Having just released four consecutive classics of Doom, CANDLEMASS decided that it was time for a change. Bassist, band leader and songwriter Leif Edling went up to vocalist extraordinaire Messiah Marcolin and said something along the lines of “hey man, would you mind turning down that vibrato thing a bit on the next record?”, to which Messiah emphatically responded…“goodbye!”
Oh, what to do now ?
Well, instead of calling it quits, the band brought in new vocalist Tomas Vikström and recorded “Chapter VI,” the first CANDLEMASS album to not be considered an essential Doom Metal release. The faults of the album aren’t due to the lack of Messiah, though. The band’s debut and arguably their finest moment, “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus,” was written without Messiah, so they’d shown from the beginning that they could write quality tunes without having the big fella around. The problem wasn’t with Vikström, either; though his attempts to hit Messiah-esque high notes are downright cringe-worthy at times, Vikström sure is a competent vocalist, sounding pretty much like what you would expect to hear in your run-of-the-mill 80’s Heavy Metal band. No, the problem here is just plain lackluster song writing. CANDLEMASS have written loads of incredible songs, both with and without Messiah, but none of them seem to have ended up on “Chapter VI.” From start to finish, the whole thing just sounds flat, like an uninspired CANDLEMASS going through the motions. There are some good riffs here and there and “Where The Runes Still Speak” is an above-average, pretty Epic-sounding song, but even there the band just sounds bored and tired.
“Chapter VI” is the least Doomy CANDLEMASS release and also the one that has the most 80’s Heavy Metal influences. The production is polished and a bit more accessible than the band’s past releases, but even that doesn’t help put the life into this album. It’s a shame, because unlike the band’s next release “Dactylis Glomerata,” which is a CANDLEMASS album only in name, the line-up of musicians on “Chapter VI” is the same as it had been since “Nightfall,” so you know that these guys are capable of more than this. In fact, Leif Edling has said many times that if he regrets anything in the history of CANDLEMASS, it’s the release of this album.
If you’re a CANDLEMASS fan and need to own the entire discography, by all means pick this up for your collection. Otherwise, unless you’re craving some sub-par Metal, pass over “Chapter VI.” (Online November 21, 2005)