Candlemass


Nightfall

Candlemass - Nightfall ©1987 Metal Blade
1. Gothic Stone
2. The Well Of Souls
3. Codex Gigas
4. At The Gallows End
5. Samarithan
6. Marche Funèbre
7. Dark Are The Veils Of Death
8. Mourners Lament
9. Bewitched
10. Black Candles

Candlemass was arguably the most compelling early doom metal band in the 1980s. Their promising debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, while underproduced, clearly showed leader Leif Edlin's talent for slow, ponderous, menacing dirges. However, it lacked a permanent vocal personality that would clearly make Candlemass stand out from the throng of Black Sabbath-influenced bands that were emerging at the time.

Enter vocalist Messiah "I'm bigger than you" Marcolin. In addition to his physical heft, which added weight to the then-standard view of heavy music, his incredible operatic voice, powerful enough to stop a raging Västergötland elk in its tracks, was exactly what Candlemass needed to really make its mark. The production and tempo have picked up since Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and Marcolin's manic vibrato shines throughout a collection of melodic and memorable songs about dying, death, being dead (and sorely missed for it), being about to die, and witchcraft.

A defining moment for Candlemass, Nightfall is a must-have for anybody who enjoys oppressive-yet-melodic metal or for fans of stupendous vocals in general (which the band couldn't handle anymore after a while, as they later fired Marcolin in a commercially and artistically blighted attempt at crossing over into more mainstream metal).

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 06/2001

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Ancient Dreams

Candlemass - Ancient Dreams ©1988 Metal Blade
1. Mirror, Mirror
2. A Cry From The Crypt
3. Darkness In Paradise
4. Incarnation Of Evil
5. Bearer Of Pain
6. Ancient Dreams
7. The Bells Of Acheron
8. Epistle No. 81
9. Black Sabbath Medley

Candlemass was one of the earlier Swedish doom bands, taking a healthy dose of Black Sabbath and adding a vocalist trained in opera. The result is a moderately interesting album that was not particularly Candlemass's most defining moment, but still enjoyable for doom enthusiasts. (Can one be enthusiastic about such morose music? Stay tuned to this website for more...)

Ancient Dreams is far from a perfect album. Its biggest problem is a fairly thin guitar sound that doesn't quite convey any proper doom feeling. Though Black Sabbath is the obvious influence in their sound, the guitars lack that bite and overwhelming wave of sound Tony Iommi had. The second problem is that about half of the album contains weak songwriting. Songs like "A Cry from the Crypt", "Incarnation of Evil" and "Bearer of Pain" drudge along like a convoy of retirees in Winnebagos and sound tedious rather than gloomy. At times, you have to wonder if drummer Jan Lindh catches a snooze in between beats as this music moves so slowly. But on the flipside, the title track, "Mirror, Mirror" and "The Bells of Acheron" are able to work a strong melody (though singing skill is really not an issue here with Messiah Marcolin). The CD version of this album contains a Black Sabbath medley and you get the feeling these guys probably spent a lot of time playing their influence's songs in the practice space. Overall, I get the feeling one might get a better taste of Candlemass on either of their two previous albums, Nightfall or the classic Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (or however that album's title goes).

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2000

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Tales Of Creation

Candlemass - Tales Of Creation ©1989 Powerline Records
1. The Prophecy
2. Dark Reflections
3. Voices In The Mind
4. Under The Oak
5. Tears
6. Into The Unfathomed Tower
7. The Edge Of Heaven
8. Somewhere In Nowhere
9. Through The Infinitive Halls Of Death
10. Dawn
11. A Tale Of Creation

The final of Powerline Record's hugely welcomed Candlemass re-issues, Tales of Creation, is also the final entry in a series of vintage late 80s Candlemass albums. If it still sounds vital today in the year 2003 (and it does), it is because the sharp, bright, and clear remastering illuminates the band in both its slow, dirging musical depths as well as its lofty crests with equal distinction. The production is, in a word, mighty.

But lest we forget that Candlemass was, of course, simply a cut above. When Tales of Creation was originally released in 1989, there were murmurings that the band, having perhaps arguably reached a creative peak with 1988's Nightfall, had run its course. That may have been, (shortly thereafter Leif Edling re-organized the band dramatically), but most of the songs on Creation actually pre-date Candlemass's first album, so whether or not the creative impetus for this band was dying, it is quite irrelevant in criticizing the songs on their own merit.

If nothing else, the bonus CD containing the album's "original" versions from Leif's days in Nemesis demonstrates how amply the band tranforms those skeletons into beautiful, meticulous architecture. No Candlemass review is complete without particular attention paid to Messiah Marcolin, the brilliant vocalist wrapped in a monk's garb. Like any good fourteenth-century choir leader, the man is built like a refrigerator, and must have some long, long lungs. Messiah's commitment to The Vibrato is as much on display here as on any Candlemass album, and I do not think it is too much to say that his version of "Under the Oak" is very nearly bliss (and, if I may add, one of my favorite musical moments, ever). He leaves a heavy mark as well on "The Edge of Heaven" and the magnificent title track, the restrained, flowing melody of which is the very definition of mellifluous. This stuff is the epitome of the classic, epic doom style; at its best, it rumbles along slowly, teeming with portent, detail, and purpose. I think it's like Black Sabbath in a tuxedo.

The album suffers very slightly from lack of coherence; "Into the Unfathomable Tower", with its inexplicable seven sub-tracks (it's a three-minute instrumental!) is pretty cool, but strange, while "Dark Reflections" is an unexciting, even underpar addition. Yet perhaps allowances can be for even these; they're two of the faster tracks, and perhaps its wise to sustain some variation.

In the liner notes, Leif admonishes himself a number of times for pretentiousness. It's okay: we forgive you. Perfecting a genre of music is serious work.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 07/2003

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