The Doomsday Kingdom is a side-project idealized by Candlemass founder, lead songwriter and bassist Leif Edling. Leif is well known in the metal community for being a multi-instrumentalist, master songwriter and occasional producer, having appeared and collaborated in acts such as Avatarium, Witchcraft, Krux, Hexenhaus and Nemesis, not to mention his self-named band. In this new output, Leif – using the moniker “The Doomfather” (which is very hard to contradict) – recruited some heavy hitters of the metal scene for the debut album. Alongside him are Andreas Johansson (drums for Narnia, Rob Rock, Royal Hunt), Marcus Jidell (Avatarium, ex-Evergrey, ex-Royal Hunt, Candlemass [live]) and the powerhouse Niklas “Viper” Stålvind (vocals for Wolf).
‘The Doomsday Kingdom’ will hit the shelves on March 31st via Nuclear Blast and continue where their demo EP ‘Never Machine’ left off. Crunchy and low guitars, surgical drumming, gritty vocals and Leif’s signature bass lines are plentiful here, and while a big label grabbed the band by the balls, the production and mixing are very much like when he launched his EP independently: raw, organic and highly atmospheric. The songwriting wasn’t harmed in the process either, and despite not being top-notch at times, is highly satisfactory. Opener “Silent Kingdom” illustrates this well, with a good amount of attitude in the leads and the chorus and a very cool little story inside the lyrics. The mid pace of the song helps build a strong and healthy level of excitement, and the performance of the members leave nothing to complain.
“Never Machine” incorporates the classic, slow-to-mid tempo doom metal, with haunting melodies and dark atmosphere. Again showcasing intelligent lyrics, the song is an epitome of all that is doom metal; it has that late 70’s Black Sabbath vibe so welcomed by the genre, and added to the raw production makes for a really good display. “A Spoonful of Darkness” could be better, as the chorus and the bridge are not that appealing and the rhythm section is just passable.
Curiously enough – and understandable, giving the fact that Leif Edling is a master of atmospheric songwriting – the instrumental track “See You Tomorrow” is by far the most interesting of the bunch. This here is why Leif calls himself “The Doomfather”: the instrumental performance is grandiose and spot-on, with piano and other atmospheric elements intertwining perfectly with the unorthodox construction to form a warm yet haunting aura.
Follow-up “The Sceptre” tells a story about a war between two queens – one Red, one Black. With a dense start and a prolific fingered solo that makes the song unique and highly enjoyable, it’s constructed between a well-crafted slower passage and a strong and dark chorus. “Hand of Hell” portrays the heavier side of the album, with Halford-esque riffs and a more prominent and direct approach; this is a good track to break the dense and mournful climate built throughout the effort, and it works wonders as an unpretentious and just downright fun song.
The two longest bits of the album – “The Silence” and “The God Particle” – close the endeavor,. The first one is a classic heavy/doom song, where the toned-down guitars and the aggressiveness of the vocals dictate the rhythm. But the depressive section also kicks in at the mid-portion of the tune to further consolidate the macabre and funeral background. “The God Particle” is not that good of a song, however. It kind of drags on to the end by being too slow in some parts, and doesn’t quite offer much in terms of performance and overall songwriting. The ballad portion of the track does a decent job of being sorrowful and gloomy, but at the end of the day, it’s just a forgettable tune.
All in all, The Doomsday Kingdom’s self-titled album, much like the EP that preceded it, is a personal journey into the catacombs of Leif’s mind. I give the band special points for not crumbling to a label’s needs and demands, and releasing such a pleasing record in the process. It’s not without its flaws and in reality is inferior to ‘Never Machine’ – mainly because the best song in that EP, “The Whispering’, is not here and some song choices didn’t quite matched the whole concept of the effort. But, it is very balanced and definitely worth checking out. Leif continues to give lessons on how to make quality doom metal and, by the look of it, will continue to do so for a long time.