight
9. The Opal City
10. Embracing The Styx

Added: June 26th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Candlemass Website
Hits: 5090
Language: english

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