Candlemass are legendary, alongside groups such as Witchfinder General, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Trouble, and Pagan Altar led by bassist Leif Edling the Swedish act had a pretty big hand in helping to pioneer the use of sludgy, Black Sabbath inspired riffs and slow tempo intensity that would characterise the musical subgenre known as doom metal. In 1986 Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
set itself as a landmark album for the scene, establishing Candlemass firmly high up in the metal canon alongside the influence of its equally regarded follow up Nightfall
. Ancient Dreams
is the groups third album, and was released in 1988.
In many ways Ancient Dreams
feels like an extension of Nightfall
, from the use of another Thomas Cole painting on the front cover to the uncannily similar approach to songwriting (doom metal groups have never been known for their variation) it does smack a bit of Nightfall Pt. 2
a little. This is a good thing if you loved the groups new singer Messiah Marcolin and the sharp, crisp tones of his powerful voice, the bands gloomy, drawn out, slow riff after riff and an occasional guitar solo formula definitely a winning approach to backing his majestic vocals. If not and you think Messiah's a fag (this is not the first time this has been expressed before) well Ancient Dreams
is never going to appeal much.
Its far too easy to play the comparison game but most of Ancient Dreams
demands it to be and it is as equally good as Nightfall
, if not better. Mirror Mirror
is one of the best metal opening tracks around, from its dreamy, majestic intro with harmonised guitars, double kickers and symphonic keys it sets a standard for the rest of the album as it proves itself an excellent doom laden riff-rocker with superb lyrics and delivery from Messiah (Usurped and enslaved/Redeemed and betrayed/The devil in the mirror, obey!
). Every single track that follows is virtually the same in principle, with only slight structural differences to speak of. A Cry From The Crypt
is perhaps the best of these, with a distinctly recognisable sludge riff at the beginning and a stomping, yet slow pace throughout with some more goofy evil lyrics from Messiah that you could very well find yourself singing along to (Lurking in the shadows/Twisted shape of creeping terror/Guarding something special/Gone since ages, dead and buried
Not much else stands out as worth discussing as Darkness In Paradise
, Incarnation of Evil
and Bearer of Pain
are all excellent but very, very similar, however the album does start to feel like a rehash around the sixth inclusion, title track Ancient Dreams
. It has a lengthy section based around a riff which is very similar to the earlier A Cry From The Crypt
and this is kind of offputting, from this point on the listener could be forgiven for a wavering attention span. The Bells of Acheron
is worth sticking around for, but despite this the latter half of the album comes off as a tad weaker then the first. The album ends with a Black Sabbath medley (with riffs taken from Symptom of the Universe
, Sweet Leaf
, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
, Into the Void
, Electric Funeral
and Black Sabbath
) which is pure novelty but a fitting homage to a group Candlemass owe an awful lot to.
is an excellent followup to the superb Nightfall
, and another great addition to the Candlemass discography. Overall it isn't quite as engaging from start to finish as the groups previous work with the latter half of the album being so-so at times, but what it shares in formulaic tone it tends to copy faithfully rather then rehashing into something completely mediocre.