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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Candlemass: Death Magic Doom


1) If I Ever Die; 2) Hammer Of Doom; 3) The Bleeding Baroness; 4) Demon Of The Deep; 5) House Of 1000 Voices; 6) Dead Angel; 7) Clouds Of Dementia; 8) My Funeral Dreams.

Death! Magic! Doom! Is there anybody out there who could resist? I mean, you have death and magic and doom, three in one — not just death, you know, which is too brutal, and not just magic, which is too infantile, and not just doom, which is kinda corny, but all three going on at the same time. And no punctuation signs, either, meaning that you can have a lot of fun with your syntactic analysis. Is it "The Doom of Death Magic"? Or "The Magic Doom of Death"? This album is nothing but a living enigma.

The song titles are awesome in their own rights. ʽIf I Ever Dieʼ, for instance, presupposes that for the protagonist, death is only one of several remote possibilities, implying the supernatural trans-essence of his being. On the other hand, ʽDead Angelʼ signifies that supernatural trans-essent beings may indeed go through the procedure of dying, analogous to mortal beings. In fact, the supernatural trans-essent protagonist does seem to be entertaining morbid thoughts of death far more often than a layman could suppose — ʽMy Funeral Dreamsʼ shows that he is not above making plans and arrangements for the potential scenario of his demise. And what about ʽThe Bleeding Baronessʼ? In describing mysterious female entities of the necrotic persuasion, our protagonist shows himself a true master of poetic alliteration — and if you were not stunned enough, this is immediately followed by ʽDemon Of The Deepʼ, just so you know that this is no boring act of coincidence. Death! Magic! Doom!

Now if only the songs themselves happened to be at least as entertaining and fun as the ones on King Of The Grey Islands, we could all go back happy and relaxed. Unfortunately, they are not. Most of this material is really slow, really tedious, really predictable, and while I still insist that Robert Lowe is the single best vocalist that Candlemass ever had, not even Lowe is able to pull the album out of the mire. ʽIf I Ever Dieʼ does start the record on a promising note, with a set of fast-paced riffs and crazy solos, but when ʽHammer Of Doomʼ comes along and it is ʽBlack Sabbathʼ time all over again (come on, just how many times can one exploit the same Devil's Chord in the exact same way?), they simply crash into a wall, and spend the rest of the album wandering aimlessly among the rubble.

As usual, it all boils down to the question of whether the record has its share of impressive riffs or not. Opinions may differ, but I vote a firm «no» on this particular occasion. They seem to have slipped back into their «classic Candlemass» skin instead of directly aping Sabbath, and so it all sounds like a better produced, but even less inspired Nightfall. Sludgy, unmemorable riffs; pon­derous verses; non-catchy choruses; and, above all, the incomprehensibility of whether we should take this shit seriously (for which it is way too cartoonish) or continue to treat it, as we always did, with a good helping of popcorn — for which it is, frankly speaking, just way too lethargic. If early Candlemass was third-rate Sabbath, then Death Magic Doom is essentially second-rate early Candlemass. And on the whole, King Of The Grey Islands had more tricks up its sleeve than this album, where almost every song sounds the same. Even ʽThe Bleeding Baronessʼ, instead of trying to sound at least a little bit spooky and lascivious, just ends up like everything else — a slow warning of impending doom, whose efficiency, now that it finds itself in the context of seven other same-sounding warnings, is now comparable to the efficiency of spam messages in your mailbox. Thumbs down.

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