Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
Nuclear Blast
Traditional Doom
8 songs (47'27")
Release year: 2009
Candlemass, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Adam
Album of the month
A new vocalist is certainly not a new concept for the kings of traditional doom, Candlemass. Bear in mind this is a band whose landmark debut was fronted by a session vocalist, Johan Längqvist, who refused to be a full-time member of the band despite being asked. Most fans rightfully consider Messiah Marcolin the voice of Candlemass, but his issues with other band members over the years have led to two other singers replacing him during his periods of leave. This latest episode of Marcolin leaving the band feels very permanent though, so his replacement choice was very crucial. Sensing this, Leif Edling went right to the top of the heap to snag Solitude Aeturnus singer Robert Lowe. Their first effort together, King of the Grey Islands, was a fine album, but seeing how the songs were reportedly written prior to Messiah’s departure, I was eager to hear the follow-up with this same grouping together for the entire process. This album comes in the form of Death Magic Doom, which is leaps and bounds above its predecessor and is virtually guaranteed to be the best doom album released in 2009.

The differences between Lowe and Marcolin are quite stark, but perhaps the most important difference is the heightened aggression in Robert’s voice. This allows for much darker and harder edged songwriting, which Edling is more than happy to provide. If I Ever Die, the opening track, doesn’t require any eerie intros, opting instead to ride on a hammering and fast moving riff. Lowe might not possess Messiah’s upper register, but his vocals are effectively powerful and much more dynamic. The guitar work is the stand out on this track, with some excellent soloing thrown in for good measure. Of course, this is Candlemass, so you know a supremely heavy and slow traditional doom track is not far off. In fact, it comes in the form of the next song, Hammer of Doom. I am an absolute sucker for this style, so I found this to be the cream of this album’s crop. The main riff is about as dense as they come, and is aided in heaviness by the inclusion of an ominous tolling bell. Lowe is very subdued during the verses, but unleashes the title vocals in stunning fashion for the choruses. Again, there is some excellent soloing to be found. This track basically embodies everything I love about this band. The Bleeding Baroness is where Robert really shines. His vocals have a definite emotional quality to them, and at times they are joined by a whispering layered effect that just sounds fantastic. Speaking of fantastic, it would a crime for me not to mention that Jan Lindh gives a near perfect performance on the drums. The constant subtle changes in pace are made to sound seamless by his marvelous time keeping, and while he may not blow you away, his importance cannot be discounted. Nearly every track has at least one standout moment, in addition to the excellent riffing and soloing, which is always present. Demon of the Deep contains a nice keyboard passage towards the end that almost harmonize with Lowe’s vocals. In somewhat similar fashion, House of 1000 Voices uses a dark choir chant to great effect. Dead Angel is a decent track, but it is the first that I could see myself skipping on future listens. In particular, the chorus just doesn’t work for me. It sounds strangely upbeat, missing the dark atmosphere of the first 5 songs. Luckily, that atmosphere returns for both of the final tracks. Clouds of Dementia is the better of the two, making its home in very low keys for the majority. This has the most positive effect on the solo near the middle of the track, which comes off far more evil sounding than on any of the other tracks. My Funeral Dreams is another solid slab of doom, and again contains keyboards to heighten the feeling of despair that is present in Lowe’s vocals when he belts out the chorus.

Candlemass is an institution in the doom world, and Death Magic Doom is yet another impressive addition to their career resume. Unlike past replacements for Messiah Marcolin, it looks like Robert Lowe is here to stay. While that may leave the future of Solitude Aeturnus in a bit of a state of flux, its hard to argue with his choice. If you consider yourself a fan of doom and only pick up one album this year, make sure this is the one.
Killing Songs :
Hammer of Doom, Demon of the Deep, Clouds of Dementia
Adam quoted 92 / 100
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Candlemass that we have reviewed:
Candlemass - The Door to Doom reviewed by Andy and quoted 79 / 100
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
To see all 10 reviews click here
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