CANDLEMASS are probably my all-time favourite Doom Metal band ever. And even though I love the Messiah Marcolin era, I have had to come to terms with the big schnitzel-devouring hairball being gone for good. But American Robert Lowe has proved both in SOLITUDE AETURNUS and the last CANDLEMASS disc “King Of The Grey Islands” that there would be no momentum lost. “Death Magic Doom” now continues several traditions of the past few years, some positive and some a little less, my main gripe being the artwork, which once again is a far cry from the masterpieces of “Nightfall” or “A Tale Of Creation”, but rather a not-so-great cover, if the music is right, no?
Well, and here the positive traditions come into play, because “Death Magic Doom” is the next one in a very long line of high quality releases and this time around the gentlemen from Sweden have created a formidable slab of melancholy and the title of second track “Hammer Of Doom” is equally clichéd and fitting, for the songs contained are hitting with the force of a devastating hammer, while maintaining the melodies that CANDLEMASS are so renowned for. And actually when I listened to the album for the first time, at first I was not even sure I had the right CD in the player, because “If I Ever Die” is one of the fastest tracks the Stockholm-based band has ever written, a little in the vein of “Black Dwarf” off the previous effort, but Speed Doom does not have to be something bad, quite the contrary, because the riff of this track is purely divine and will not let you go any time soon, so much is for sure!
And then comes the truly monolithic “Hammer Of Doom”, which lives up to its name, weighty, massive, powerful, any references to lava are more than fitting, as the song oozes out of the speakers with this viscous quality that will put the uninitiated to sleep and will induce an almost hypnotic state of trance in the Doomheads of the world, but not without a powerful mid-paced section that will get the attention back in a snap. After “The Bleeding Baroness” brings is epic Doom at its best, “Demon Of The Deep” cranks up the melancholy and bleakness level with a haunting tale from the depths of the ocean. What strikes me even more than on “King Of The Grey Islands”, ever since Messiah’s departure CANDLEMASS seem to be able to show more variety within the songs, there is more aggression, more faster passages than before, as “Dead Angel” is somewhat up-tempo, as is the bonus track on the American version of “Death Magic Doom”, “Lucifer Rising”, and maybe that is part of why the band seems to have partially reinvented itself a little to avoid staleness and potential dredging along of old baggage.
One song that has continuously garnered criticism for its repetitiveness of its chorus was “Lucifer Rising”, but combined with the energy that the song has, it actually does not hold any annoyance for me, but is one of the reasons, why I enjoy it so much, as it has this urgency to it, as if the invocation is almost complete and the Dark Lord is about to emerge from down below.
Overall “Death Magic Doom” is yet another masterpiece by the Swedish Doom legends and shows that even old dogs still can learn some new tricks and master them better than the vast majority of young ones. 2009 seems to be shaping up to be a great year in Doom, with MY DYING BRIDE and THE PROPHECY already having release outstanding albums, now CANDLEMASS are right up there, too. This is Doom and you have to have it!
(Online May 18, 2009)