Review Summary: The end of Candlemass’s golden age.
Everything that has a beginning, has an end. The story of Sweden’s greatest Metal band of all time, began in 1985. A young musician, Leif Edling, the bassist and founder of a local band called Nemesis, was forced to drop the name (due to a copyright law-suit) and carry on with his project under a different branch name. Edling choose to name his band Candlemass, a name which is now synonymous with the Doom Metal genre. In a relatively short period of time, Candlemass build brick by brick their legacy. Their first four albums bear testament to their influential hard work. What these guys achieved in only four years is truly enviable. They took an outdated musical style and directed it unto the unknown, thus giving the underground Heavy-Doom Metal, a new ID. But eventually, all good things must come to an end. And the golden era of Candlemass would last until 1989 with the final chapter being Tales of Creation
After securing their rightful place within the metal circles with their revitalizing first two records, Candlemass lost no time in recording their third album. But a lot of things went wrong. First of all they got rushed. In the bands homepage, Ancient Dreams
is described as a “failed rush release”. That’s very accurate if I may say so. The impact of Nightfall
was enormous and the Swedes fell victims of their own success as they felt a restless desire to record something of equal quality. Secondly, there were a number of serious mistakes and misjudgments that eventually led the band to proceed and record while being headless (without a professional producer). Young and naïve, the Swedes carried on and the result was an album that simply didn’t had the power of its precursors. The production made the album sound rough and raw but it sounded way too much for their standards. The aftermath of Ancient Dreams
left the members of the band scratching their heads with the sequel. While their first two albums were hailed as classics, their third album had production problems and it didn’t do much to stretch their limits either.
With Tales of Creation
, Candlemass had one opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and prove that they still had it. Moreover, this album gave them the chance to try something different in order to avoid any possibility of repetition. Leif Edling knew something special was needed so he decided to use the following album as a means to house an old ambition-to finish a bible-inspired story he wrote, named Tales of Creation
. And so it happened, Candlemass’s fourth studio record became their first and only (to this day) concept album. An epic saga illustrating the origin of life, Tales of Creation
contains some of the first tracks that Edling was working on during the time when the band’s name was still Nemesis. The short life of Nemesis was actually documented as Edling and company recorded their first demos in 1985, with tracks such as Under The Oak
, Dark Reflections
and Into The Unfathomed Tower
coming into light. Those demos were the first steps of a band that would eventually become huge, however if you listen to these tracks, you will be amazed by the band’s progress. It is unbelievable that the very next year, this band gave us Epicus
. Why ? because these demo songs sound terrible. Remember to keep your ears away from those demos. Of course, having time by their side, the band showed signs of musical evolvement as they developed their own sound and by 1989, they were also experienced enough in order to bring Edling’s vision to life.
For starters, this album has a totally different mood from the previous one. The amazing production that boosted Epicus
is making a triumphant return and that is the first major difference from the sludgy Ancient Dreams
. I feel the need to emphasize on that matter and ramble a little bit about it. The production is truly astonishing. The album has been produced in such a way to highlight Messiah’s operatic vocals and fortunately, by doing so, the instruments are not sacrificed in the final mix. The crunching tone remains eminent despite the fact that there have been used loads of reverb. The drums sound HUGE. The bass is also a considerable force. The general idea is that “size matters”. Augmentation is the key. And no matter how fluent you feel with your instruments, or how effective you are when utilizing your effects, you cannot achieve your goal without a suitable production. And Candlemass certainly took the best out of the producer. The second major difference is the duration. Clocking at almost 43 minutes, the album is 15 minutes shorter compared to its predecessor, but it’s also more coherent, more focused and overall better written. The main reason for which Tales
is the shortest album of the first four, could be the noticeable pacey approach, Candlemass choose to take for this record. It is a well-known fact that the Swedes had always a hard time at resisting to thrash out a little bit, but thanfully, they did it without ever losing their control and overdo it.
One of the very few cases however, where Candlemass wrote material that distances itself from the funeral paces of this genre, is the bizarre instrumental Into The Unfathomed Tower
. I use the word “bizarre” not because the song is peculiar in nature, but because such use of frenetic guitar solos can alienate the listeners. Personally, this song never ruined my joy for this record, but seemingly, most listeners have a problem in finding a way to connect it with the rest of the mournful catalogue. Nevertheless, Lars Johansson, who is seriously underrated as a guitarist, must be mentioned for his Malmsteen-like exceptional soloing work on this song. Aside from this instrumental and the skippable word-spoken interludes, Tales
is full of classics. Dark Reflections
, Through The infinitive Halls Of Death
and the title track are the epitome of Epic Doom. The magnificent track The Edge Of Heaven
, is quite simply the best moment of this album and a highpoint in the bands career. It encompasses literally everything that Doom Metal has to offer: Memorable, anthemic choruses, an incredible solo section, and of course epic riffage. For an odd reason, Edling never really liked this song and Candlemass performed it live on very rare occasions. The album also features Under The Oak
, a number that debuted on Epicus
. While the execution is again flawless the track seems to be less effective, but it doesn’t affect the album’s continuity.
Is there anything else that needs to be said ? I think not. Whether you are a fan of Doom Metal or not, the first four Candlemass records are essential listens for every person who likes Heavy Metal in general. This band had a unique charisma during their years of prime: They had the ability to create atmospheric, cathartic music that conveyed the emotional struggles described on the lyrics. Very few bands have manage to link the music with the lyrics in such a profound way with so powerful results. Following the release of the album, an exhausting tour followed to support it. Unfortunately, during the tour, conflicts arose within the band. Tensions grew stronger and after recording their first live album, a year later, Messiah left the band, bringing the end to the golden age of Candlemass. The next album was their last before the group’s first disbandment.
The Edge Of Heaven
Through The Infinitive Halls Of Death
A Tale Of Creation