Another album for the creators of doom metal, Candlemass from Sweden. Having put your name under the birth of something new establishes you from the very beginning and such is the case with the Swedish gentlemen, for they write history since 1986 and never stop attracting respect from all fans of heavy music. It’s times when you simply have to admit that some things get better as years pass by, like the good old wine as some people say. I don’t know if Candlemass sound better to you all, but they surely mature in a very convincing way with each new release. The second birth of Candlemass begins in 2005 with the self-titled white album, when Messiah Marcolin did his last album with the band. Then his arrival brought the departure of the charismatic Robert Lowe from Solitude Aeturnus and since then, the band released ‘’King Of The Grey Islands’’, the ‘’Lucifer Rising’’ EP, ‘’Death Magic Doom’’ and this summer, it’s time for the eleventh full length entitled ‘’Psalms Of The Dead’’.
First of all, we have to state that at the current moment, Robert Lowe is history for the band, as he belongs no more to Candlemass. In his place, we will see Mats Leven, a yearly long friend of leader Leif Edling who has helped him with Abstrakt Algebra and Krux. Lowe managed to give a great performance on the album once more, but it was his live duties that were no match for the members’ expectances anymore. The Texan vocalist is the driving force behind the compositions of the album, which is rumored to be the last one Candlemass will ever do. Starting with ‘’Prophet’’, you can listen to him sound certain and with his familiar voice colour we have got him used since 1990 and his first Solitude Aeturnus album ‘’Into The Depths Of Sorrow’’. He is not so impressive and high pitched as he was then, but he remains a singer with experience, knowing when to raise his voice and when to ease things a bit. Having seen him live four times, it’s quite hard to accept he can no longer offer what Candlemass want, but since Leif decides, who am I to disagree?
‘’The Sound Of Dying Demons’’ and ‘’Dancing In The Temple (Of The Mad Queen Be) are tracks which apart from their great titles, set a variation on the nine tracks, while ‘’Prophet’’ was an initial up tempo track for the likes of Candlemass, ‘’The Sound Of Dying Demons’’ is a crawling one which gives its place to the next one, which was also the first Candlemass used as a sample to promote the album and won the impressions from the beginning. ‘’Waterwitch’’ is another slow one and the longest one on the album, it’s when you start wondering how amazingly Candlemass have kept their quality through the years and how capable they still are in offering good albums and nominal tracks in each one of them. The album flows in the same tempo changes, with the slow ones dominating and with some tracks having great titles (such as ‘’The Killing Of The Sun’’ for example) and closes ideally with one of the best tracks the band has ever written.
It is ‘’Black As Time’’ with the spoken intro that carries the heaviest stone that builds the sanctuary of the Swedish band, an up tempo track in the veins of the initial ‘’Prophet’’, which kinda connects all the songs of the album and one of those tracks when you first listen to them and say ‘’this should be the way how a very good album must end’’. Lowe is great here once more, and if there was ever a way to wave goodbye to one of the best bands in the world, ‘’Black As Time’’ is a very appropriate one. I don’t know if this is going to be the final Candlemass album ever, but I know that the quintet gave all they had to create this and the final result leaves no doubt about it.
Some fans may claim that after the second birth, Candlemass sounded safe and recycled their sound, without offering something really impressive. I totally disagree, as it is all a matter of taste. My taste is covered by the band’s albums and in an era when everything gets plastic and cheesy, Candlemass undoubtedly kept their sound and inspiration and did everything just to keep their name in its high status as it has always been since their creation. Leif Edling is a genius of the metal world, always having something new to offer and never stopping surprising the fans, even while reaching his fifties. I am curious to see them with Mats Leven to be honest, but I’m gonna miss Robert Lowe as long as I missed Messiah Marcolin when he left. For the time being, enjoy with ‘’Psalms Of The Dead’’, where Candlemass delivered one more lesson of how a great band should act in a very long career. I still prefer the last Krux album a little more though…