Death, magic, doom. Taste those words and then tell me they don't fit very well to describe the new album from Candlemass. Luckily those words also make out the title of the album, and seldom do you see a title that is so striking. If I Ever Die serves as a fast-paced opener with a swirling riff and comes complete with a driving force to it, and the mighty start of the album is surely promising to say the least. Death, Magic Doom is the second album with this setting of Candlemass and it feels like it picks up where the Lucifer Rising EP left us.
Leif Edling is a pure genius when it comes to songwriting, he has proved it many times before, not only with Candlemass but also with the bands Abstrakt Algebra and Krux, and does it here as well, again. Alongside with Tony Iommi he is to be reckoned as a true master of riffs, and also a songwriter of rank. Speaking of Iommi, Hammer Of Doom (I like how they carefully chooses their titles) has a Sabbath sounding monster riff and this heavy and slow song perfectly sounds so naturally Candlemass. I like how the vocals are used here to make a lush layer to the otherwise gloomy song, and in a sense, the sound is somewhat similar to the Chapter IV album, especially when the song picks up the pace towards the later parts.
Sound-wise very far from Hammer Of Doom comes the track Dead Angel which is totally awesome and in my opinion something of the best the band has ever written. It tells of a songwriting skill that is above and beyond most others. It has ultimate power and enthralling swirling riffs complete with a fast pace, seen from a Candlemass point of view, and a melodic break as the crème de la crème.
The largest difference since King Of The Grey Islands is that the songs seem to have been written in order to fit Rob's voice better, and this is something that has made Candlemass rise even higher. Even if they are still very familiar in their sound, a progression in the music because of the vocal department is noted. The vocal melodies are often of a calibre that is close to killing. My Funeral Dreams, with its typically slow Candlemass pace, is a song that if it hadn't been for the vocal emotions it would have been nothing.
The same goes for Demon Of The Deep, since the song itself isn't anything remarkable until the end when it turns and gets a melodic twist with the vocals and an organ fills the background. Then it flows completely wonderful towards its end, and that idea should have been used within the entire song in order to really make it all the way home. Better then with House Of A Thousand Voices, which is the type of song that sneaks up on you and with lurking guitars and melodies, it collaborates greatly with classic gravedigger riffing and this song blooms after some listening and is well worth the wait.
With a touch of the "old-school Candlemass", The Bleeding Baroness comes forth with a magnificent riff throughout the song that brings my mind towards the song Mirror Mirror from the Ancient Dreams album with more than twenty years on its neck. The Bleeding Baroness has a refrain that is melodic and very mighty, and since the song is long and varied and contains all the elements of what you could desire and expect from this band, I would say that this is a complete Candlemass song.
The last song I would like to mention is Clouds Of Dementia, which is another one that grows on you. However, the things I would like to emphasise here are the presence in the vocals that alone can make any song rise above and beyond. Furthermore, this one also comes with a sound of the old, but more so with a touch of the progressive side. Edling has brought some of Abstrakt Algebra and Krux with him to Clouds Of Dementia, although not quite as pretentious (pretentious here is used in positive sense by the way), yet it can be seen as continuously ongoing with a steady rhythm from the pounding drums by Jan Lindh.
In one way Candlemass is like Iron Maiden, even if a song is of higher or lesser quality, you can always rely on the fact that there is at least one part of the song where the guitars kick ass. In addition, guitarists Lars Johansson and Mats "Mappe" Björkman surely deserve to be mentioned as well, for tastefully blending wonderful melodies with gravedigging riffs. Finally, Candlemass have with their three latest releases (Candlemass, King Of The Grey Islands and Death, Magic, Doom) continuously been ascending to entirely new levels, and I can't help but wonder where they will go from here?