Review: Candlemass “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” [Black Dragon Records]

Review: Candlemass “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” [Black Dragon Records]

- in Reviews
Rating 83%
Summary
Ancient primeval apotheosis
83 %
User Rating : 3.8 (1 votes)
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Few albums are actually as essential to a genre as they implicitly claim. Most seminal records help push the boundaries of their time and reveal uncharted territory for the next generation to take heed and further develop the style until an entirely new genre is created. On Candlemass’ 1986 debut album here, the band not only permanently establish a definitional trademark doom metal sound (others responsible for it as well), as they also release one of the most accomplished works in the genre’s history. Not that they single-handedly invented the genre, but let’s just leave it at this: the album deserves its title ‘Epicus…’, and rather than being a smug appellation it rather feels tongue-in-cheek in spirit as well as aptly descriptive. Instead of coming across as a merely brave effort full of youthful exuberance and rookie mistakes this debut album sounds like the ripe work of seasoned veterans that have perfected the song-writing down to the smaller details.

The songs are all eminently climactic. They’re given judiciously crafted intros, the verses aren’t just tossed in but rather seamlessly embedded into the tracks with clever and detailed sections around them making for a perfectly fluid listening experience, and the choruses are enchanting moments of unforgettable pure doom metal grief. The songs know when to mix it up in tone and color, thus avoiding the droning staleness usually associated with the style, as the bulk of the tracks will be heavy with the imposing dirges before soon switching to either an eerie low/high lead harmony interlude often punctuated by the soaring solos, an acoustic guitar part more rustic in feel, or a short bass solo break linking up the two halves of a song.

The riffs have a luster about them and genuinely make the album feel essential and classic, almost gleaming with the aura of an old recording from previous decades that was discovered some time in the 80’s. If not for the verse/chorus structure, conferring a modern format and feel to the songs, this could practically come across at least in atmosphere as session music for mysterious secret society rituals, as it’s got that quaint quasi-religious reverence about it. A major component of that epic ambiance in the riffs comes from the octave doubling whether on guitars or synth choir hums, and with the added reverb at the back of the mix the guitars sound distinctly alive, like they’re breathing entities pouring out their chagrin. Then-vocalist Johan Längquist has quite a bit to do with the solemn and sober tone of the record. His style surely is not as impressive as the next lead vocalist Messiah Marcolin and his operatic demonstrations, but it rather serves the album as it fits the straightforward and reserved feel of the record.

Much of the charm comes from the plainness in composition that each track conveys, and rather than expand the songs in length and extra parts Candlemass opt to thicken or modify the sections either harmonically or with drum variations among other arrangements. They do a remarkable job at keeping the entire album at virtually the same tempo, and yet never have it sound stale or flat. A temptation among many doom acts is throwing in a slightly faster section just to add a dynamic to the pacing before returning to the ponderous stuff, but Candlemass are doom metal purists here and they have their own methods of writing classic cult doom for the ages.

Release date: June 10th, 1986

http://www.candlemass.se/

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