CANDLEMASS - The Door To Doom
Release date Feb 22/19 (Napalm)
Lots of excitement being generated out of the Candlemass camp as a result of the return of Johan Langquist (he being the man-at-the-mic on the band's legendary Epicus Doomicus Metallicus full-length debut). Being a relative latecomer to the bands charms (2005's self-titled return) who hasn't spent much time going backward into their catalogue, I will probably be one of the few who can review this latest dispassionately.
That said, I did enter into the listening sessions with high expectations given the uber-quality doom this Swedish unit have subjected the world to over the past fourteen years, including last year's House of Doom EP (which had Mats Leven at the vocal position). Vocalists come and go on a regular basis, but the one thing that you can always rely on from this lot are the massive riffs that have come to define what epic doom metal is. Unsurprisingly, The Door To Doom is filled from top to bottom with memorable riffage that crushes with arcane knowledge of the form. There's also some exquisite lead guitar sections (including a solo from Tony Iommi himself), along with quiet interludes/tracks, which help highlight the heavy stuff when it rears its ugly visage.
Gotta say that this is one of those releases that wins you over due to the unyielding quality of all of the tracks when put together, rather than having highlighted tracks that draw you in. 'Astorulus - The Great Octopus' refers to Sabbath's 'The Sign Of The Southern Cross', 'Death's Wheel' does a stomping headbang that evokes memories of Cathedral, while 'Bridge Of The Blind' provides a soft, memorable interlude and and 'House Of Doom' (the latter updated from last year's EP) uses a church-organ section to great, gothic effect. Track after track of pure class to consume here.
Final verdict - over time this may grow into classic status, but at minimum, this certainly is a damn fine piece of epic doom that lives up to the legendary Candlemass name. Oh yeah - the new/old guy at the mic sounds just fine! Buy.
Note: The Japanese edition includes the House Of Doom EP appended at the end.