CANDLEMASS - King of the Grey Islands
Release date June 22, 2007 (Nuclear Blast)
Review originally published in Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles Magazine, Issue #106
After a short acoustic intro, 'Emperor of the Void' washes over the listener with a wall of welcome droning guitar, signaling the return of one of doom metal's premier outfits. Those fearing a potential change in musical direction as a result of the recent personnel change can rest easy; the Swedes have immersed themselves fully in their chosen morose musical muse here. Despite playing almost exclusively at crushing slow-to-mid tempo, there's no worry of wavering listener attention, as the riffs are monolithically memorable, the tones universal and the guitar solos blinding (albeit too infrequent).
New vocalist Robert Lowe (ex-Solitude Aeturnus) slides in effortlessly, confidently pontificating and roaring as he claims Messiah Marcolin's vacated mic. Very much a grower, this is one of those few albums which improves with each listen, not so much because of deciphering of details, but rather by allowing osmosis of such weighty material. Once the hour long disc fades into conclusion there's a strong compulsion to press play again, craving more of its regal grandeur. A doom metal classic is born.
Update: Some of my fave Candlemass tracks can be found on this disc ('Of Stars & Smoke', 'Demonia 6' and 'Cleasight'), but in hindsight marching us across its desolate sonic space for a full hour was overreaching, making it a tiring experience to listen to in full in one sitting. In my opinion it could have been pared down to 40 to 45 minutes ... although picking which ones to discard would be an incredibly hard task. Perhaps they should have done what they did with the recent The Door To Doom album, placing the leftover tracks from the recording session on an EP the following year. Regardless, this remains a must-buy for doom aficionados. (8.5)