Candlemass - Psalms for the Dead (Napalm Records)

Trad doom of the highest calibre from the veteran Swedes...
Release Date: 
8 Jun 2012 (All day)

In an interesting reversal of the normal order of things, Candlemass have announced that this will be their final album. They aren’t knocking the whole thing on the head, however – they are actually stopping recording and releasing ‘product’ in order to concentrate on playing live. So, is Psalms for the Dead a fitting epitaph to the band’s career as a recording outfit?

Absolutely it is. To these ears Psalms… is one of the most complete sounding works this band has ever committed to hard drive; Its an absolutely crushing hybridization of doom and traditional metal that leaves no stone unturned in its quest to bludgeon you into submission, with songs like The Sound of Dying Demons carrying a classy, slothlike doom assault that’ll have fans of this kind of things swinging from the rafters with sheer pleasure at what they are hearing. A lot of the credit for this has to go to vocalist Robert Lowe, who despite lacking the sheer unhinged madness of (many ‘mass fans favourite throatsmith) Messiah Marcolin, has a classy, authoritative heavy metal voice that combines power, melody and dynamics with devastating effect. It’s not a one man show, of course, and lead player Lars Johansson in particular shines with some spectacularly melodic playing to leaven the bombast of rhythm axeman Mappe Bjorkman and the engine room of bassist Leif Edling and drummer Jan Lindh. As a unit these blokes (Lowe aside) have been together for years, and their cohesive playing everywhere on the album is mightily impressive. Sure, they get a bit close to Sabbath on occasions, but this is doom and you wouldn’t want it have it any other way, would you? Luckily Lowe’s voice is unique enough to keep the band out of karaoke territory when the band forget themselves and go to full Butler/Iommi/Ward mode (as they do on the epic Waterwitch), the result being an utterly enjoyable romp through a brand of heavy metal that, whilst being uttely old school, is simultaneously an enjoyable throwback to the time when no band was afraid to temper the heaviness with great, elephantine slabs of melody. I love this album, and, given half a chance, I think you will too. Check it out.