Review Summary: The last of a legacy
Since their classic debut, Epicus, Candlemass has been putting out some pretty sweet content and have not done any wrong. Tales of Creation might have to be the best this band has to offer by far, if not Epicus of course. This album differs slightly from Nightfall and Ancient Dreams, and even more so than their debut. Their slow and drone formula for Epicus has been essential obliterated, and traded up for a more fast-paced feel. And the production has also seen somewhat tweaked since the days of Nightfall to give the guitars and instrumentation overall a more solid sound, instead of the band's usual muffled guitars. When all is said and done, and all the pieces of the puzzle are put together, this album becomes one of the most important items of doom to be released yet.
At the start of the album you can see how Candlemass has already taken their first steps into this faster-paced recording. Aside from the gloomy intro, The Prophecy will explode in your face and echoed speech will be heard in the background before picking up the pace yet again. Not more than two minutes into the album and Candlemass have already managed to swoon the listener, and this is before we get a good look at Messiah Marcolin vocals. I swear, this man does not once falter on this album, and pours his heart and soul into each track (with the exception of the 3 minute instrumental track, Into the Unfathomed Tower of course). Everything from his high pitched wails, to his low tuned voice, to his regular tone is executed so perfectly.
While on the subject about Into the Unfathomed Tower, this track is really the only reason this is not a downright classic album. Without trying to say that this a bad track, it is to be noted that it pretty much throws the balance of the album all off. We don't get to hear any vocals, and some parts of the song, especially the guitars, seem a bit trite. Not so much though for this track to considered a skipper, but enough so to prove that this track could have easily been left off the album. And with Edge of Heaven up next, this song really does nothing to prepare for it like every other track on this album. If it were not for Into the Unfathomed Tower, the album might come off as one long, unbelievably beautiful track, telling a great story.
The Edge of Heaven is simply one of the most cohesive tracks the album has to offer, aside from the final track, the album's self-titled masterpiece. This song has a mix of everything that makes Candlemass work so well with this album. It has Messiah practically lifting the listener into the air with his godly vocals, an incredibly well thought-out solo, and flawless rhythm sections. This is truly an uplifting track, and is just a teaspoon of the gallons of positive aspects the band has managed to incorporate into this 42 minute masterpiece. It is tear-inducing knowing that this is the last album we will see Messiah performing in for quite some time, and even more disappointing that is the last great album the band will have for us for at least the next 15 years. For a long time after this the band is going to be faulting left, right, and center. But for now, it is best to just enjoy the genius that is the good old days of Candlemass's milestone.
When all has been taken into account, and it becomes easy to see that this album nearly flawlessly flows, there's not much more credit to be given. But is should be noted the incredible performance by drummer Jan Lindh. As great as Epicus was, it was not purely his album. Tales of Creation on the other hand would crumble like a brittle bone without him man-handling his drum kit like he does here. Jan has never in the band's entire discography gone harder than he has here. He practically slams down on the snare here, and his rhythm is kept to the tee. He flawlessly keeps the beat, and without the audacity of his drums, this album wouldn't have half the life it holds.
The final track of this album though is probably the most mouth-dropping aspect of this album though. Not only is it hand downs the best track on the album, but it ends this emotional record so well, it just feels so natural when listening to this, it's as if your thoughts can be heard out loud. This self-titled track has brought to the table such emotional, lyrical power, and riffage that simply can't be beat, even by anything else on the actual album. It just pieces everything together so nicely, it's like finishing the 1,000 piece puzzle when you're 8. But seriously, just look at how uplifting the lyrics are.
"With my song the sun was born
Out of darkness giving light
From my heart came love and joy
And all the beauty you could find"
But just reading will never be enough; you will just have to hear Messiah take it away, because he truly has one of the best voices of doom the world has ever seen. It comes as no surprise that this band is considered one of the forerunners of the genre.
To conclude, it can be put real simple: never has an album (for me much less) been kept from its perfect score for such a single tiny error. I guess that perhaps one could argue that Into the Unfathomed Tower really is an incredible track that doesn't detract from the flow of the album at all, but in all reality, if you just rip this song out of the album, the transition just makes much more sense than throwing this random ball of instrumentation into the mix. It just doesn't go too well, even though it is a pretty neat sounding song. And it doesn't disprove Jan's outstanding performance in the slightest; it's just an unnecessary track. But putting all that aside, this is an essential doom album, and the last of a legacy. Candlemass will never again (even once the next 15 years of regression conclude) put out an album as great as Tales of Creation.