Wow, this one takes some work! Swedish band Candle have offered up a debut album (four of the tracks were made available as a demo commercially last year), that’s rich in intent but significantly poorer in execution.
It’s not a stinker, you understand, but should you elect to take the plunge on this album you’ll need to give it a lot of attention before it gives up it’s prizes. A lot of time.
You’ll also need a high level of tolerance for people in bands who worship King Diamond, for, with the best will in the world if you find his majesty’s schizoid vocal approach in any way annoying you’ll not be wanting to get involved with The Keepers Curse.
Tracks like Betrayal and Dancing Lights both want to be mentioned in the same sentence as King Diamond so much it hurts, but in reality they aren’t even on the same page. Betrayal offers hints of Helloween to act as something of a merciful (sorry) release from the relentless Diamond worship, but Dancing Lights is full-on amateur hour horror metal with nothing to declare but it’s direct dependence on Abigail for it’s inspiration.
This being the case, you’ll realise now that there’s plenty to enjoy, riff wise, with both Markus Janis and Christian Kanto both acquitting themselves well across the album’s eight tracks plus intro. Jorma Pihlajainen clearly knows his way around the kit and, when the mix allows you to hear him, the same can be said for four stringer Juhani Pihlajainen, whose playing on Embraced by Darkness is particularly compelling.
But the whole thing falls down on the handling of Eric Nordkvist’s vocals. The man’s voice just isn’t as strong or as capable of carrying a melody as Kim Bendix Petersen – few are – and too often his voice falls short, leaving songs that are otherwise quite serviceable high and dry. He can sing well enough, but he needs help to make this act truly convincing. Maybe a studio presence steeped in building up vocal tracks might make the difference? As it is, Nordkvist is often left sounding exposed and a little frail. He has his moments – the opening scream to No Peace for my Soul is pretty good – but they are few and far between.
Solid enough, I guess, but when the influences of the band stand out as brightly as they do here, the result has to be deemed largely a failure. Let’s hope the band can learn from this and make album number two a corker!
Candle will release The Keeper’s Curse through Fighter Records on February 21st.