REVIEW: CANDLEMASS – “The Door to Doom”
Candlemass is one of the greatest doom metal artists to have existed, and have pioneered and perfected the ‘epic doom’ sound. Having released one influential album after another, the band had decided to call it quits after their 2012 album ‘Psalms for the Dead’. Turns out they weren’t done yet. Candlemass released an EP in 2016 telling us that they still have the creative fire burning. 2019 will see their first full-length since the supposed finale, ‘The Door to Doom’.
Firstly, Johan Längquist, the guy who did the guest vocals on ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’ and absolutely slayed it, is back on vocal duty here! Having gone multiple vocalist changes, being able to get the vocalist that added so much to the iconic sound of Candlemass is a good way to return. Does he sound as emotive and orchestral as he did in the debut? Well, I think that the music did not provide the same kind of playground to push in that direction, like the debut album did. You might have observed the stylistic changes in the Candlemass releases over the years. Their recent offerings has a lot more deviation from the slow epic riffing, as they bring in a more mid-paced heavy/power metal style into the music. That is something that you observe on this record as well. This does not mean that Johan’s vocals were anywhere close to disappointing. There are a bunch of belters here to show that bringing him back was a pretty worthwhile decision.
Coming to the rest of the music, Candlemass still goes for the epic sound even though they are not consistently doomy. Honestly the best parts of this album is when they slow down for the guitar solo, and you have the blazing melodies of the lead with the heavy doom riffs underneath. The unfortunate part there is that the riffs sound a little buried, and I would have liked to hear the band linger on these riffs a bit longer. Everytime a track slows down, I get glimpses of the old Candlemass I’ve been longing, before we get back to the mid-pacing riffing, which I’m not as inclined towards. This is most clearly noticed with the track “House of Doom”, where the chorus and verse are in a faster groove, and the middle and outro are just short but brilliant sections, the kind I’m never tired of hearing. There’s also more acoustic guitars in the album than what you would expect to hear on a Candlemass record. What hasn’t changed though is how gorgeous the guitar solos are.
‘The Door to Doom’ might be a departure, unsurprisingly, from the classic Candlemass style of epic doom metal, but the grandiosity has remained. The tracks are anthemic and bigger than life, and the guitar solos stand out. While ardent fans of the early records will not hold this in same regard, this is a decent album in isolation that will please old school fans in general. Favourite tracks on the record are “Astorolus – The Great Octopus” and “Under the Ocean”.