Review: Candlemass – The Door To Doom
As I write this review, the dark January sky is growing darker. It’s around thirty degrees outside and we’re getting ready for a winter storm. I’m cold, I’m miserable. What can I possibly do to alleviate these winter blues?
A NEW CANDLEMASS RECORD!
My doom heroes have once again pulled me from the depths of despair and into a black hole of dissonance. Scientific studies show that major and minor chords trigger different parts of the brain. Major chords poke at the part that develop coherent and orderly information processing, whereas minor chords hit the part that processes rewards and emotions. Candlemass, with its history of delicious riffy doom metal, immediately feels like a reward in any situation. This record, specifically, is our reward for waiting so long for the return of Johan Längqvist.
The first track, ‘Splendor Demon Majesty’, hits you like a punch to the face. A screeching wail is followed by the classic Candelmass doom strike of drums and riff. Slow and foreboding, you know something is coming, and then it does! Johan Längqvist greets us with a voice very different from the one we’re used to hearing from his original recordings, no longer clear and throaty, his voice has a bit of a scratch and an edge to it. Aged like good scotch, it’s smoky and dark now, but that classic vibrato is still there and it’s still a perfect match for the epic dark tunes behind it. The chorus in this song is unexpected and that’s what makes it great. This is going to be a song I’ll be listening to again and again.
‘Under the Ocean’ begins with some clean guitar and Johan Längqvist’s clean classic vocals. It’s beautiful to listen to and you can almost feel his voice reverberating through his chest. It picks up very quickly, so don’t worry, this is no ballad. A sweet doom riff throws you for a loop and Johan’s voice’s new dark scratchy quality brings out the real potential in this song. This is the sort of music you expect a nautical super villain to enter with. Aquaman 2, maybe? A girl can dream!
The third track on the album is probably already familiar to you, but if it isn’t, this is the banger we were treated to earlier in January. ‘Astorolus-The Great Octopus’ brings us a match made in heaven (or hell…?) with Tony Iommi joining Candlemass to bring us the doomiest doom to ever doom. It’s great, because much like Iommi’s music with Dio, it’s only made better with a great vocalist. Johan does this music justice and once again we’re pulled into the deepest darkest depths of the sea. So far, throughout all of these songs, the drums have sounded very clean and precise. They’re not the main event in this kind of music, but they fit well so I’m glad they’re not overdone.
‘Bridge of the Blind’ surprises us with a clean guitar and Johan’s beautiful voice. This is the sort of thing I like listening to when I’m painting, or sewing together the skin of my enemies. It’s great, more of a traditional ballad than we’re used to hearing from Candlemass and a great break in the middle from the plodding riffs. It’s short compared to the rest of the songs on the album, so enjoy the ride while you can because it’s only going to get more evil from here.
A thudding intro riff greets us in the next track, ‘Death’s Wheel’. The riff here has a lot of good energy, and Johan isn’t pulling back. He goes a full ten here right out of the gate, throwing power into his voice as soon as he enters the song. It’s a good change from the usual way he likes to build intensity. A great guitar solo awaits you in this track, drawing us away from the riff for a moment and into an almost bluesy atmosphere. ‘Black Trinity’ starts off slow, remains slow, as doom metal will do. The rest of the song feels like a bit of a throwback to the King of the Grey Islands, which is admittedly a favorite album of mine. No complaints. This is a good song but it feels familiar.
‘House of Doom’ may be my favorite song title on this album and I was excited to hear it the most. This is a re-recording of the same song released in 2018 with ex-Candlemass vocalist Mats Levén. While Mats’ performance was great, I think the song lends itself better to someone like Johan, whose deeper tones have always been a staple of Candlemass’ music. Of course, that’s just my interpretation, and the fact that there are two versions of this great song is awesome! The song itself greets us with some church bells and the wrestling fan in me immediately thinks of the Undertaker. Surprisingly, the tempo picks up and we’ve got a nice energetic track that I’d love to see the Undertaker pile drive someone to. The faint choral arrangement in the background makes this feel almost power metal-y, which is fun for me and what makes Candlemass one of my favorite bands. Adding little touches to their music sets it apart and this song is fun. I expect a lot of people to be singing along when they play it live!
‘The Omega Circle’ brings this album to a close. The opening guitar tone is very reminiscent of ‘Solitude’, so we’re taken down the path of memory lane before a very evil riff brings us right back to doom land. This last track, with it’s stomping drums and heavy riff is quintessential Candlemass. There’s another great guitar solo in this track, and Johan’s voice is utilized at its full potential; he goes from soft to power, clean to grit. Make sure you stick through to the end, there’s a nice little surprise end riff that plays you out. It’s a great end to a great album and I’m going to be listening to it a lot when the whole thing is released on February 22nd. I suggest that anyone who likes doom, traditional, and even power metal give this one a listen. It has a little something for everyone and I can’t wait to have it in my hands!