MetalBite Review by Chris Pratl on 5/5/2018 1:57:12 PM
In a country more renowned for its contributions to the death metal movement of the late 80's and early 90's, Sweden's doom-legend Candlemass has hardly let up one iota over the last 33-years. Endless debates over which of their early albums, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus or Nightfall, is the more influential album still run rampant today on many a forum and social media post, much to the delight of many an old school fan. Such staying power must wield some sort of resonance after so long, and it does just that.
The latest offering is an EP titled House of Doom, an otherwise telling, if unnecessary tag considering the lineage of this group, but, alas, I am here among the masses awaiting the dark and empowering chords to hit me, and the titled track opens up quite nicely. The immediacy of the power chords is a staunch reminder of this band's overall power is still sharp after so many years. Understandably, doom metal isn't a medium usually longing for consistent advancement, but even the best bands of the genre have hit 'cold spots' in their respective careers. Vocalist Mats Leven does a nice job of letting his vocal pattern guide him, as opposed to others people who try in vain to overpower the verses with showboating bellowing; his vocals are a sort of thin coat of varnish over the nicely molded surface laid down by the band. His range is just hearty enough to fill the room without the pretension of playing the part.
As the tracks move long into “Flowers of Deception,” Fortuneteller,” and “Dolls On a Wall,” the track signatures change evenly and enough to set apart the individual songs from one another; no two tracks suffer from repetitive sterility anywhere. The slow and moody “Fortuneteller”is an almost ballad-like dwelling in the chasm of doom metal that, on occasion, can lift the listener above the normal plane of listening enjoyment. Granted, it's no “Solitude” by Black Sabbath or “Watching From a Distance” from the U.K.'s Warning in terms of brilliant anthem-like stature, but it's a soft and lulling dance over the furious D-chord dirges we're often used to in large doses.
The EP ends with “Dolls On a Wall,”an instrumental that, for me, was the perfectly logical exclamation point on this short little effort. Taking nothing away from its own powerful presence, to see an offering end with a good instrumental isn't all that prevalent these days, so this was a welcome surprise. It pretty much moves along with the same train of thought for the nearly-four-minute climax, but as with any inspired, finely-crafted piece it gets in and out before any ideas are stretched too thin for their own good. It was a very well-executed exit.
When something has been moving along in its own easy labyrinth of excellence for so long, why tamper with the formula? As I said, doom isn't known for (successfully) taking chances over the last 50-years, but when it offers up a well-toned piece of musical machinery, it makes getting older seem that much less taxing. Candlemass has always been a band offering nothing but high quality, so I think it's a safe bet to put all of your chips on black when it comes to their long and fascinating discography.
Rating: 9 out of 10