Legendary doom metal band Candlemass release their thirteenth studio album, Sweet Evil Sun.
One of the earliest and most influential doom bands to ever rise, Candlemass formed in Sweden in the early 1980s. Few question the significance of the band’s first full-length album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986), and, for me, it is a record I can return to time and again with no loss of awe. I greet each new Candlemass release with a sort of luxurious expectancy, and I have never been disappointed. The most recent long-player, The Door To Doom (2019), continues to get regular spins in the den, and there is no doubt Sweet Evil Sun will receive the same treatment. Candlemass is Johan Lanquist (vocals), Lars Johansson (guitar), Mappe Björkman (guitar), Leif Edling (bass), Janne Lind (drums).
The characterizing elements of the music are massive guitar riffs, sweeping melodic vocals, and mesmerizing lead guitar work. The choruses tend to be memorable, even catchy, and the reliable structure of the songs creates anticipation in a state of recurring temporal existence that is unswervingly rewarded.
The first of nine songs is “Wizard of the Vortex.” It opens with a clobbering riff that is tense and foreboding. When Johan Lanquist begins to sing, the trepidation grows. An early guitar flourish sinks the hooks in deep enough for measurable permanence so that when the instrument returns halfway through you are ready for the bigger presentation. The opening thunder returns, and the music moves toward its resolution. It is clear we are on the path. The next track is the title piece, and I have heard it before because it was released earlier as a single. This song shows clearly what the album, in its completely unfurling, will reveal.
“Angel Battle” is one of the heaviest pieces on the record, and that gives it high starting marks. After the intriguing dirge-like opening, the guitars turn more active, pressing the advance. “Black Butterfly” similarly inspires dread, calling forth some of the vibes I remember from the first time I heard Rainbow’s “Gates Of Babylon,” but with the signature Candlemass guitar sound and expression. “Goddess” is the final song, appropriately mournful. The last word is the short yet formidable outro piece “A Cup of Coffin.” The album is excellent. It is exactly what I was expecting and hoping to hear. Highly recommended.
Sweet Evil Sun is out now through Napalm Records. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.
Band photo by Linda Akerberg.
Candlemass website, https://candlemass.se/
Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/candlemass
© Wayne Edwards