The excitement following the return of ‘original’ Candlemass vocalist Johan Längqvist to the fold for the band’s new album The Door to Doom seems well-placed; Although he was only a session man on the band’s famed debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, his presence here gives the album the sort of gravity that’s been missing since the band decided seemingly to simply rope in anyone who was available at the time to sing on their records. He’s a commanding singer, and his easy-on-the-ear baritone certainly adds a foreboding weight to the material on offer.
Of course, these days a Candlemass album might as well be a Krux album, or a Doomsday Kingdom album, or an Avatarium album, such is the fecundity of bassist Leif Edling’s writing and his seemingly tireless commitment to the doom genre; and, to these ears at least, there does seem to have been a certain interchangeability about his projects over recent years. However it’s only really the last song on the album that suffers this fate here, with the (admittedly excellent) The Omega Room really sounding as if it’s been wrenched from it’s rightful place on an Avatarium album.
Elsewhere Splendor Demon Majesty makes for a rattling good opener, regal doom metal at it’s most refined and appealing, whilst the spine tingling ballad Bridge of the Blind – the album’s standout track by some way – is pure classic metal, with Längqvist sounding like an in-his-pomp David Coverdale on a long-lost Deep Purple outtake. It really is that good.
And then of course you’ll know all about Astorolus – The Great Octopus. A rollicking stompalongaleif thumper that sounds like it might have been written for Messiah Marcolin to bellow along to back in the mists of time, it’s righteousness as a song in it’s own right seems to have been subsumed by the fact that Tony Iommi contributes a solo on it. This, of course, must be like Christmas and Easter all rolled into one if you’re a doom musician of whatever vintage, and Iommi’s plastic digits certainly do the song justice- but in reality there are solos elsewhere on the album, played by the band’s own Lars Johansson, that sound just as good, if not better. But who am I to carp? The presence of a doom legend on an already-excellent doom album isn’t harming anyone, least of all me, so why not just enjoy?
And enjoyable is the word for this album. I actually haven’t enjoyed a Candlemass album this much in aeons, and the whole band seems energised and ready to rock throughout. A must buy not just for doom fans but for metal fans in general.
The Door To Doom is out now.