Review Summary: Candlemass settles in with a new era of doom supremacy.
The Rob Lowe era of Candlemass is still in the early stages, but one thing has been made clear; Candlemass does not need Messiah to be considered the kings of doom metal.
King Of The Grey Islands showed great promise for the new lineup of the band, but something was lacking. The songs were solid, the production was heavy, and Lowe delivered a great performance behind the mic. All of the elements were there, but the album still seemed to lack the spark that would make it a classic. Hearing Death Magic Doom, the first album written specifically for Lowe makes it clear what was wrong before. Messiah's limited skills had necessitated the songs to be streamlined, tightening the vocals and not allowing Lowe to showcase his range.
Death Magic Doom does not suffer from any of these problems. As soon as the first riff sets in, it is clear that this is a band rejuvenated by the new blood Lowe brings. The production is massive, as a thundering riff pounds out a tempo faster than anything Candlemass has ever tried before. Lowe towers over the wall of sound, his vocals more powerful than even the darkest doom. "Hammer of Doom" thunders along at a grinding slow pace, the doomiest cut on the album, and the one that feels the most familiar.
The fun really starts with "The Bleeding Baroness", a sweeping mini-epic that is both crushingly heavy and irritatingly melodic. The band pounds a heavy doom stomper, falls into silence for a second, and then erupts in an epic chorus destined to break necks as they bang to the rhythm. "Demon of the Deep" turns another doom song on its head, ending with a melodic section that sounds as hard rock as doom metal. Likewise, "Dead Angel" bounces along with a chorus that is the closest doom metal will ever come to pop, while "My Funeral Dreams" is able to fuse all of these elements into a five-minute blueprint of everything Candlemass can be.... if they want to.
Death Magic Doom may not reach the same level as the considered legendary albums Epicus Doomicus Metallicus or Nightfall, but it is everything a band that has been around for twenty years can hope to be. Death Magic Doom is as heavy as Candlemass has ever been, as melodic as Candlemass has ever been, and features the strongest lineup Candlemass has ever had. Messiah may still be viewed as the face of the band, but Rob Lowe is now the voice of Candlemass.
Death Magic Doom is doom, and it is magical. Let's hope there's still plenty of life left in Candlemass.