Death Magic Doom

Written by: EW on 07/06/2009 23:44:30

So, right, its taken me a bit of time to think how to write this review of Candlemass' new album, "Death Magic Doom", album no.10 for a band that has come and gone over their long career. One is not allowed to label themselves a fan of doom without at least admiration towards the Swedes early back catalogue, which for me is not a problem as I LOVE their first four albums, but listening to their three albums this decade since reformation has always tended to leave me a bit cold. Why is that?

"Death Magic Doom" represents the second album featuring Robert Lowe's (Solitude Aeturnus) pipes, who as expected has proven to be an admirable replacement for Messiah Marcolin, and another point on the board of why C-mass are the kings of epic doom metal. However for me, that reputation was made in the 80's and has hardly been topped up since. You see my problem is that I miss their 80's sound, their 80's song structure and I whisper this quietly, Messiah. Lowe, and Solitude Aeturnus, are brilliant, make no mistakes, but whether through production or the quality of the riffs and songs themselves recent Candlemass material too often feels stagnant and blunted and an example of where better technology does not equal better sound. Many songs ended up feeling quite samey through the lack of clarity that defined some truly brilliant albums many years ago. Yes yes I should probably wake up and smell the date but can anyone really argue with me that the sound of "Death Magic Doom" or 2007's "King Of The Grey Islands" is more emotional and interesting than "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" (1986) or "Nightfall" (1987)?

The fact that, excluding the vocal department, the band's three 21st Century albums don't really seem to have evolved doesn't aid my appreciation of them, however this is still Candlemass, and Leif Edling, Mr. Doom if ever there was one. "Death Magic Doom" for all my qualms still has some bitching (did I just say that?) songs. "If I Ever Die" is an uptempo start before the first signs of crushing doom emerge in the appropriately titled "Hammer of Doom", one of those that would most fit an early Candlemass classic due to it's morose downtrodden nature. From here the speed jostles contentedly between crushing doom, mid-paced interludes, and as is their nature these days, a fair amount of faster bounding moments too. Not my favourite those, but their effect is clear: they add a distinct amount of groove that certainly works better live. "Demon Of The Deep", through it's incorporation of subtle organ/keyboard work produces the best individual moment of the album, and where Lowe's vocals shine through the strongest, in a similar way to the 'angelic' voices in "House Of 1000 Voices".

Overall, you'll see I have mixed feelings about this release. There are some great moments and it stands up strongly against other recent albums in the doom field but I am realising my wish for 'classic' Candlemass will remain just a wish, and probably for the best too. Leif Edling will always know how to write great doom and really I should not question him, so enjoy this work of great 21st Century doom yourself.

Download: Hammer of Doom, Demon Of The Deep, Dead Angel
For The Fans Of: Solitude Aeturnus, Trouble, Black Sabbath
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 03.04.09
Nuclear Blast Records

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