Candlemass - The Door to Doom
Napalm Records
Traditional Doom
8 songs (48' 48")
Release year: 2019
Candlemass, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Andy
Major event

After Psalms for the Dead, Candlemass spoke of retiring, moving on to only live shows. Like so many bands who have brought up such a topic, they found that promise difficult to keep. Getting rid of Robert Lowe in favor of Mats Levin, only to drop him after a couple of uninspiring EPs, they have come full circle to the vocalist who started it all, Johan Langquist. Given that Epicus Doomicus Metallus was the album that put them on the map -- although I'd consider the first three Messiah Marcolin albums to be equally classic --, it's easy for overexcited metalheads to greet The Door to Doom as the second coming of Epicus. The odds weren't great that such a thing would happen, but they were not impossible, either; the aging Judas Priest, a band over ten years their senior, just released what is probably their best album since Painkiller. Could Candlemass pull off a similar feat?

Given that Langquist has existed in obscurity for the last 35 years except for live appearances, his vocal abilities on this album come as a surprise. His booming baritone equals or surpasses the pipes of any singer they've had outside of their 80s material, including those of the excellent Lowe. He shows off his range on the quick-stepping Splendor Demon Majesty, and on two other tracks he shows that he can produced hushed introspection just as well as he can blast a roaring crescendo. And as one might expect, Leif Edling and the rest of the band have little trouble producing epic doom riffs, polished with slight jaggedness in the guitars. They're as powerful as ever, and with better songs they'd send The Door to Doom hurtling towards Album of the Year. Black Trinity's purposeful menace, a hint of thrashiness hidden below its measured pace, has some of the best. House of Doom, previously put out on an EP with Mats Levin on vocals, shows how outclassed the former singer was when working with this kind of sound, and how much a Candlemass album depends on the power of its vocalist: Levin, singing with all his might, squeaked like a mouse from underneath its anvil-heavy riffs, but here Langquist confidently wades in and proceeds to crush the song like a discarded beer can.

So it is not the musical ability, but a lack of ideas that hamstrings The Door to Doom. Edling's songwriting feels run-of-the-mill to me on this one, with none of the innovations found in Death Magic Doom or even any of the organ-driven experiments of Psalms for the Dead (with the exception of House of Doom, which still has some organ in the background). This is not due to a lack of talent; not only do they have a lineup that has been influencing doom since the 80s, they have Tony Iommi, the father of doom metal himself, doing guest leads on Astorolus - The Great Octopus. The spiritual sense of thunderous, epic sorrow that Candlemass pioneered is present and accounted for, especially on The Omega Circle. But the album still feels like an unimaginative representative of the Robert Lowe era that they just dusted off and put Langquist on. It's no flop, but it fails to contain a hit of the caliber of Solitude, Ancient Dreams, or even If I Ever Die.

As in many avenues of modern-day life, believing the hype will likely result in bitter disappointment. The Door to Doom simply can't compete with the classic Candlemass back catalog. But it's a solid, listenable effort that's more than worth the price of admission, fronted by one of their best vocal performances in recent years. The Firepower of the modern Candlemass era still eludes Edling and company, but they aren't beaten yet.


Killing Songs :
Astorolus - The Great Octopus, House of Doom, Black Trinity, The Omega Circle
Andy quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Candlemass that we have reviewed:
Candlemass - Death Thy Lover (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Candlemass - Psalms For The Dead reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Candlemass - Ancient Dreams reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Candlemass - Nightfall reviewed by Kyle and quoted CLASSIC
Candlemass - Death Magic Doom reviewed by Adam and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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