It’s always fun to dive deep into Bandcamp or Spotify or whatever music streaming app you use. I personally love finding those diamonds in the rough, especially brand new stuff. However, you can’t really only enjoy that stuff unless you’ve got some context for it. It’s always awesome to hear what our metal musicians are doing, but how can you really appreciate it unless you know where it came from? They say context doesn’t exist on the internet, so let’s have a nice little chat about Swedish doom lords Candlemass.
After six long years, the originators of Swedish doom are back. The band has been kicking it since 1984, and for their 35th anniversary they brought back their original vocalist, Johan Längqvist, who hasn’t been on any other record than their debut album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. The album is basically the classic lineup for the band plus Längqvist to bring back that original sound that immediately established them in the ranks of European metal in the 80s. The latest offering, The Door to Doom, is certainly a return to form for the band. It brings back the original epic doom sound that has become classic for the subgenre.
The record is great to listen to for a number of reasons. First, they’re a classic band for the genre. Even if you get more excited for brand new bands or for that second or third record from a growing band, it’s still always cool to see that classic band still kicking around. Rarely do you get to see a band release their 12th record, so there’s also a kind of novelty to it.
Second, this record is getting released at the same time as the traditional heavy metal revival is in full swing. With bands like Visigoth, Gatekeeper, and Haunt bringing back that old school sound, Candlemass is almost cashing in on the fad. Not to accuse this record of being a shameless cash grab at all, but it certainly is helpful that the traditional sound is making a comeback. And if you’re an original band producing that sound, get back out there and have some fun with it! Maybe you’ll pick up a few extra fans along the way and encourage people to continue their deep dives into the back catalogs of a band or genre.
While this record is chock full of awesome riffs in a more traditional mold, it would be difficult to look over the intro track “Splendor Demon Majesty”. Big power chords backed up by the crashing of cymbals lead directly into a steady and driving rhythm. There are flashes of soaring guitars during the bridges that harken back to simpler times in metal. This kind of production and songwriting lends itself to a big sound. Everything sounds like it was recorded using a giant wall of amps. It sounds like it was recorded from the soundboard in an arena. It’s a pretty fun sound that makes you want to put more patches on your battle jacket.
With all of that in mind, is this an amazing record? Unfortunately no. Nothing about this record is particularly mindblowing so it just can’t get quite over the top. But is this a fun and enjoyable record? Of course! If you’re a big Candlemass fan, you’re gonna enjoy this record. If you’re really into the comeback of traditional metal bands, you’re going to wonder how you’ve missed this band before. If you’re like me and sometimes you review an artist from debuts to new releases, The Door to Doom is a nice dessert at the end of your meal. And in a way, the record is a bit of a door to doom. If you’ve got a friend you think would be into doom, Candlemass is a great place to start.
The Door to Doom is out February 22nd via Napalm Records, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.