It’s always terrifying when a widely respected band that’s seemingly been around forever announces it’s final studio album.
But if this is, in fact, the 12th and final record from the Swedish doom metal legends, fans can comfortably know that the band went out with the Candlemass spirit very much alive and well.
“Psalms For the Dead” stacks up favorably with the band’s much-loved first four albums (80-90 percent there). Although he lacks the grandiose, operatic bellow of Messiah, vocalist Robert Lowe (formerly of Solitude Aeternus) lends a little more grit and snarl to the classic Candlemass sound. And Leif Edling’s riff-writing is still very much intact.
2. The Sound of Dying Demons
3. Dancing In the Temple (of the Mad Queen Bee)
5. The Light of Thebe
6. Psalms For the Dead
7. The Killing of the Sun
8. Siren Song
9. Black as Time
Although the tried and true heavy doom sound is mostly untouched, it benefits from some slight additions: the eerie glow of electric organ, the occasional baritone choir, and of course, Lowe’s vocals. “Prophet is a time-shifting monstrosity of a song, featuring twin guitars and a strong thrash presence. The title track is the most overtly melodic of the bunch (both from its chorus and its lead guitar line).
A war drum intro and a descending, sci-fi tinged organ figure are the standouts of “The Sound of Dying Demons,” and “Waterwitch” has an intimate atmosphere that slowly builds.
A pleasant surprise for me was hearing Per Wiberg, fresh off a stint in Opeth, perform a guest keyboard solo on “Siren Song.” The instrument has been quite underused lately, and it’s nice to see its return to the forefront if only for one track.
“Black as Time” starts off with a Rod Serling-style monologue about the ravages of time–something we’re all trying to get more of, but hardly ever do. For the time being, it’s unlikely this Candlemass lineup will persist, as Mr. Lowe was out of the band at the time of this record’s release. Maybe he’ll rejoin Solitude Aeternus, a fine doom metal act in its own right.
If “Psalms For the Dead” is indeed the final Candlemass album (and I sure hope it isn’t), the group can look with fondness back on a career that showed them truly making the best of the time that was given to them. And with all that beautiful, crushing doom metal on tape as a result (including the songs here), “black” seems a fitting way to describe it.
Written by Matt P