Having been a big fan of the Swedish Doom Metal legends for a long, long time, the anticipation of their 11th album in 28 years has been severely clouded by the troubling news that the band would be splitting up following the release, something that has since been toned down to “no more studio albums”, which is still kind of tragic, but at least better than losing this great band entirely.
“Psalms For The Dead” is the third album with SOLITUDE AETURNUS fronter Rob Lowe on the mic, and it is the logical continuation of “Death Magic Doom”, featuring a mix of at times surprisingly upbeat compositions, intense, epic Doom and even some bows towards the good old Seventies, at pretty much all times unmistakeably CANDLEMASS, though.
Opener “Prophet” is an example for fairly high speeds (for CANDLEMASS at least) without losing the band’s essence or legendary quality, forming some sort of counterpart to following “The Sound Of Dying Demons”, a viscous, eerie lump of Doom Metal with almost horror movie like atmosphere and effects on the keyboards, which could easily be featured in one of those old black and white movies from the 30s or 40s. “Waterwitch” definitely is a standout track here, with the Swedes paying homage to the grandmasters of Doom – BLACK SABBATH. Epic BS worship with Lowe’s characteristic vocals equals some of the purest Doom you’ve heard in a long time!
Basically no matter which track you pick, one word can be used to describe pretty much each of them: intense. Be it with Hammond organ or just pure viscous lava-like consistency or even faster as in phases of closing “Black As Time”, the Doom intensity permeates each song and immerses you into this bleak outlook of the world, showing that these old dogs still have plenty of creative life in them without resorting to playing it safe and rehashing their greatest hits, even when (or maybe because) they take a few steps back in time to show a stronger Seventies influence in some of the tracks. In this the band shows it’s true class of penmanship, by uniting these different approaches to Doom Metal into a varied yet cohesive and always characteristic album. Obviously, to have the vocal talents of Lowe helps this greatly, since he has one of the most distinctive voices you’ll find within the genre.
“Psalms For The Dead” is undeniably CANDLEMASS and the further the album progresses the clearer it gets that this band can’t just stop making music, it’s that plain and simple. The album shows so much class, finesse and freshness that it would be a waste of creative energies to let this just die down after this record, maybe we are lucky and Leif Edling will find some new fuel once a little time has passed and will grace us with a new CANDLEMASS album in the future, for now this is one Doom highlight that you just cannot pass up!
(Online May 24, 2012)