» Leif Edling - Candlemass
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Interview conducted June 27 2007
Interview published July 01 2007

Dark are the tales of death and creation. The ancient screams, and stark reflections of the past have shrouded us all in eternal solitude as we prepare for the downfall reign of the King Of The Grey Islands - the new release from Swedish Doomlords: Candlemass. Nuclear Blast recently requested me to speak with founding member, and main song writer - the Nemesis himself: Leif Edling - about this new album and their choice of new singer - Robert Lowe from America's Solitude Aeturnus. Leif had been doing telephone interviews all day, but I don't think he was prepared for my algebraic approach; which would prove to be a real spellbreaker. Enjoy this abstract diatribe as the will of souls become quite bewitched between Leif's and my own personal opiniated taste. With clearsight, this emperor of the void discusses all his years as the man of shadows behind the dark-veiled death mirror; the krux of his very existence and resistance, as the bearer of pain and mythos from the farthest sign, at the hallowed end.

MettleAngel: Hey there Leif, how is everything going? I'm so excited about the new album - King Of The Grey Islands.

  • Leif: Thanks, I've been doing like 200 interviews this week, so my voice is rather fucked, but other than that...

MettleAngel: Now, I'm sure you've been asked, ad nauseum, about Eddie "Messiah" Marcolin's departure and all that bull$hit drama. Therefore, I want to focus on the new album and your working with Robert Lowe.

  • Leif: That's great man, let's do that...

MettleAngel: So after "Messiah" exited the band, again, how did you decide upon Rob for your frontman? Were you always a fan of Solitude Aeturnus?

  • Leif: We tried out like 30 Swedish singers, 50 or so dudes from Europe, USA, and South America. We really made it a wide area search you know...

MettleAngel: Then, you heard Rob was interested in the position?

  • Leif: Yeah, but he was in Solitude Aeturnus, and I did not want to piss on that lawn, so to speak. Actually, his girlfiend Heather contacted me about Rob's interest. So I talked to him, to see if he was serious. This gave me a clearance to approach the subject. John Perez and I also had a discussion and we decided it was the right move.

MettleAngel: So, then Rob did not quit Solitude Aetunus to join Candlemass?

  • Leif: No, he is still their singer, but, they are really inactive. Rob wanted a chance to sing and tour, to express his vocal talents.

MettleAngel: Then Rob, like Martin Steene of Iron Fire and Force Of Evil, will balance both bands. I guess it's true that Solitude Aeturnus do take their time writing albums. Theie last release - Alone - was their first in like seven, perhaps almost eight years.

  • Leif: Exactly, they are not too active. Candlemass is very active; we try to play as much as we can, when we can. This is really what Rob wants to do. That album last year came out in November, and they only played like two gigs. All those great reviews for Solitued Aeturnus, but no real tour plans. Whereas, with Candlemasss, now Rob has a real chance to exercise his gift and true vocal aptitude. He jumped at the opportunity to be more expansive; because he loves to sing - he is a musician - he chooses to do this. He is really such a great singer and Candlemass provides an excellent vocal outlet, for him to perform.

MettleAngel: I see what you mean. Solitude Aeturnus just also released a brand new DVD, but not a new album. I've always been a fan of this band; matter of fact, in my opinion, I feel that your new CD really has a Solitude Aeturnus feel, as I listen to it.

  • Leif: You think so? I really have to disagree with you on this point. Candlemass does not sound anything at all like Solitude Aeturnus. Rob does not emphasize that oriental approach; he sings the way we want him to sing.

MettleAngel: So then Rob was not a part of the writing process for King Of The Grey Islands?

  • Leif: No, not at all! We had the album written and recorded last May. We finished all the lyrics and vocals around April. My friend Mats Leven agreed to do the rough mix so we had something to send to Nuclear Blast. Robert listened to this demo and then added his vocals to it.

MettleAngel: So then, Rob's contribution was minimal...

  • Leif: He adopted his style to the music, as we requested. He deliberately tried to not imitate the Solitude Aeturnus trademark approach.

MettleAngel: I see what you mean. You have always been the link which has kept Candlemass going for over two decades; but there is a sizable difference, and subtle nuance when you listen to the non-Messiah years. Chapter VI is slighty progressive like Memento More; while Dactylis Glomerata and From The 13th Sun are mired in 70's era doom.

  • Leif: I'm not sure I agree with you there either. Chapter VI is our commercial attempt; but it does not sound like Memento Mori. They were clearly progressive.

MettleAngel: What about Abstrakt Algebra, your side project in the early 90's with Mats Leven, now that's what I called progressive! When I first heard that CD, I did not know what to make of it. This was before Dream Theater, Everygrey, or Symphony X gained any noteriety. Mat's Leven's vocals are incredible.

  • Leif: Yes, Abstrakt Algebra was my attempt to become experimental or progressive, if you can call it that. 13th Sun is definitely motivated by the 1970-71 era doom bands like Blue Cheer. I love Dactylis Glomerata.

MettleAngel: Most American critics dismissed your releases without Messiah. Those albums were also really hard to locate in the states.

  • Leif: That's strange because here in Europe, eveyone loved those releases. Americans can be so hard to please, sometimes. I'm not really in touch with the American voice, so I have no clue.

How do you feel about all these doom bands gaining recognition? There are so many Sabbath clones like The Sword and Wolf Mother.

  • Leif: I'm not into all these new bands and all that hype...

MettleAngel: They seem to have flooded the market here in America with their doom, stoner, and sludge effigies. There are just so many horrible acts these days...

  • Leif: Like who?

MettleAngel: Like Fu Manchu, and a whole host of others. I got this promo with all these doom bands - some have clever names, like SuperHeavyGoatAss; but they all bore me to death. When I think of doom, I think of Trouble, Solitude Aeturnus, Count Raven, St. Vitus, Pentagram, etc.

  • Leif: A band like Fu Manchu is different. They are like stoner skateboard rock. Although, I'm still waiting for the next Pentagram...

MettleAngel: There was also Dream Death from the 80's who became Penance. They mixed doom with thrash and Celtic Frost elements. Even Christian bands like Veni Domine & Paramecium began to imitate your art. Now, there's a new band called Middian signed to Metal Blade who seem to be imitating this style, as well.

  • Leif: Descriptions make it easier to find a band when you want to buy it. I guess this is what gives it a label. There is such a fuckin' jungle of bands out there. I'm glad that Stoner fling this is over, I'm not going to listen to that shit. What do you think of a band like My Dying Bride?

MettleAngel: I don't consider them doom at all.

  • Leif: Really, what would you call them, then?

MettleAngel: Artists like My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, even Moonspell or Salem invented a whole new style. They were influenced by Celtic Frost's Into ThePandemoniom and they put their own twist on it. They use classical elements like keyboards, violins and cellos; as well as female vocals. I guess I'd call it Gothic Death/Doom.

  • Leif: Here in Europe, we call My Dying Bride - Doom.

MettleAngel: They fit more in with the Opeth, Katatonia vibe. In America we have Novembers Doom who have succeed with this approach. Although, local Cincinnati favourites -Thorns Of The Carrion came close too.

  • Leif: I've heard of Novembers Doom, but I'm not too familiar with them...

MettleAngel: When I think of bands like Candlemass, I think of clean and soaring vocals, not harsh or brutal like those bands. I like to be able to decipher the lyrics. I am not a fan of Opeth or Katatonia at all. I have always loved "Messiah" Marcolin's vocal operatic tone. This is how I first became a fan of Candlemass. I enjoy all his work with Mercy, Memento Mori, etc. I guess he can bit a bitter pill to swallow, though, personallly.

  • Leif: So what do you think of our new album, without him singing?

MettleAngel: Well, I love Rob's vocals. Solitude Aeturnus have always been my favourite band of this genre. I love Trouble but they have such a 70's rock feel like Cream, The Guess Who, BTO, CC&R, mixed with Sabbath. I never really considered them as Doom. I think King Of The Grey Islands is better than the much hyped Self Titled come back album from a few years ago, though. I just need to really listen to it more, and divorce myself from my Solitude Aeturnus associations and predelictions; that I may finally view it as being pure Candlemass.

  • Leif: I'm glad you like it, and I understand why you think it sounds like Solitude Aeturnus.

MettleAngel: I don't have lyrics, is this a concept album - what is the overall theme?

  • Leif: The story is very vague and a loose concept. It deals with negative emotions; depression, sadness, stuff like that. Each song is a journey into fear and isolation.

MettleAngel: So the songs deal with lonliness, paranoia, and melancholia?

  • Leif: Yes, the Grey Islands are a place of pure hurt and detachment. The King (listener) goes within when he is feeling pissed off. The lyrics are really not important - it's the music and emotion which matters.

MettleAngel: I'm surprised to hear you say this. Did "Messiah" write the lyrics to all those great songs on Nightfall, Ancient Dreams, Tales Of Creation, or the Self-titled?

  • Leif: "Messiah" never wrote any lyrics, that was all me, I was so damn pretentious in the 80's. I acted like lyrics actually meant something. I can't do that anymore. People don't really give a fuck anyway - the music is so much more important. No one cares about someone's political agenda or message. With us, there is no deeper meaning to the lyrics written.

MettleAngel: I thought, it was you who wrote such great lyrics in the 80's. I love the lyrics to songs like Samarithan, Dark Are The Veils Of Death, Bewitched, Dark Reflections, Mirror, Mirror, or At The Gallow's End. Tales Of Creation was a concept album, though... correct?

  • Leif: Yes, that was our first and last concept. Too many people try too hard to be really ambitious and write the perfect song with a deep and profound vision. Why bother, it's all bullshit anyway! 19-20 attempts are total crap. I really tried this back then, I tried to get away with it. Who cares about the "darkness within" or "enemy within" crap? Why sweat it out?

MettleAngel: I'm surprised to hear you say this. You really have become quite disillusioned over the years. I guess this is evident with the overarching theme on King Of The Grey Islands. This explains the song titles and abstract words for Dactylis Glomerata and The 13th Sun. I first discovered Candlemass when I bought the tape of Nightfall at a local record store. The Metal Blade copy was so cool. I loved the lyrics and music, and packaging. I had not even heard the Latin debut: Epicus Doomius Metallicus - which is truly a pretentious title. Ancient Dreams and Nightfall are not pretentious - they are masterpieces - often imitated, never surpassed! It's pure poetry.

  • Leif: Thank you Michael, for really being a true fan. Still, I've known several fuckin' pretentious poets, too. Entertainment means eveyone has to take everything too seriously. I laugh at this - why bother?

MettleAngel: Do people ever ask you about you work with Nemesis? I have this CD, but I'm sure it's very rare and hard to find.

  • Leif: Did you not know it has been re-released? GMR Music - the same company who did the Candlemass re-issues did this and Abstrakt Algebra. They really did a great job with it. It has cool packaging, photos, layout, and bonuses. The Dactylis re-issue is really good too and it includes more Abstrakt Algebra as a bonus disc. The Greeks and Itallians appreciate this. The Germans Love the 13th Sun stuff. The Chapter VI also has a bonus disc, and is completely remastered. I think the Nemesis music, itself, is pure crap - but the re-issue is really done well, so you should look into that.

MettleAngel: Wow, I did not know about this at all! I was able to get the 80's Candlemass re-issues which were done by Powerline as double discs, with extras and demos; but I did not know the rest of the catalogue had been re-issued as well. Here I thought having an original Nemesis EP on Metal Blade and Abstrakt Algebra on Megarock Records meant that I had some real collector items.

  • Leif: Well, if you have the originals, then they are probably worth something, but the sound quality is horrendous. What about my band Krux with Mats Leven - is that available in America?

MettleAngel: I did not even know you were in a band called Krux. I've never heard them at all. I know of the band Creozoth on Escapi featuring other Candlemass members - guitarist: Lars "Lasse" Johansson, and drummer - Jan Lindh; who also play in Zoic with guitarist: Mats "Mappe" Björkman, with that singer: Fredrik Ohlsson, from the Christain clones: Veni Domine on Powerline Records, but I've never heard Krux, sorry!

  • Leif: Well if you really like Candlemass and Mat's vocals, you should really try that out too. You should be able to access information from the internet, I'd think.

MettleAngel: Yes, I'll look into that for sure. I love Mat's singing with Therion so much. I was disheartened to see him leave them. Now they have the vocalist: Thomas Vikström who sang on your Chapter VI release.

  • Leif: Talk about pretentious - Therion! Singing in forgotten languages, crazy concepts, now that's what I mean..c'mon! Yes, even still, it's all inbreeding with bands in Europe.

MettleAngel: Oh, wait just a minute, Therion is awesome! Christofer Johnsson, Johan and Kristian Niemann, and their entourage not only play incredible music; but they live the lifestyle. I love their lyrics, and all the album concepts. I have learned so much listening to that band over the years. I even appreciate Christofer's work in several side projects.

  • Leif: Really, I thought he only sang with Therion...

Well, now he won't sing with Therion, either; but yes he has done the Demonoid with other Therion members and he sung on the final Messiah album - Underground. He was really active in the Swedish death scene in the late 80's and early 90's. I guess we just don't see eye to eye on this - I love lyrics and bands who go above and beyond the practical - I love their mettle! Switching gears, you played in America about four years ago on the BWBK Six Pack.

  • Leif: Yes, that was in 2003, if I recall; it really seems like a long time ago. We shared the stage with Trouble, both bands played on the same night.

Any plans to return to America any time soon?

  • Leif: We definitely hope so. It depends if the album sells well in the states. If so, some agency will encourage us to come over, I'd imagine. I'd love to do a package deal with Mastodon and Machine Head. I got the new Machine Head CD, now thats what I call fuckin' metal - such great riffs! Machine Head and Mastodon have captured that new sound and energy which makes for real heavy metal. I really dig that mixing hardcore background with aggressive drumming. I really love that so much more than those Wolf Mother wannabees!

MettleAngel: Wow, now we disagree, yet again. I can't stand Mastodon. Listening to them sounds like I'm doing my laundry; the drums sound like a laundromat with bad engineering. I like the new Machine Head because of it's Vio-lence style guitar work. Although, I'm sure both bands would be honoured to tour with you and hear of your praise. Will you play any non "Messiah" era Candlemass on tour, besides tracks from Epicus Doomicus Metallicus?

  • Leif: No, we play the songs the fans want to hear and maybe like three, or four new ones.

MettleAngel: I'll assume you won't play any Solitude Aeturnus cuts, either?

  • Leif: Oh no, we won't mix bands; we like to keep those as two separate entities, altogether.

MettleAngel: On the last Self-titled release, you had a special digipack version with a bonus track called: Mars And Volcanos. I went out of my way to get that version, even though I shelled out a few extra bucks.

  • Leif: You paid more for it? Typical music business milking the consumer. Yeah, the Nuclear Blast jewel case sucked, it was so shoddy. We preferred the digipack. This time again we are doing a digipack with two bonus tracks. Robert is singing on new versions of Solitude and At The Gallow's End. He did such a great version of these - even better than the originals done by "Messiah". There will also be an extremely limited offering for 500 die-hards. These will be handnumbered copies in a limited Tin-Box with a Bonus-5"CD including the following tracks: Black Dwarf (also with Rob Lowe) & Demonia 6 (an early demo version).

MettleAngel: Awesome, now I know I'll have to get that digipack, for sure. I never seem to get those limited Nuclear Blast deals! It's like they sell-out before I even hear about their existence. This is what happened with the last Therion...not that you would care; no seriously, ... At The Gallow's End is one of my favourite Candlemass songs, and I dug black Dwarf, from your last effort, so I can't wait to hear Rob sing on those. Leif, thank you so much for taking the time to work with me on this - I know you are exhausted, and we are over our limit.

  • Leif: Yes, I got ot go - we have run over out time (30 minutes became 45). Michael, thank you so much for being a fan all these years.

MettleAngel: Leif, I'm sorry we disagreed on so many points - I apologize - but I have to be honest and speak my mind. We just have to agree to disagree!

  • Leif: No problem, of the 200 or so interviews I've done, yours has definitely been the most interesting. Check out my Krux band and let me know...

MettleAngel: I will, and thank you again!

  • Leif: You're welcome - gotta go - take care man!

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