CD review: “The Door To Doom” by Candlemass

The doom metal luminaries in Candlemass return with the band’s newest release in seven years, The Door To Doom.

The gargantuan riffs on “Splendor Majestic Demon” leave no doubt that the listener is in store for a heavy experience. Original vocalist Johan Langquist makes his triumphant return after a 33 year absence. His soaring vocals have not faltered and carry the same demonic majesty as they did on the band’s 1986 debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. “Splendor” features a crushing galloping riff that explodes during the track’s chorus.

“Under The Ocean” commences with a dreary, psychedelic riff before it is interrupted with a colossal riff and ground shaking drums. Drummer Jan Lindh keeps a stomping mid-tempo for the duration of the track. The following track “Astorolus-The Great Octopus” delves deeper in to the seas of doom as none other than heavy metal progenitor Tony Iommi guest stars on this track. This slow, haunting monody imbues a sense of hopelessness as Langquist laments of a great sea monster that will swallow the earth. Iommi’s bluesy solo serves as fitting music as the planet is devoured.

“Death’s Wheel” is notable for its circular, galloping riff like a carriage traveling to hell. Guitarists Lars Johansson and Mats Bjorkman’s riffs drip with sludge and the double drumming during the song’s chorus heighten the song’s heaviness. “House of Doom” is another highlight with its ripping guitar riff and spine tingling organ during the song’s midsection. Candlemass conclude Door with “The Omega Circle”, the longest track on the record, clocking in at over seven minutes. The trudging tempo and mammoth riffs transition to a soft acoustic passage as Langquist sings of a satanic dream before things turn heavy again. A mighty end to a mighty record.

The Door To Doom is not a door, but a lofty gate that once opened strikes the listener with crushing riffs and operatic vocals. The members of Candlemass do not rest on their laurels and prove why the band is so revered. Bassist and key songwriter Leif Edling creates the perfect balance between heavy and soft as the band never over does it. The record’s softer moments are not just rest areas for listeners but good pieces of music. Of course, when the band plays heavy, the earth shakes and the demons listen. Door is forty-eight minutes of doom metal played extremely well. While the lyrics are awkward at times, they barely detract from the quality of this record.

Candlemass has not lost its step since its formation 35 years ago. The Door To Doom is a stellar record that should please fans and those new to the band. Open the door and revere the colossal splendor before you.

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CD Review: ‘Red Robes’ by The Order of Israfel

It is rare that a band can successfully meld several sub-genres without sounding awkward or insincere. Swedish doom metal quartet The Order of Israfel pull it off with ease on its sophomore effort Red Robes. The Romani influenced violins that open “Staff In The Sand” provide a haunting prelude for the melancholy riffs that follow. The downbeat, mountainous riffs plod like a giant in a winter storm. The title track has a touch of stoner metal with its psychedelic main riff. The ominous riffing is further accentuated by the chorused singing throughout the track. The chants and creepy bassline in the middle of the track would invoke the Devil himself. The grooving “In Thrall To The Sorceress” is one of the shorter tracks on the record. It is a straight up rocker that breaks up the bleak atmosphere of the previous songs. Yet, the highlight on Red Robes is “Swords To The Sky,” a progressive doomy venture equal parts Black Sabbath and Opeth. Tom Sutton’s wailing vocals paint a picture of a battle worn knight marching forward. The acoustic passage of “Fallen Children” is both and tragic and beautiful. The band focuses on war and the relationship between man and the supernatural.

Red Robes shows The Order of Israfel as its best. The band can play doom, folk and progressive metal without a hint of hesitation. This gives the music several layers of depth and it is never monotonous. The band’s influences are apparent but not cheaply imitated. Production wise, it is a mix of vintage Seventies with a modern update. The guitars and drums are at the forefront so one can feel those molten riffs melt your ear drums. The only minor problem is that Tom’s Sutton’s vocals are slightly drowned out, however, it is not terribly bad.

Red Robes is one of the best metal records released this year. It is only May and we have seven months to go, but this is a strong release. Fans of Paradise Lost, Candlemass or Electric Wizard should pick this record up. The Order of Israfel’s members have every right to point their swords to the sky with Red Robes.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s Facebook page